Rome: Open City. 1945. Dir Roberto Rossellini
Rome: Open City. 1945. Dir Roberto Rossellini
Roma città aperta (Open City) is widely regarded as the most important film in Italian cinema history...At the time it was first shown, the film must have seemed utterly different from anything that had gone before. when it is looked at more closely, however, what is most striking is its overwhelming similarity to previous cinema. (Brunette, Peter; 1996 p 41)
As a visual depiction of the divided city, the film has at once the value of a testimony and the status of a rhetorical construction. It is a testimony because, for all its artifice - actors, scripted performances, built sets - it records on celluloid how parts of Rome looked at the end of the Second World War. Including sites of memorable events. (Forgacs in Gottlieb 2004 p 107)
The one opposition on which Rome Open City does not insist, however is that between realism and melodrama....Instead of trying to rescue the authentic visual feel of the film from its story, realism from melodrama , it is better to see how the latter enabled the former....Rome Open City's counter-Hollywood offered up the lived experience of the wartime Resistance and the Popular Front . (Rogin, M.P. in Gottlieb 2004 pp132-133)
Open City is a labyrinth of clichés. Foremost amongst these clichés is the presentation of a narrative "plot" that dramatises the struggle against the conspiratorial powers of Nazism and Fascism... In its investigation of the criminal acts of the Nazis and the Facsists, draws on melodramatic clichés in relation to its construction of character and plot, uses of misé en scene, and dialogue. These clichés involve representations of femininity and masculinity in the context of perverse sexuality, deception and misrepresentation in probing questions of belief, responsibility and judgement. (Landy, Marcia in Gottlieb 2004 p 86)
I sought only to picture the essence of things. I had absolutely no interest in telling a romanticized tale along the usual lives of film drama. The actual facts were each more dramatic than any screen cliche.”—Roberto Rossellini, 1960 - cited e-Jump-Cut
It is a fascinating paradox that Roma città aperta continued many of the stylistic characteristics of cinema produced during the Fascist era, but it embodied, at the same time , a clear antifascist ideology that attempted to reconcile all of the different and conflicting political positions of the various groups making up the Italian antifascist resistance. (Bondanella in Gottlieb 2004, p 43)
Currently this is a straight forward webliography and bibliography for the film. The Google entries have been researched down to page 26 looking for decent quality articles that aren't simply repetitive. A fuller analysis of the film will appear in due course however this page should still be of use to interested visitors.
Another YouTube Extract. Here the fascists are about to conduct a raid. (Italian Only)
Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. PDF Intro to Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP
The Films of Roberto Rossellini by Peter Bondanella. Author(s) of Review: Barbara Odabashian (JSTOR article)
Brunette, Peter. 1996 2nd Ed. Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley: California University Press(Originally Oxford: Oxford University Press)
Bondanella, Peter. 2002 3rd Ed. Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present. New York / London: Continuum. This is the first book to get on Italian cinema for anybody unfamiliar with the overview. Whilst one may have disagreements with certain aspects of it it is one of the best introductions to the whole period.
Bondanella, Peter. 1993. The Films of Roberto Rossellini. Cambridge: CUP. This has a complete chapter on Roma Citta Aperta
Forgacs, David.2000. Roma Citta Aperta. London: British Film Institute Paperback ISBN: 0851708048
Forgacs, David. 2004. Space Rhetoric and the Divided City in Roma città aperta. Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. 2004. Cambridge . A fascinating essay building on some ideas which had to remain underdveloped in his BFI 2000 monograph. Here Forgacs explores several aspects of the way Rome as a city is represented through visual rhetoric (film language). The essay looks at the way the city is framed, at vertical divisions and horizontal movements and the use of mise en scene as a rhetorical device.
Forgacs, David Lutton,Sarah and Nowell-Smith Geoffrey. 2001. Roberto Rossellini: Magician of the Real.London: BFI
Gallagher, Tag. 1998. The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini: His Life and Films. New York: Da Capo Press. A large biographical account of Rossellini and his work. Much of the account is based upon interviews and is therefore imbricated with memories which are clearly of greater or lesser reliability and at times seems to slip into anecdotalism. The book has a chapter on the making of Rome Open City.
Gottlieb, Sidney. Ed. Rossellini's Rome Open City. Cambridge: CUP. This is an affordable and very useful book of essays by several of the most prominent scholars of Italian cinema and comes highly recommended.
Hipkins Danielle. 'Francesca's Salvation or Damnation? Resisting recognition of the prostitute in Rossellini's Paisà (1946)', Studies in European Cinema, 3.2 (2006), 153-69. Hipkins has been studying the role of the prostitute in Italian films and in Roma citta aperta the role of Marina as temted, temptress and traitor and how she affords to keep herself is of importance. Rossellini's use of homosexuality as a perversion linked to Nazism is also an interesting area to discuss.
Marcus, Millicent. 1986. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. As well as being a useful introduction to the ideas underlying neorealism there is a complete chapter on Rome Open City. The book itself is a powerful thesis showing the influence that neorealism has and continues to have within Italian cinema. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Italian cinema and is probably the best one to get after the Bondanella mention above. Here there is greater depth working through a range of case studies.
Rossellini, Roberto. The War Trilogy. Open City. Paisan. Germany-Year Zero. Edited and with an Introduction By Stefano Roncoroni. Translated from the Italian By Judith Green. NY: Grossman, 1973.