The great movie scenes: Rome, Open City - fascism, tragedy and the birth of Italian neo-realism

Still from Rome, Open City (1945)

The great movie scenes: Rome, Open City - fascism, tragedy and the birth of Italian neo-realism

What makes a film a classic? In this video series, film scholar Bruce Isaacs looks at a classic film and analyses its brilliance. (Warning: this scene contains violence and may be upsetting for some viewers.)


Rome, Open City (1945)

In what way does a film reflect the politics of the time and place in which it was made? We started answering this question in the episode on Back to the Future (1985). Today, we explore this question further with Rome, Open City (Roma città aperta), directed by Roberto Rossellini and released to Italian audiences in 1945.

Rossellini made the film just after the German withdrawal, a couple of years after Mussolini’s death and the end of Fascism in Italy. The historical context is important because it provides an insight into what Rossellini was trying to achieve. If you are an Italian filmmaker, committed to the art form, but also to the country and its history, how do you respond to this turbulent moment in history? Rossellini used the medium of cinema to not only reconstruct Italy’s recent past under Fascism, but also its potential future.


See also:

Vertigo
The Passenger
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jaws
Psycho
The Godfather
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
Marie Antoinette
Requiem for a Dream
The Matrix and bullet-time
Back to the Future