Alongside de Sica’s “The Bicycle Thieves”, this film is the definitive work of Italian neo-realist cinema. “Rome Open City” follows the activities of the Resistance in the last days of the German Occupation. Many of the cast were active in the Resistance and the filming was done on street locations in Rome immediatly after the Liberation. Rossellini spoke of wishing to “capture the fleeting reflection of appearances … All the action is seen from the outside, objectively”. In this feature he laid the ground rules for neo-realism: non-professional actors, hand held film-work, non-studio sets. The result is a film of uncompromising commitment to detailing the struggles of ordinary people to make sense of their everyday lives amid the brutality of war. In hindsight, some of the narrative might appear sentimental. The attempt by neo-realists to create an “objective cinema” was never to be fully achieved: the authorial voices of director and script-writer were to remain crucial in defining reality. But Rosselini’s film still manages, decades on, to convey the textures, sounds and sights of war and human endurance: some of the images remain unforgettable. Co-scripted by a young Federico Fellini. In Italian with English subtitles.
How to watch
In ACMI's collection
Black and White
16mm film; Access Print (Section 1)