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It is hard to understand why it is so difficult to view the films of one of the most important directors of Italian cinema and the world. Federico Fellini, Luchino Visconti and Vittorio De Sica's works are all, fortunately, mostly available. Rossellini "the father of us all" as Martin Scorsese once said, is sadly a legend whose works are vastly unavailable. Legal or copyright reasons should not hamper a persons work, especially one of vast importance to the cinema. Isabella Rossellini said "My dad's films are fading away My father is slowly being forgotten." However when one experiences a Rossellini picture it is hard to imagine that statement. A viewing of Germany Year Zero will make one remember Rossellini for life, along with a list of other Rossellini masterpieces; Open City, Paisan, Stromboli, Voyage in Italy and many more. I have been fortunate enough to view a great deal of uncut and unavailable Rossellini works at the Cinematheque Ontario in Toronto. Being part of a 20 something generation I can gladly say that Rossellini's films are to another generation just as powerful as they were when they first came out. With Viva L'Italia! Rossellini has created a film that ranks with such classics as Visconti's The Leopard, or even perhaps a war film such as Patton, which may have been influenced by this film. The story is about the Italian hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, who perhaps is not well known throughout North America, but we get an education while watching this film. Although some Italian critics may not have been optimistic about Rossellini's portrayal of Garibaldi, it still evokes interest in the viewer to find out who Giuseppe Garibaldi was and what he did. One of the great beauties of this work is the long sweeping camera shots of the clashing armies. On the big screen it is imperative. This picture is akin to Lawrence of Arabia where it really makes you appreciate cinema on the big screen. There are camera shots setup from high in the mountains looking down on the battle plains below of Garibaldi's advancing armies into a town. You can barely see the men, they are like ants; it is magnificent to look at. With his Neorealistic skills, Rossellini excellently captures the action on the streets of Garibaldi's army fighting the Bourbons. The movie ends on an unusual note, but it evokes such an interest on Garibaldi to the viewer. We are fortunate to have the cinema as an art and a tool of examining and telling stories of our history. It is upsetting to realize that a great work such as this one is extremely difficult for viewing. Martin Scorsese has expressed his concern for Italian Cinema and made the great documentary; My Voyage to Italy. He says, "History remains something that's handed down, something that happens between people. In fact I learnt that by watching these movies, so the best way I have to keep film history alive is to try and share my own enthusiasm, my own experience...Usually people get excited about a movie by hearing about it from somebody else, so I'm simply trying to tell you I saw these movies I didn't read about them or learn about them in school, and they had a powerful effect on me and you should see them."
And along with all of Rossellini's films, you should see this one.
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