Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.
Vittorio De Sica
Enmeshed with the Italian Campaign during the liberation of Italy between 1943-1944, six distinct but unconnected episodes unfold. Starting off from Sicily, a local girl, Carmela, guides a band of American soldiers through a minefield with devastating results, while in Naples, Pasquale, the orphaned child of war, after stealing the boots of an inebriated African-American G.I., is followed back to his war-battered town. Then, in liberated Rome, the impoverished young prostitute, Francesca, waits for the American soldier who fell in love with six months before, and in Florence, during a battle across Ponte Vecchio, Harriet, a US wartime nurse, risks her life to reunite with her lover. Next, three army chaplains spend the night at a Roman Catholic monastery, however, only one of them is a Catholic. Finally, on the banks of Po River, American OSS officers and Italian Partisans fight the Nazis, after saving two downed English pilots.Written by
The monks in the fifth episode were authentic Franciscan monks from the Maiori convent, near Salerno See more »
During night a GI lights up his lighter while following the rocky path through the lava canal. A flashlight might have been used in order to help increase the effect of the lighter being lit. When the soldier closes the lighter, the spot projected by the flashlight remains on for a fraction of a second, which is enough to observe the synchronization issue. See more »
Originally premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 8, 1946 in a longer cut (running 134 minutes). Later cut to 125 minutes. The 134 min. cut has been restored from material found at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in Berlin, Germany and has premiered at the 55th Venice Film Festival in 1998. See more »
At times devastating, at times with a little faith- Paisa is Rossellini's neo-realist epic
Now that I have seen all three films in Roberto Rossellini's 'post-war' trilogy (the others being the groundbreaking Open City and Germany Year-Zero), I think Paisa is the one that got to me the most. I knew when I saw clips of the film in Scorsese's My Voyage to Italy that it would have some level of promise, but I didn't know it could be this compelling. Divided up into six vignettes, Rossellini paints something of a historical document as much as a film- each one carries its own strengths (there may be a weakness here and there for some, though this may lend itself to the fact that the film has not been restored and is in dire need of new subtitles), and the documentary-type approach elevates characters and situations to the level of great tragedy. These may be fictionalized accounts, they may not be, but in telling these stories, getting them through to the audience at the time, they remain potent little notes in film history.
From vignette to vignette, the allied forces move their way upward from Sicily to northern Italy. Among them, I got struck by how frank the issues were being dealt with, and how levels of humanity and kindness crept their way in. For example, the story with the drunken black man who spends some time with a kid dealing in the black-market, this is an emotionally complex scene- a viewer won't know how it'll turn out in the first few minutes, but it unfolds precisely to the characters' natures. The story involving the soldiers spending time in the monastery was also powerfully simplistic in the way it dealt with the themes of faith and sacrifice (the later stems to the other vignettes). And there are numerous other moments and scenes that can stop you dead in your tracks- a young child that cries in one scene and a nurse braving enemy territory had my mouth open.
I realize not that many people in my generation will seek out this film- notably since it's not easy to find except on-line- and certain scenes may seem too 'mushy' for some. However, there is worth to seeking out a work such as Paisa- in a sense, this and Rossellini's other early films were like the first independent films to Italy's claim. There isn't any sign in any of his post-war pictures that he's catering to studios or working on big budgets. These are stories being told with little money, non-professionals, and they definitely last years later after all the rubble was cleared. Maybe most remarkable is the way Rossellini and his writers (one of them Fellini) let things happen, and not without consequence or without logic of some sort.
It's also a technically brilliant feature, with the cinematography by Otello Martelli creating shots as heart-rending as the performances. So, for those who hate dictated plots, sloppy clichés, and all the other disappointments found in 21st century movie-making & storytelling, this is a great place to dip your toes. If anything, it's surely thrilling as a war film.
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