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
The location: Nazi occupied Rome. As Rome is classified an open city, most Romans can wander the streets without fear of the city being bombed or them being killed in the process. But life for Romans is still difficult with the Nazi occupation as there is a curfew, basic foods are rationed, and the Nazis are still searching for those working for the resistance and will go to any length to quash those in the resistance and anyone providing them with assistance. War worn widowed mother Pina is about to get married to her next door neighbor Francesco. Despite their situation - Pina being pregnant, and Francesco being an atheist - Pina and Francesco will be wed by Catholic priest Don Pietro Pelligrini. The day before the wedding, Francesco's friend, Giorgio Manfredi, who Pina has never met, comes looking for Francesco as he, working for the resistance, needs a place to hide out. For his latest mission, Giorgio also requests the assistance of Don Pietro, who is more than willing as he sees...Written by
The character of don Pietro ( Aldo Fabrizi) reflects the partisan activity in Rome by don Giuseppe Morosini don Pietro Pappagallo., both eventually executed by the SS in 1944. See more »
I've led a bad life. I've done so much I shouldn't have. You think I'm not ashamed to be married in my condition? But you'd never understand. There are things you do without thinking, that you don't feel like you're doing wrong. I was so in love and he was so good, so decent. I know he could have found someone better, a young girl, not a penniless widow with a child who had to sell everything just to get by. And life just keeps getting harder. How will will we ever forget all this suffering, ...
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Photographed on scraps of film abandoned by German forces as they retreated from Rome toward the end of World War II, Roberto Rossellini's OPEN CITY was immediately hailed as a masterpiece of realism when it hit screens around the world in the late 1940s. Seen within the context of its time and with reference to the circumstances under which it was made, OPEN CITY is a staggering accomplishment; even so, by modern standards, it feels visually static and slightly contrived.
The great strength of the film is in the direct way Rossellini tells his story of Italian resistance fighters trying to dodge capture by the Nazis in occupied Rome--and in the performances of Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi as two Italians who become increasingly caught up in resistance activities. But time has not been entirely kind to the film: the story seems somewhat superficial, portions of it lack expected intensity, and some performances seem more than a little artificial, with a lesbian subplot, the famous torture scenes, and Maria Mitchi's performance cases in point.
Ironically, these drawbacks actually result from comparisons with later, still more realistic films that followed its example--and it is a great tribute to the strength of the film that it survives the revolution it started as well as it does. (One does well to recall that at the time OPEN CITY was made such slick Hollywood films as MRS. MINIVER were considered the height of realism.) Still, because of these issues I would hesitate to recommend OPEN CITY as an introduction to Italian neo-realism for one not already well-versed in it. But those with an established appreciation of Italian cinema will find it very rewarding.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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