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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Rosselini shot 'Roma Città Aperta' in the open streets post-war. His film-making resources were limited, as is apparent in the film, since he uses natural lighting, non-professional actors and a delicate sound system) but it only gives the film a stark and more authentic look making the atmosphere more terrifying and a the experience more real. Most of the 'props' and 'sets' and even many of the Nazi soldiers were real. Unlike many historical films, this one does right by the historical facts (even though it's a work of fiction).
What is most outstanding is Rosselini's compelling storytelling. Instead of showing us a documentary account (due to lack of film-equipments) he gives us a moving story of resistance. I was also impressed by the subtle way he brought out the characters such as the homosexuality of the Nazis. He also extracts marvelous performances from his actors. Aldo Fabrizi and Anna Magnani stand out. The background score (though used minimally) adds some melodrama but not in a poor way.
If one can look beyond the poor technology of the film, 'Roma Città Aperta' is one of the most powerful films of its genre. Though the film may depress, and at some point horrify the viewer, the ending is profound and hopeful. In the end, it's a story about fear, courage, integrity and hope.
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