1945 | Sometimes referred to as Rome, Open City | Drama/Italian Neorealism | 105 minutes
The film takes place in Nazi-occupied Rome in 1944. The Nazis are searching for Giorgio Manfredi, a Resistance fighter. He is warned of the danger and he hides in the home of another Resistance fighter Francesco and his fiancée Pina. Manfredi contacts the Catholic priest, Don Pietro, who is also helping the Resistance, and asks him to deliver messages and money to a group of Resistance fighters operating outside the city. The local SS officer becomes aware of where Manfredi is hiding and conducts a raid. Manfredi escapes but Francesco is caught and thrown in a truck with other Resistance fighters. Seeing Francesco being taken away, Pina breaks through the cordon of police and sprints towards the truck. In a wrenching scene, she is shot dead by the Nazis. Manfredi’s former lover, Marina, betrays him to the Nazis. The Nazis capture Manfredi and Don Pietro the priest. They torture Manfredi to divulge the names of the other Resistance fighters. Manfredi refuses and dies. Don Pietro also refuses to crack. Despite the fact that Don Pietro is a revered priest, the Nazis decide to execute him. It’s a decision that haunts the executioners. They are reluctant to shoot Don Pietro. It’s now up to the Nazi leader to take matters in his own hands. Directed by Roberto Rossellini.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Screenplay (Federico Fellini and Sergio Amidei)
Cannes International Film Festival: Grand Prize, Best Film; Best Director (Roberto Rossellini)
National Board of Review: Best Foreign Film; Best Actress (Anna Magnani)
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Foreign Language Film
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OPEN CITY is a world cinema landmark, but that dusty, respectful word does not do justice to a film that has not lost its power to surprise and even shock. Working with a young Federico Fellini, director Rossellini displays a sensitivity to character and psychology that is especially visible in the film’s more intimate scenes.
The feeling that flows most strongly through the film is one of supreme admiration for the people who fight for freedom’s cause. It is a quiet exaltation, conveyed mainly through attitudes and simple words, illuminating the spirit of devotion and sacrifice.
Rossellini’s tense, bloody, death-haunted film conjures an authenticity that’s based less on its quasi-documentary style than on a vision that brings ideas to life. The film offers a template for a postwar renewal of Italy, as well as of Italian cinema.
The film is a street opera, caught on camera during wartime, a story performed by a mixed cast of amazing professionals and earnest non-professionals. When Magnani runs down the street, chasing after her fiance who has been captured by the enemy, the guns come out and cinema history is made before your eyes.
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