A landmark of Italian neorealism often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, Roberto Rossellini’s portrait of life under the Nazi Occupation remains remarkable for its sheer immediacy, tension and power.
Made in extraordinarily straitened circumstances immediately after the liberation of Rome, the film follows Manfredi (Marcello Pagliero), a partisan leader, as he attempts to evade the Gestapo by enlisting the help of Pina (Anna Magnani) fiancée of a fellow member of the underground resistance, and Don Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi), the priest due to oversee her marriage. Both Fabrizi and Magnani were well known comedic actors and perform magnificently against type. Shot both on the ravaged streets and in the studio, Rome, Open City seamlessly blends sequences reminiscent of documentary with more conventional dramatic scenes notable for their pace, precise staging and affectingly naturalistic performances. Its emotional punch remains undiminished.