Sunday, January 31, 2010

Film Recommendation of the Week...

This week I present the war trilogy of Roberto Rossellini. He is considered the pioneer of the neo-realist style of film making that developed out of the ashes and ruins of post-WWII Europe. Rossellini is a director of great impact and importance in the history of film, and I will let the description from Criterion speak on the behalf of these films-

"Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and came to define the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images of both tragedy and hope."

Rome, Open City
Release date September 27, 1945.
Running time 1 hour 40 minutes.
Italian and German w/English subtitles.

This film is a fictional yet realistic account of the Nazi occupation of Rome, and those brave souls who dared to fight against Fascism. It was filmed while the Nazis were still in Italy, but had abandoned the then-recently liberated city of Rome.

Release date December 10th, 1946.
Running time 2 hours.
Italian/German/Sicilian/English w/English subtitles.

This film is broken down into 6 different parts, with stories that cover the whole of Italy and the struggles faced by people trying to recover their lives after liberation from the iron grip of Nazism.

Germany Year Zero
Release date December 1, 1948.
Running time 1 hour 11 minutes.
German w/English subtitles.

This film captures the ravaged city Berlin in the aftermath of it's capitulation to the Allied forces and the struggle to survive in this war-torn hellhole as seen through the eyes of a 12 year-old German boy.

So what made Rossellini's films so powerful? For the most part he used people who had no previous acting experience. This enabled him to mold the performances to his liking, as opposed to having the inevitable tug-of-war that quite oftentimes occurs on a film set between actor and director. He also had the fertile creative ground of post-war Europe as a backdrop for his human dramas, which more than anything emphasized the struggle for life like few catastrophes can capture.

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