Rossellini. Rossellini is one half of the Truffaut/Godard of Italian Neorealism movement with De Sica and I’m not sure there’s a Bicycle Thieves without Rossellini. Rossellini is the Godfather and unofficial founder of Italian neo-realism (though realism has always been a part of cinema with expressionism). Visconti has some claim to that as well with Ossessione but if I had to put one person’s face on that movement it would be Rossellini with the war trilogy: Rome, Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero. These three films are amongst the greatest of the entire 1940’s.
Best film: – Rome, Open City. It just smacked people across the face in 1945 and helped served as alternative to Hollywood. It may seem like just a drama by today’s standards of realism (from Kiarostami to the Dardenne brothers) but it’s a wonderful drama.
total archiveable films: 10
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 4 (Rome, Open City, Germany Year Zero, Journey to Italy, Paisan)
top 100 films of the decade: 6 (Rome, Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero, Journey to Italy, Il Generale Della Rovere, The Flowers of St. Francis)
most overrated: Journey to Italy. The TSPDT consensus has it at #73 and I’m at #299 so there is a disconnect here. I really like the film and still have work to do on it with subsequent visits but I have to call this one overrated at this point.
most underrated: Germany Year Zero. It’s devastating and the gloomiest Italian neorealist film I’ve seen. I love both films so this is no insult but if this came out before Rome, Open City think this would be regarded as the better film of the two. The TSPDT consensus has it at #226 and I’m at #199.
gem I want to spotlight: Paisan. I’m not as studied on Rossellini as say like Altman or Ozu but at this point I do think more of his 1940’s war trilogy than his 1950’s Ingrid Bergman films. This could change with time but for now I’m spotlighting this film which is “Chillingly blunt, doggedly unsentimental, and emotionally overwhelming”- cinepassion.
stylistic innovations/traits: Rossellini does brilliant work with natural set pieces and the rubble and ruins caused by WWII. He favored long shots, open endings (often unhappy endings), deglamorizing the myth of Hollywood. He was beloved by the Cahiers critics for telling his story through photography (Bazan)/realism and is endlessly influential to world cinema and indie cinema especially (to the tradition carried on by the Dardenne’s today).
- Rome, Open City
- Germany Year Zero
- Journey to Italy
- Il Generale Della Rovere
- The Flowers of St. Francis
- The Rise of Louis XIV
- Escape by Night
By year and grades
|1945- Rome, Open City||MP|
|1947- Germany Year Zero||MP|
|1950- The Flowers of St. Francis||HR|
|1954- Journey to Italy||MS|
|1959- Il Generale Della Rovere||HR|
|1960- Escape By Night||R|
|1966- The Rise of Louis XIV||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives