2022 Blind Spot Series: Rome, Open City

 


What I knew going in: That Anna Magnani gives an excellent performance.

During Nazi occupation of Rome, a resistance leader Giorgio (Marcello Pagliero) attempts to hide with his friend Francesco (Francesco Grandjacet) and his soon to be wife, Pina. (Anna Magnani) Meanwhile, we also check on his ex lover Marina ( Maria Michi) and a helpful priest, Don Pietro (Aldo Fabritzi) who believes it's the Godly thing to help the resistance. 

Rome, Open City was never on my radar until I watched a video from the lovely Be King Rewind on Anna Magnani. Seeing it was available on HBO Max, it easily became part of my Blind Spot list. 

This film is BLEAK. How could it not be? It's about the Nazi occupation, but somehow I was still caught off guard by how relentless this movie is. It's dreadfully sad, but also incredibly brave. Director Roberto Rossellini started shooting this 2 months after the Nazis left Rome in 1944. The time this was made makes it feel more urgent and dangerous. These people lived through this, and now they're documenting it for the world to see the atrocities committed.

Like BKR pointed out, Magnani is tremendous, but so it Fabritzi. Aside from her, he gave my other favorite performance. Everyone here is good, but those two especially.

If I had to critique one thing, it was that I occasionally found the story hard to follow, particularly when we would go to Marina's story. She felt so disconnected from everything at first that I wondered why we were spending so much time with her. It makes sense in the end, but it still felt a bit odd.

I'm glad I watched this, and if you have access to HBO Max and have never seen it, you should too!

Grade: A-

Comments

  1. This is a great film and a great introduction into the world of Italian Neorealism as it just captured everything as it is and doesn't go for the happy endings. Yes, they're bleak films but this is truly one of the best. It is the first of a thematic trilogy relating to post-war Italy with Germany, Year Zero and Paisan as I hope to see those films soon. Yet, I think these films should be a reminder to Italy of what they're about to embark on since they just elected a far-right woman as their new prime minister. Oh, they're fucked.

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    1. I'll have to add those to my list! Yeah, their new prime minister is a ...choice. A dangerous one.

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  2. I can't say this is one that I'd ever run to see again because as you say it's grim and bleak. However it's also powerful and moving and I was glad to see it. Rossellini was a variable filmmaker, even his string of films starring his second wife, Ingrid Bergman are very uneven (Fear and Journey to Italy are quite good-Stromboli-obtuse and frustrating), but he does have two stone cold classics on his sheet, Paisan and this film. That said it would take a great deal to get me to watch it again even to witness the knockout performance of Anna Magnani.

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    1. Stromboli is another one I'm considering watching, now I'm concerned lol.

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    2. Stromboli is notorious as the film on which Ingrid and Rossellini became involved, she became pregnant and left her husband for him causing the kind of scandal that only happened before the 60's loosened mores but I found it a struggle. Ingrid's good naturally but the film is awash in neo-realism and the lead actor while extremely attractive was a non-professional. If you're looking for one of the films the pair made together the two I mentioned-"Fear" and "Journey to Italy" both from 1954-are better places to start.

      Speaking of "Notorious"....that is one of Hitchcock's best films coincidentally starring Ingrid along with Cary Grant and Claude Rains. If you haven't seen it that's one you can't go wrong with.

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    3. I think BKR talked about that in her youtube video too! I think you'd really like her channel if you listen to any youtube content. I haven't seen Notorious. I think that's one I will add to my 2023 Blind Spot.

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  3. I still have to see this film because I know it is very sad. My mom was never one for TV but she loved Anna Magnani.

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    1. It seems a lot of people do! I'm very behind on her work.

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