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Open City, Roberto Rossellini        [ part I ] [ part II ] [ part III ]

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roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini


Italian cinema in Rome

La dolce vita

Roma by Federico Fellini


Open City, Roberto RosselliniLate in the evening Francesco comes back home from his work. The curfew is in vigour from five o’clock in the afternoon and Nina is worried for her son who has not come back home yet. With him are missing many other boys of the housing. While Nina is talking with Francesco and the engineer, a detonation is heard from outside and firelights are seen: someone near the railway station has blown up a van with gasoline. The authors are a gang of children of the quarter among which there is Nina’s son too. Their leader is Romoletto, an orphan without a leg, who lives in the garret of their housing. In the meantime in his office Kappler studies a way to catch Manfredi, hidden in the Prenestino quarter. He has been informed of his presence there, right in the area of the detonation. The following day in the morning, while Nina and Francesco are getting ready for their wedding ceremony, some palaces of the quarter are encircled by Nazi soldiers with the help of a group of Fascists. People are cleared of their apartments and grouped in the street in order to proceed with a search. In the meantime, Don Pietro is informed by Nina’s son of the presence of weapons and explosive in Romoletto’s house. Don Pietro reaches the boy and manages to avoid a ruthless repression by the Nazis, but not Nina’s tragedy.

Open City, Roberto RosselliniAll the men living in the same building, including the bridegroom, are boarded on the vans and taken prisoners. At first, Nina tries to revolt against the arrest of her man. She tears herself from the grasp of a German soldier, runs out of the courtyard where women and children have been gathered, rushes out on the street and runs following the Gestapo van screaming the name of Francesco. At this point, in one of the most important and touching scenes of Italian cinema, Nina is shot down by the bullets of German rifles. While the vehicle drives on, the woman falls to the ground, dead, under the eyes of her son Marcello and an helpless Don Pietro.

However after a few kilometres, the German column with the prisoners on board is attacked by a group of the Resistance. The prisoners manage to flee away, Francesco and Manfredi too. They reach together Marina, who has become now their last hope of salvation. As a matter of fact, Marina invites the two to hide themselves in her house.

Open City, Roberto RosselliniIn Marina’s house, Manfredi discovers that the girl is a morphine addict and has an argue with her. He would like to reproach her, but he doesn’t care. Manfredi declares that he has no rights on her. At the end he has only been an episode in her life, some thing temporary. “One of the many? ”, replies offended Marina, who confesses that the only reason why she has a beautiful house is because she had many lovers. If she had not those lovers, she says, now she might be perhaps the wife of tram driver and would had children and all of them wretch. Life is bad, is a dirty matter and she knows what means to be poor. Manfredi tells her that the rich life to which she aspires cannot surely make her happiness. But the girl replies that when he truly loved her he would try to change her, while now he was just reproving, proving himself to be even worse than all the other lovers she had. By the way what Manfredi ignored when he accepted the hospitality of Marina is that the girl is completely dominated by Ingrid, a turncoat of commandant Kappler, and that Marina is constantly in touch with her because she provides her with the morphine.
On the following day, Francesco and Manfredi leave the woman’s apartment and reach don Pietro’s where they will get new documents and then leave the town. The Austrian deserter, who had asked for help to don Pietro, will join them too. While Francisco is greeting Nina’s son, who has been hosted in the priest’s house, a car of the Nazi police stops in the street don Pietro, Manfredi and the Austrian soldier, and the three men are captured. Marina actually spoke with Ingrid and denounced her lover, in order to take a revenge on him.

In via Tasso, Manfredi is threatened and tortured, but he refuses to give the names of the followers of Badoglio that lead the Roman Resistance. Kappler tries to convince him to reveal their names saying that they are but reactionaries, adversaries of the Communists, and that he would therefore lose nothing denouncing them to the political police. Manfredi resists till the end and does not name any name.

Open City by Roberto Rossellini part III >>

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