Rome, Open City (Roma, Citta Aperta)

  • Rome, Open City (Roma, Citta Aperta)
  • Director: Roberto Rossellini
  • Year: 1945

Roberto Rossellini's 1945 film Rome, Open City is one of the first films of Italian neo-realism, a style characterised by its naturalistic camera work and use of real locations and amateur actors. Neo-realism was largely a result of a wartime and post-war lack of resources, and of the temporary closure of Rome's Cinecittà Studios. However, it was also well-suited to documenting a troubled nation in search of identity.

Rome, Open City (aka Roma, Cittą Aperta)

Rome, Open City was made within a year of the liberation of Rome, and is set towards the end of the German occupation. It tells the story of the fugitive Giorgio Manfredi and the priest, Don Pietro Pellegrini who attempts to help him. As they play a game of cat-and-mouse with the Nazis, the film explores the lives of the Roman people under occupation, and the complex morality of the times.

While stories of Rome, Open City having been shot on rolls of film borrowed from photographers may be exaggerated (during a recent restoration, only three types of film were identified), the lack of other resources and the fact that Rossellini only had permission to make a documentary constricted the production and helped to give the film its gritty, edgy quality.

DVD Details

Rome, Open City is available on DVD in both the USA (Region 1, NTSC - entitled simply Open City) and the UK (Region 0, PAL). Sadly, neither transfer is of particularly good quality. The UK version also features an entertaining 47 minute documentary, The Children of Rome, Open City, which features conversations with the now-grown actors who played the boys in the film.

The DVD is also available in the UK as part of the Neo-Realist Collection, along with other classics including Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D.