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Rome, Open City

For several decades after World War II, Italian neo-realism was widely regarded as a primary source of ideas about engaged and alternative filmmaking. Neo-realism itself arose out of the immediacy of the circumstances of the waning months and days of the war, and no single film better conveys those circumstances than the seminal Rome, Open City. The film evolved from a planned documentary about the activities of a priest working in the resistance into a script that steadfastly refuses to entertain conventional notions of heroism. In doing so, it provides its viewers an enormously engaging look at the co-operation between a Catholic priest and a Communist Party member in the face of their common enemy. Rome, Open City places the war itself not just against a background of everyday events, but is ever so effective in capturing the elusive complexity of how war is waged while ‘life goes on’.

1945. English subtitles. Black and white. 101min.

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