Friday, May 17, 2013

A Master of Neorealism Puts Morals Before Aesthetics

Rome, Open City

This piece by Ken Morefield on Roberto Rossellini is one of the best things I've read all week. Ken looks at Rossellini's 1945 film, Rome, Open City, arguing that it was moral storytelling, plus a long view of history, that Rossellini was primarily concerned with--not aesthetic innovation. He writes:
Rossellini always frames his characters' struggles within a long historical perspective. The film's final shot juxtaposes children and the Roman skyline with St. Peter's dome featured prominently. This reminds us that as topical as the film was and as fresh as the psychic wounds from the war were (it was released less than a year after VE day), they were not unique in the world's history. Rome was an open city centuries before. Each generation must wrestle to live a good life regardless of the proximity of death.
He goes on to contrast the esteemed film and filmmaker with the likes of Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Ben Affleck (Argo):
In the world depicted by [Zero Dark Thirty], history extends only as far back as 9/11. The traumatic years of war in Rome, Open City are place in a broader, cosmic historical span that helps guard against our tendency to see our own moment in history as exceptional.
Give it a read.

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