Rome, Open City (Roma, Città Aperta) is a 1945 Italian neo-realist drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. The picture features Anna Magnani (in her film debut), Aldo Fabrizi and Marcello Pagliero, and is set in Rome during the Nazi occupation in 1944.
The title refers to Rome being declared an open city after 14 August 1943. In war, an open city is a settlement which has announced it has abandoned all defensive efforts, generally in the event of the imminent capture of the city to avoid destruction of historic and cultural landmarks. Once a city has declared itself an open city, the opposing military will be expected to peacefully occupy the city rather than destroy it. In the case of Rome, while landmarks might have been saved, the battle continued between the Italian Resistance and the occupying German forces.
The film won several awards at various film festivals, including the most prestigious Cannes' Grand Prize, and was also nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar at the 19th Academy Awards. The most intriguing thing about this film is to watch the powerful and human performance by Anna Magnani in her first film role. Rossellini handled the grim subject of occupation well, with the occasional instances of comical Italian characters in awkward situations. It is also amazing to see an antifascist film made so close to the liberation of Italy in 1945. Many scenes show people living in partially bombed-out apartment blocks. If this film doesn't bring your pathos to the surface, nothing will.
I happened upon this film yesterday on one of my vintage film channels, but it was such a terribly fuzzy print that I went searching to find a better one... this YouTube print is impeccable.
Click the image below to watch the film...