An illusion of truth in a surreal political fiasco (criterion.com)
Here is an extraordinary documentary film which reflects WWII’s Facism in Nazi occupied Rome. “Rome Open City raises awareness to what it is really like to lose our nation and freedom.
~ a commentary by: AWOLL (america on coffee) ~
Rome, Open City (Italian: Roma città aperta) is a 1945 Italian neorealist drama film directed by Roberto Rossellini. In its English subtitled release it was named Open City. The picture features Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani 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. The film won several awards at various film festivals, including the most prestigious Cannes’ Grand Prize, and was also nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar at the 19th Academy Awards.
In occupied Rome in 1944, German SS troops are trying to arrest the engineer Giorgio Manfredi, a communist and a leader of the Resistance against the Nazis and Fascists, who is staying in a rooming house.
The landlady warns him in time of the Germans’ arrival, so that he can elude them by jumping across the rooftops. He goes to the home of another Resistance fighter, Francesco. There he encounters Pina who lives in the next apartment.
Pina is Francesco’s fiancée, and is visibly pregnant. She first suspects Giorgio of being a cop and gives him a rough time, but when he makes it clear he is not, she welcomes him into Francesco’s apartment to wait for him.
With Pina’s help (she is also part of the Resistance), Giorgio contacts Don Pietro Pellegrini, a Catholic priest who is also helping the Resistance, and asks him to transfer messages and money to a group of Resistance fighters outside the city: because Giorgio is now known to the Gestapo, he cannot do it himself.
Don Pietro is scheduled to officiate at Pina’s and Francesco’s wedding the next day. Francesco is not very religious, but would rather be married by a patriot priest than a fascist official; Pina, on the other hand, is devout, but wrestling with why God would allow such terrible things to happen to people. Her son, Marcello, is a sort of reluctant altar boy.
He and his friends have a small role in the Resistance planting bombs. Pina’s sister Laura stays with her, but is not involved in the Resistance: in fact, she works in a cabaret serving the Nazis and Fascists. She is also an old friend of Marina, a girlfriend of Giorgio’s who has been looking for him, but with whom he is now splitting up. Marina also works in the cabaret, and as an occasional prostitute.
The Gestapo/SS commander in the city, helped by the Italian police commissioner, suspect that Giorgio is at Francesco’s apartment. They conduct a huge raid, pulling out all the people and arresting dozens of men. Giorgio gets away, but Francesco is thrown in a truck with other arrestees.
Seeing him being taken away, Pina breaks through a cordon of police and runs towards him, but is shot dead. The priest, who was in the building to hide weapons, under the guise of praying for a dying man, holds her in his arms and prays for her soul.
The truck drives away in a convoy with military vehicles, but outside of town it is attacked by Resistance fighters, and many of the captives escape. Francesco makes it back into Rome and reconnects with Giorgio. Together they go to the priest, who has offered to hide them in a monastery.
Marina betrays her former lover in exchange for drugs and a fur coat. Using information given by Marina, the Gestapo and Italian police capture Giorgio and the priest, along with an Austrian defector, on their way to the monastery. Francesco is saying goodbye to Marcello, and sees them get picked up and gets away. The defector, fearing torture, hangs himself in his cell.
The Gestapo try to get Giorgio to betray his comrades, but in vain: he does not respond to sweet talk, so they torture him intensely – they want to break him before word gets out that he was arrested, so they can take the Resistance by surprise with the information they hope to extract from Giorgio.
They also try to use Don Pietro’s influence on Giorgio to convince him to betray his cause, saying that he is an atheist and communist who is the enemy; but Don Pietro responds that anyone who strives to live a righteous life is on the path of God whether they believe in Him or not. They then force Don Pietro to watch Giorgio’s torture.
When Giorgio dies without revealing anything, Don Pietro blesses his body and commends him to God’s mercy (Last Rites and Sacraments cannot be given to someone who has died). Giorgio’s refusal to yield shakes the confidence of the Germans, including the commander, who had boasted to the priest and the collaborating woman that they were the “Master Race,” and no one from a “Slave Race” could withstand their torture.
Giorgio’s ex-girlfriend Marina and a German officer stumble into the scene while intoxicated; she faints when she sees that the Germans have tortured Giorgio to death, rather than treat him well as she had been led to expect. Realizing that she was responsible for this, she passes out. The Gestapo Chief and the collaborator decide that she is now useless to them and arrest her, taking away the fur coat they had given her as a bribe.
Don Pietro still refuses to crack, so he is taken out to be executed early the next morning, before his parish can learn of his arrest and respond with a protest. However, the parish altar boys/Resistance fighters show up to where Don Pietro is being executed and they begin whistling a tune which Don Pietro recognizes.
The Italian firing squad is lined up to execute Don Pietro, but some deliberately miss him. The German officer in charge of the execution squad walks over to Don Pietro as soon as he realizes that the Italians will not kill a priest, and executes Don Pietro himself. Wiki
“Rome, Open City (1945) full movie”