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23— Viva l'Italia! (1960)

1. Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 37. [BACK]

2. BFI Dossier Number 8 , 22. [BACK]

3. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 87-88. [BACK]

4. Andrew Sarris has also developed an interesting formulation of the zoom in this film in the dynamic terms in which I have been speaking of it. If he errs on the side of overschematization, and of an overly rigid view of the continuity of history and time, nevertheless his comments offer a provocative symmetry:

It is as if a painter could establish a dynamic relationship between his painting and one of its internal details. Garibaldi's men fight on a hill. Long shot equals then . Zoom shot equals now . The two shots in tandem are no longer limited to an imitation of an event. What we are watching is our own aesthetic and ideological distance from the event ("Rossellini Rediscovered," 62).

A related statement by Sarris about the relation of camera position and "moral position" concerns the sequence which shows the girl running to the beach, as the Thousand are preparing to cross the Strait of Messina to reach the mainland. Sarris correctly points out that the camera follows the girl through the sleeping town very closely, but, just as she gets to the beach and the troops are about to land, the camera pulls back "to emphasize the vast lateral distance involved between a moral impulse and a moral decision." The girl is killed, but "the camera keeps its cosmic distance." History is thus also kept distant, according to Sarris, in Rossellini's refusal to give in to a cheapening close shot. The problem with this analysis is that it completely ignores the heavy (Hollywood-style) sexual coding of this scene. [BACK]

5. All of his material, with one exception, came from the standard contemporary accounts by Abba, Bandi, Dumas père , and others. The exception was the climactic meeting between Garibaldi and Mazzini, at which no one else was present. For this dialogue, Rossellini went to letters Mazzini wrote shortly after the meeting. [BACK]

6. Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 71. [BACK]

7. MacCabe, "Realism and the Cinema," 20-21. [BACK]

8. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 248, 250-51. [BACK]

9. Dibattito su Rossellini , ed. Menon, p. 104. In the 1964 interview in Bianco e nero , Rossellini explained, rather cryptically, that using an older form of Italian for the dialogue "could become a little boring because of its antiquated form and the words that have fallen out of use. The result is that the realism of the dialogue is no longer realistic in our day, but it remains realistic because it is historically exact. But it's not with this that I want to make a claim to realism" ("Un cinema diverso per un mondo che cambia," 18). [BACK]

10. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 159. Actually, Mino Argentieri reports that the project began with this title because of Rossellini's desire to make it a chronicle of everyday life between May and October of 1860—and also with a view toward an American market for the film, which never developed ("Lo stivale di Garibaldi," La fiera del cinema , 2, no. 10 [October 1960], 37-41). Argentieri, in fact, quotes Sergio Amidei as saying that both films are about the liberated placing too much hope in their liberators. [BACK]

11. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 159. Another of Rossellini's proclivities may, according to Baldelli, have distorted the historical record in a small way. Early on in the film we see "partisans" hiding and conspiring in a monastery, much as they do in Era notte a Roma and other films. Later, the rebels are blessed by priests, and we see shots of monks running with rifles in their hands to Garibaldi's assistance, thus making clear the director's continual attempt to link religion and resistance. Baldelli has rightly pointed out that the Church itself was a bitter opponent of Garibaldi's, famed for his intense anticlericalism (nothing of which appears in the film), and that if these monks and priests joined the rebels, as Rossellini would have us believe, they did so under pain of excommunication. [BACK]

12. See Il Paese for January 28 and February 7, 10, and 21, 1961. [BACK]


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