Preferred Citation: Brunette, Peter. Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.




1. Andrew Sarris, "Rossellini Rediscovered," Film Culture , no. 32 (Spring 1964), 63.

2. Vincent Canby, New York Times , June 19, 1977, p. D7.

3. Robin Wood, "Rossellini," Film Comment , 10, no. 4 (July-August 1974), 6.

1— Early Film Projects

1. Interview with Marcella Rossellini Mariani, conducted in Rome in 1979.

2. Renzo Rossellini, Addio al passato: Racconti ed altro (Milan: Rizzoli, 1968).

3. Pio Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini (Rome: Edizione Samonà e Savelli, 1972), p. 253.

4. In a recent interview, Assia Noris maintained that she and Rossellini were actually married, with the consent of their families, in the Russian church that she attended. But for some reason—she could not say why—the civil ceremony never took place, her father came and "rescued" her from a San Remo hotel, and forty-eight hours later the marriage was annulled. According to Noris, the photographs of their "honeymoon" were never printed in the newspapers because Fascist censors considered the whole affair scandalous. In the same collection of interviews, Marcella De Marchis, usually considered Rossellini's first wife, and a lifelong collaborator on his films as well as the mother of his son Renzo, recounts how in May of 1936 she met Rossellini, who had been left by Assia Noris by that time for Mario Camerini, a popular director of comedy in the thirties. Marcella's family was very much against the marriage, especially since Rossellini's family had gone through all its money by this time, but Roberto worked his charm on them until they agreed. They were married that September, further upsetting her family when he refused to go through an elaborate religious ceremony. (See Franca Faldini and Goffredo Fofi, L'avventurosa storia del cinema italiano raccontata dai suoi protagonisti (1935-1959) [Milan: Feltrinelli, 1979], p. 12, for both interviews.)

Newspaper accounts of Rossellini's early life as a "notorious playboy" flourished early in 1950 with the outbreak of the scandal surrounding his love affair with Ingrid Bergman. These accounts are replete with juicy details of spurned lovers taking their lives, accusations against the morality of Rossellini's parents, and stories of Rossellini's days as a race-car driver before he "settled down." At this distance, however, it is impossible to separate the real from the sensational in these accounts. The interested reader is referred for further details to a two-part story that appeared in the New York Post on February 15 and 16, 1950.

5. Massimo Mida, Roberto Rossellini (Parma: Guanda, 1953), pp. 39-40.

6. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism: Rossellini Interviewed by Mario Verdone," Screen , 14, no. 4 (Winter 1973-74), 75. (Interview originally published in Italian in 1952. Here and elsewhere I have modified this translation.)

7. "A Panorama of History: Interview With Rossellini by Francisco Llinas and Miguel Marias," Screen , 14, no. 4 (Winter 1973-74), 96. (Interview originally published in Spanish in January 1970.)

8. Mario Verdone, Roberto Rossellini (Paris: Seghers, 1963), p. 19.

9. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 48.

10. Ibid., pp. 26-27.

11. Francesco Savio, ed., Cinecittà anni trenta: Parlano 116 protagonisti del secondo cinema italiano, 1930-1943 (Rome: Bulzoni Editore, 1979), vol. 1, p. 31. Quite another view is offered by Jose Guarner, the author of a small book on the director, who states quite simply, without citing any evidence, that "it seems very likely that Rossellini reshot most of the sequences directed by Alessandrini." ( Roberto Rossellini [New York: Praeger, 1970], p. 6.) In Perilli's account, Alessandrini was filming on location in Africa while Rossellini was filming interiors in Rome, and Alessandrini was upset when he discovered that his film had been tampered with. (Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 3, p. 924.)

12. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 48.

13. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 3, p. 962.

14. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 252. Rossellini goes on to say in this interview that everyone considered him crazy, but full of ideas. "So they used me, you know, like a drop of vinegar in a salad." He then tells the story of how he would ghostwrite scripts for a famous writer who paid him three thousand lire, one thousand in advance. When that money was gone, Rossellini would go to a little copying store in the tram station on Via Principe Amedeo, dictate the first half of the film, and then collect the second thousand lire. When that was gone as well, he would dictate the second half and be paid the final installment: "And with this kind of work I went ahead for a couple of years, not concerning myself with it in the slightest." (Incidentally, in this interview, the film is incorrectly referred to as Un pilota ritorna , but it is clear from the context that he is speaking of Luciano Serra, pilota .)

15. This organization was established in 1927 to provide instruction films, but eventually graduated to more overtly propagandistic films like Il Duce , which portrayed Mussolini in a favorable light.

16. Edward Tannenbaum, The Fascist Experience: Italian Society and Culture, 1922-1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1972), p. 269.

17. Adriano Aprà and Patrizia Pistagnesi, I favolosi anni trenta: Cinema italiano, 1929-1944 (Milan: Electa, 1979), p. 109.

18. Various histories of Italian postwar cinema have included the following as precursors of neorealism: early Neapolitan films such as Assunta Spina (1914) and Sperduti nelbuio (1916); Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912); Renoir's Toni (1934); Blasetti's Sole (1929) and 1860 (1934); Camerini's Rotaie (1929); Ruttman's Acciaio (1933); nineteenth-century Italian verists, such as the novelist Giovanni Verga; American genre films; American fiction; futurism; the writer and painter Leo Longanesi; and so forth. Obvi- soft

ously, the question is an enormously complicated one, too large to be taken up here; hence I have concentrated upon direct influences on Rossellini, rather than considering the sources of neorealism in general. The interested reader is referred to two useful recent histories of the period in English (Peter Bondanella, Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present [New York: Ungar, 1983], and Mira Liehm, Passion and Defiance: Film in Italy From 1942 to the Present [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1984]). The definitive history of the roots of neorealism, however, is Gian Piero Brunetta's Storia del cinema italiano 1895-1945 (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1979).

19. Georges Sadoul, Histoire générale du cinéma . Volume 6: L'Époque contemporaine: Le Cinéma pendant la guerre (1939-45) (Paris: Éditions Denoël, 1954), p. 105.

20. Film , no. 34 (September 17, 1938), quoted in Tannenbaum, The Fascist Experience , p. 275.

21. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , volume 1, p. 32.

22. Tannenbaum, The Fascist Experience , pp. 275-76. His quotation is from Mino Argentieri's article in Il cinema italiano dal fascismo all'antifascismo , ed. Giorgio Tinazzi (Padua: Marsilio Editore, 1966), p. 70.

2— La Nave Bianca (1941)

1. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 58. One difference between Rossellini and De Robertis that Bava does not mention is, that while the extent of the former's Fascist sympathies may be debated, most evidence indicates that he was neither more nor less Fascist than any other average apolitical citizen. De Robertis, on the other hand, was a firmly committed member of the party who joined Mussolini and the Nazis in the north of Italy when the Republic of Salò was formed in 1943, after the Duce had been jailed by the king and freed by the Nazis. De Robertis, in fact, maintained that his third feature-length film, Uomini sul cielo , was meant to demonstrate that "fighting exercised a beneficial effect on the minds of those who have not withdrawn from the supreme experience which life destines fatally to each man." (Quoted in Roy Armes, Patterns of Realism [South Brunswick and New York: A. S. Barnes, 1971], p. 42). It is utterly impossible to imagine Rossellini ever making a similar statement.

2. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 3, p. 963.

3. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 59.

4. "A Panorama of History," 96.

5. "Je profite des choses," interview with Jacques Grant in Cinéma [Paris], no. 206 (February 1976), 67.

6. Quoted in Roberto Rossellini: Il cinema, la televisione, la storia, la critica , ed. Edoardo Bruno. (Città di Sanremo, Assessorato per il turismo e le manifestazioni, 1980), p. 13.

7. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 37 (July 1954), 3-4.

8. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism," 72. (The word corale is misleadingly rendered as "human warmth" in the Screen translation.)

9. It should also be pointed out that the "rhetoric" of the love story is somewhat attenuated by the equally rhetorical, but excellent, musical score by Rossellini's brother, Renzo, which often substitutes for the less subtle dialogue. Similarly, one of the earliest critics of the film, Enrico Fulchignoni, writing in 1941, was impressed that at the high point of emotion at the end of the film, looks take the place of dialogue. ( Bianco e nero , 5, no. 10 [October 1941], 4.)

10. In a generally negative article that appeared just after the director's death in 1977, Jacques Demeure mentions seeing the Fascist insignia on the nurse's blouse, next to the Red Cross. ("Un débutant méconnu: Roberto Rossellini," Positif , no. 198 [Octo- soft

ber 1977], 37.) It is difficult to contest a personal observation, but the print of the film that I saw at the Museum of Modern Art in New York showed only the Red Cross. Roy Armes, in Patterns of Realism , also says, "The film ends with a close-up of a red cross" (p. 44). It is easy to imagine that Rossellini might have wanted to cut certain compromising shots, but impossible to believe that he could go into a close-up showing two insignia and remove one of them. The source of Demeure's error seems to be an article written some twenty years earlier by Marcel Oms, the most vicious attack ever directed against Rossellini, in which he says, "The film, finally, ends on a camera movement which frames the Fascist insignia pinned to the blouse of the nurse." ("Rossellini: Du fascisme à la démocratie chrétienne," Positif , no. 28 [April 1958], 10.) No other critic has ever mentioned the Fascist insignia.

11. Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi, Les Femmes et leurs maîtres (Paris: Christian Bourgois Editeur, 1978), p. 81.

12. Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi, La donna "nera" (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1976), p. 156.

13. Pietro Bianchi, L'occhio di vetro: Il cinema degli anni 1940-43 (Milan: Il Formichiere, 1978), p. 95. The article originally appeared October 31, 1941.

14. Adolfo Franci, "Diorama della Mostra di Venezia," Primi piani (October 1941).

3— Un Pilota Ritorna (1942)

1. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 59.

2. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 2, p. 606.

3. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 3, pp. 963-64.

4. It is this latter version of the scriptwriting struggle that Marcella De Marchis, Rossellini's first wife, seems to support when she says that "Roberto always tore the cinematography of the regime to bits. . . . There was a big fight with Vittorio, because he wanted the security of a completed script, while Roberto was creating and improvising, and there were fierce discussions because he hadn't turned in a beautifully finished script. So Roberto then made me his accomplice: 'Ask Marcella. I worked all night, no? Tell them, Marcella!' And he told them the script was ready, but he had forgotten it at [the summer house]. Actually, we played cards all night with some hunting friends, and at dawn we went hunting. When Un pilota ritorna came out, there still wasn't a real script." (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 59.)

5. Giuseppe De Santis, "Un pilota ritorna," Cinema [Rome], no. 140 (April 25, 1942), 227. Perhaps even more revelatory of the small world of Italian cinema is the fact that after writing negative reviews of Un pilota ritorna and L'uomo dalla croce , De Santis, later an important director in his own right ( Bitter Rice ), went on to screenwriting chores for Rossellini's next, never-completed film project, originally entitled Scalo merci .

6. R. M. DeAngelis, "Rossellini romanziere," Cinema [Rome], no. 29, n.s. (December 30, 1949), 356.

7. Aprà and Pistagnesi, I favolosi anni trenta , p. 109.

4— L'Uomo dalla Croce (1943)

1. Giuseppe De Santis, "L'uomo dalla croce," Cinema [Rome] no. 168 (June 25, 1943), 374.

2. Gianni Rondolino, Rossellini (Florence: La Nuova Italia, 1974), p. 48.

3. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 19.

4. This oscillation between the authentic and the artificial is also manifested in the dialogue, for Rossellini has included many regional accents and dialect words in his soldiers' speech. One could praise his concern to reflect the actual composition of the army, not allowing important regional differences to be dissolved in the false uniformity of standard speech. A harsher view, however, might regard this heterogeneity as forced and artificial, each soldier being made to mouth typical pronunciations and phrases that will instantly identify him for his fellow Italians. We see this, of course, in the war films of all countries, certainly in those of Britain and the United States, where each unit has its Scot or Brooklynite, Yorkshireman, or drawling Alabaman. One might also view this dialectal variation as in some way reflecting the Fascist ideology of the army as the great leveler, the transcendent, symbolic expression of the will of a country finally unifying itself to present for perhaps the first time in history a single face to the enemy.

In any case, as early as Un pilota ritorna , as we have seen, Rossellini is scrupulous about the languages his characters speak. This concern presents a problem in a country that has always abhorred subtitles, and thus large parts of Open City and Era notte a Roma , for example, go by in an untranslated German or English. At the time L'uomo dalla croce was made, Rossellini's interest in the authentic depiction of language was present, but unsure and confused. For example, when the priest is waiting with the wounded man, we hear Russian being spoken before we actually see the soldiers emerge from the dust and smoke (and, as in Un pilota ritorna , the images even carry Italian subtitles). In an earlier encounter between the Italian soldiers and the Russian peasants, each comically speaks his or her own language, and the Italian is able to get the eggs he wants only by means of an involved pantomime. Later, however, in the izba , Sergei and his girlfriend speak an unsubtitled Russian, while some of the peasants, presumably because their lines are more important to the plot or theme, improbably speak Italian to the priest.

5. One interesting quirk, which as far as I know occurs in no other Rossellini film, is a Kurosawa-like use of wipes to indicate a passage of time or a change in space. This technique is perhaps also appropriate to the heightened action of the war film, but its use is neither as convincing or as exciting as, for example, Kurosawa's in The Seven Samurai . At one point, Rossellini even moves from the outside of a tank to reveal its interior and its inhabitants by using an explosion wipe. The effect is one of artificially induced excitement that is thoroughly unconvincing.

6. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 227.

7. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 4.

8. Strangely enough, the rest of her story does not add up to one powerful effect. This seems to be either the fault of sloppy writing or an attempt to reflect honestly the fact that real human beings and the stories of their lives usually do not add up. Thus, after a lonely childhood, the young woman went to the university, became active in a party organization for lack of anything better to do, but "all the romantic and bourgeois ideas that I had inherited from my mother choked me." After that, she married a brute and discovered that "a man can love a woman in many different ways," like drinking a glass of liquor or tearing meat from an animal. Hour by hour, this man robbed her of her spirit until Sergei came along, who wanted her just for herself. Clearly, the anti-Communist message is somewhat vitiated by casting Sergei, the commissar, in the role of a loving, caring savior of the girl, though he is gotten rid of rather quickly. Conversely, the theme of the purposeful destruction of another's spirit, always important to Rossellini, is weakened by becoming more narrowly political in the rest of the film.

9. Mino Argentieri, "Storia e spiritualismo nel Rossellini degli anni quaranta," Cinema sessanta , 14, no. 95 (January-February 1974), 33. Marxist critics have often wanted to see per- Open City Rossellini as utterly Fascist, so that it would be easier to discredit the post- Paisan Rossellini of the "crisis." But apologists for the director are equally wrong when they try to get him off the hook, as when Massimo Mida calls L'uomo dalla croce the "least Rossellinian" of the early films because he found it embarrassing. Argentieri falls into the same trap when he implies that the distasteful parts of the film were solely the work of Fascist screenwriter Asvero Gravelli, with whose basic idea "Rossellini identifies partially: for half of it, he believes in what he is doing and this part of the film, if not convincing, is not, at least, execrable; the other half is in the service of Minculpop and the film doesn't try to hide it, collapsing into ridiculousness" (p. 32).

10. Sadoul, Histoire générale du cinéma , p. 105n.

5— Desiderio—A Special Case (1943–46)

1. Other sources, including Adriano Aprà's extensive filmography in Le Cinéma révélé: Roberto Rossellini , ed. Alain Bergala (Paris: Les Éditions de l'Étoile, 1984), pp. 162-86, maintain that more than half of the footage in the extant version of the film was shot by Rossellini.

2. Savio, Cinecittà anni trenta , vol. 3, p. 966.

3. In another interview, Rossellini said he had begun filming on July 15 or 16. (Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 237.)

4. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 70.

5. Giuseppe Ferrara, Il nuovo cinema italiano (Florence: Le Monnier, 1957), p. 83.

6. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 48.

7. Rondolino, Rossellini , p. 50.

8. Raymond Borde and André Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien: Une expérience de cinéma social (Lausanne: La Cinémathèque suisse, 1960), p. 26.

9. Nino Frank, Cinema dell'arte (Paris: Bonne, 1951), p. 151.

10. De Santis mentioned this in the context of an anecdote that also helps to explain Rossellini's unique position vis-à-vis the Fascist authorities: "We were writing the script of Desiderio and one evening . . . we were going home when we were stopped by a police patrol which demanded to see our papers. I didn't have a Fascist party card—but only because I had forgotten it at home in a drawer . . . and I could have gotten into trouble. Well, Rossellini, of whom Vittorio Mussolini and the Fascist Federation thought very highly, intervened, and everything was taken care of. (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 69).

11. Ferrara, Il nuovo cinema italiano , pp. 45-46.

12. It is also easy to understand his relationship with Vittorio Mussolini in terms of personal friendship rather than politics; Rossellini's first wife, Marcella De Marchis, has stated that the two men never talked about the regime and neither she nor Roberto were ever enrolled in the Fascist party. (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 59).

13. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 69.

6— Open City (1945)

1. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 90. An entertaining book by Ugo Pirro, Celluloide (Milan: Rizzoli, 1983) tells the story of the beginning of neorealism in enormous detail, including the filming of Open City . The problem is that the account is heavily fictionalized, with invented conversations and so on, and in the absence of a single note, source, or reference to an interview, the book cannot be taken as a definitive account of the period.

2. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 94.

3. Fabrizi has given an utterly different, completely unconvincing version of the genesis of this film. According to him, the idea of the full-length film was his, and he suggested adding the story of the children and the woman killed by the Nazis; the enlarged plot was then given to Rossellini, who Fabrizi introduced to Fellini. (See Angelo Solmi, Federico Fellini [London: Merlin Press, 1963], pp. 76-78, for a discussion of both accounts.)

4. Money posed a continual problem. De Sica tells an amusing story that gives a rather more realistic picture of how works of "genius" are made:

It's not as if one day we were all sitting around a table on the Via Veneto, Rossellini, Visconti, I, and the others, and said, "Hey, let's start neorealism." We hardly even knew each other. One day I was told that Rossellini had started working on a film again: "A film on a priest," I was told, and that was it. Another day I saw him and Amidei sitting on the entrance steps of an apartment building in Via Bissolati. I asked them what they were doing. They shrugged their shoulders and said, "We're looking for some money. We don't have enough dough to finish the film." "What film?" "The story of a priest, you know, Don Morosini, the one that the Germans shot" (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 90).

A small amount of money did come, eventually, from an unsteady stream of entrepreneurs and first-time producers, who contributed whatever small change they could and then went their way. Several years later Rossellini was to tell a reporter for Variety that it had cost 11 million lire ($19,000) to make the film, complaining that it should only have cost 6 million ($10,400) ( Variety , November 3, 1948). Rossellini himself sold nearly everything he and his estranged wife owned to finance the filming (he ended up losing about $600), which was done in a makeshift studio in the Via degli Avignonesi small enough, according to Fellini, to be filled with the smoke from ten cigarettes. The only scenes shot in this "studio" were those in the Nazi headquarters (meant to replicate the infamous S.S. center on the Via Tasso), Don Pietro's room, and Marina's apartment. (During the filming of the sequence in Marina's apartment, the actress apparently went to open the door because the script required her to listen in on Manfredi, only to find that the door had been painted on). One other reason for making the film here was that they could tap into the electricity that the Allied forces were providing for the newspaper Il Messagero . Since the electricity came on only at night, it was then that the principle interior shooting was done. All the other scenes were shot on actual streets.

According to Omar Garrison in the New York Post (February 1, 1950), Rossellini had hidden a stolen camera in his apartment on the Piazza di Spagna and had secretly begun shooting sequences of the Germans changing the guard, one day accidentally finding himself filming the roundup of hostages. There is no other evidence, however, to suggest that Garrison's account is in any way correct. Similarly, the often-repeated story that Rossellini filmed the actual departure of the German troops from Rome is more a testimony to the convincing power of his mise-en-scène than to the truth. (In one interview, however, Rossellini does insist that filming began on January 19, 1944, that is, five months before the Germans left, but other testimony has it that this date actually marks the beginning of the preproduction planning of the film. It is true, nevertheless, that Rossellini was able to use real German prisoners of war in the film.) Another exaggeration is George Sadoul's statement, not supported by any elaboration or listing of sources, that the scenario for the film was "almost literally dictated" to Rossellini and Amidei by one of the heads of the Resistance. ( Histoire du cinéma mondial des origines à nos jours , 9th ed. [Paris: Flammarion, 1972], p. 329).

The story of how the film finally found its way to the United States, with such great success, is fascinating. It seems that on the floor above the makeshift studio of the Via degli Avignonesi was a bordello, heavily frequented during the hours of shooting, unfortunately, and especially popular with the newly arrived American troops. A continuous stream of lust-minded young men would stumble into the filming area, drawn by the bright lights, thinking that they had found what they had been looking for. Fellini tells a wonderful story about how a drunken American sergeant named Rod Geiger stumbled in the studio one evening while looking for a girl, fell flat on his face, and commenced bleeding profusely from the nose. When he had recovered sufficiently to ask what was going on, he insisted that he was a big American film producer and wanted to buy the film. In fact, he did precisely that, finally paying twenty thousand dollars for the rights. He took the few copies to the United States, sold the rights to a real distributor, and the film went on to enjoy an enormous success at the World Theater in Manhattan, where it ran uninterrupted for over a year.

5. In later years Sergio Amidei, clearly the principle motivating force behind the initial screenplay, became somewhat bitter, as screenwriters are wont to do, because he was largely excluded from the encomia heaped upon the director. As he tells it—and independent evidence often supports him—many of the characters and the episodes of the film were taken directly from his own life. Much more politically committed than the rest of the production team, he had, in fact, once escaped the Germans by going over the rooftops of the surrounding apartment houses, just as Manfredi does in the beginning of the film. Cesar Negarville, an important Resistance leader on whom the character of Manfredi is said to have been principally based, actually had a room in Amidei's apartment, put there by Amidei's landlady, who appears in the opening shots of the film. Maria Michi, Amidei's girlfriend at the time, had also actually once called Amidei while a German raid was in progress, just as happens in the film. Amidei further maintained that the episode in which Pina is shot down by the Germans as she chases after her captured fiancé, Francesco, was taken from a real event that had occurred on the Piazza Adriana that he had learned about in Unità , the underground Communist newspaper. The actual iconography of Pina's moving, desperate gesture, though, interestingly enough, came from an altogether less elevated source. According to Amidei, Magnani was arguing furiously one day with her boyfriend of the moment: to save himself, he jumped on the back of a film production truck that was just then pulling away, and the company was treated to the sight of Magnani running after him, violently hurling the worst insults in his direction. It seemed such an effective piece of drama that Amidei wrote it into the script. (See Amidei's " Open City Revisited," New York Times [February 16, 1947, sec. 2, p. 5].) What Amidei neglects to mention is that, according to Patrizia Carrano, Magnani's biographer, he wanted to trip her with a wire to make the scene more convincing, but Rossellini refused. ( La Magnani: Il romanzo di una vita [Milan: Rizzoli, 1982], p. 98.)

Many of the film's details were suggested by the real life of Father Giuseppe Morosini. "Jane Scrivener" tells us, for example, that he was betrayed to the gestapo, who found arms and a transmitter he had collected for the men he was hiding. The pope tried to save him, to no avail, but he was allowed to say mass on the morning of his execution. Her account of his last moments is very close to what happens in the film:

Before being blindfolded he kissed his crucifix, blessed the platoon of soldiers who were to shoot him, and publicly forgave the man who had betrayed him. Possibly because the executioners were overcome by his quiet heroism, he was not killed by their volley, and fell to the ground, wounded but conscious. He begged for the Sacrament of Extreme Unction . . . , after which the commanding officer shot him at the base of the skull with a revolver ( Inside Rome With the Germans [New York: Macmillan, 1945], p. 152).

Even Don Pietro's last lines—"It's not difficult to die, it's difficult to live"—are, according to Giuseppe Ferrara, who quotes from Salvatore Morosini's book on his brother Don Morosini, the real priest's final words ( Il nuovo cinema italiano , p. 106. Ferrara also suggests that the Nazi Bergmann was a composite of Kappler, the head of the S.S. on the Via Tasso, and Dolman, the German commander of Rome during the occupation.)

6. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 95. Another aspect of the film's "conventionality" is that characters often seem to be filling preconceived roles derived from the stage and vaudeville. Thus Rossellini uses a kind of character shorthand to fix a "type," as in his treatment of Don Pietro. He is presented as a buffoon right from the beginning—when he is hit with the soccer ball—and the effective, if somewhat cute, piece of comic business with the statue of San Rocco and the naked Venus seems instantly to fix him for us as a whimsical, and in many ways frightfully innocent, man, enhancing the incongruity of the fact that he is about to enter a clandestine printing shop. All of this is well done; the only point to be made is that this kind of character typing (Manfredi as the heroic partisan, Pina as the poor but honest romana , Marina as the corrupt prostitute) so dear to the nineteenth-century novel, the popular stage, and Hollywood melodrama, is something that Rossellini will for the most part avoid in his later work.

7. The War Trilogy of Roberto Rossellini (New York: Grossman, 1973), p. 126. (All further references to the script will be included in the body of the text.)

8. Magnani's account of her feelings about this scene are revealing:

During the roundup, when I walked through the front door, suddenly I saw everything all over again, and I was taken back to the time when they took away the young men. Boys. Because these were real people standing against the walls. The Germans were real Germans from a P.O.W. camp. Suddenly, I wasn't me any more. I was the character. And Rossellini had prepared the street in an incredible way. Do you know the women were white when they heard the Nazis talking among themselves? This made me understand the anxiety I projected on the screen. Terrible. Who would have expected an emotion like that? That's how Rossellini worked. And, at least with me, let me say it again, the system worked (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 95).

9. Leo Braudy, Focus on Shoot the Piano Player (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972), p. 4; Jean Desternes, Revue du cinéma , no. 3 (December 1946), p. 65.

10. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 227. Giuseppe Ferrara has somewhat impressionistically described another technical aspect of the film—its lighting—which, while certainly conventional, is nevertheless accomplished with consummate skill, especially given the home-movie myth that encumbers most discussion of this film. Though the lighting is described by Amidei as thoroughly unexciting, Ferrara notes the complex thematic ways in which Rossellini uses it. For example, much of the film takes place in cramped interiors, outer darkness, or deep shadows, since this is where, according to Ferrara, "the human struggle itself takes place." When we first see the "natural" figure of Pina early in the film, daylight enters the apartment to warm and highlight her features. The corrupt Marina, on the other hand, is seen only by means of harsh, bright, artificial lighting in one scene after another. In the gestapo headquarters of the Via Tasso, the light is dense and stagnant, symbolic of the sick and dying atmosphere it fills. At the film's most hopeless moment—not the final murders, of course, because they in their own way speak of transcendence, but, rather, in the cell where Manfredi, the priest, and the Austrian deserter are kept—we can barely make out the figures or even the walls in the oppressive darkness. (Ferrara, Il nuovo cinema italiano , p. 111.)

11. Quoted in Lo splendore del vero: Quarant'anni di cinema di Roberto Rossellini, 1936-1976 , ed. Giuliana Callegari and Nuccio Lodato (Pavia: Amministrazione provinciale, 1977), p. 42.

12. Armando Borrelli, Neorealismo e marxismo (Avellino: Edizioni di Cinemasud, 1966), pp. 81-84.

13. Mario Cannella, "Ideology and Aesthetic Hypotheses in the Criticism of Neo-Realism," Screen , 13, no. 4 (Winter 1973-74), 22-23.

14. Mino Argentieri, "Storia e spiritualismo," 37.

15. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 49. Interestingly, the initial reaction of one of America's greatest film reviewers, James Agee, was surprisingly like that of Baldelli. Writing in the April 13, 1946, issue of the Nation , Agee said that, while he was not sure, he thought that the coalition between the Church and the party depicted in Open City was not to be believed and that the Italians were "being sold something of a bill of goods." His worry, perfectly in character for the author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men , was that the common people could very easily be sold out for the benefit of the two institutions, at the expense of their own freedom.

16. Others have discussed the sexual subtext of this film from alternative points of view, but with unconvincing results. Thus, the historian Pierre Sorlin, for example, comparing Open City with Vergano's The Sun Rises Again , finds a dark allegory of sexual punishment at work in the two films. Noting that a woman is also killed in Vergano's film, he insists:

There is no narrative necessity for the two women to be shot. Look at them, lying on the ground: both are photographed from above, with the feet in foreground, the head in the background, the skirt tucked up, the thighs conspicuous. The shots were carefully arranged, and chance played no part in the exposure of two half-naked [sic!] women. In both films, Pina and Matelda were guilty of sexual transgression, Pina for being pregnant without being married, Matelda for having lovers. . . . The series of victims is well arranged, in ascending order: war-fighting-men have to die. Why is there a war? Because somewhere there is guilt. Offence: sex; punishment: the death of the "bad women."

(Pierre Sorlin, The Film in History [London: Oxford University Press, 1980], pp. 201-2; quoted in BFI Dossier Number 8: Roberto Rossellini , (London: BFI, 1981), p. 10.) The editors of the British Film Institute dossier further compound Sorlin's distortion in their simple-minded summary of the film from this point of view, when they insist, "In this set of equations underpinning the textual economy of Rome Open City , straight sex (heterosexuality) is punishable by death while homosexuality is associated with fascism. Under these circumstances, it appears almost logical that the only solution possible is catholicism and priesthood" (p. 10). Even were Sorlin's terms granted, of course, Pina is being punished for sex before marriage, thus the neat reductio ad absurdum equation the editors offer neglects the alternative of "wholesome" sexuality in marriage.

17. Ben Lawton makes an interesting, if not altogether convincing, case in this direction, seeing the crippled boy leader of the band, Romoletto, as "little Rome," and thus a founder of a new Rome, like Romulus. Only this time, he is crippled, both emotionally and physically ("Italian Neorealism: A Mirror Construction of Reality," Film Criticism , 3, no. 2 [Winter 1979], 14).

18. Carlo Lizzani, Film d'oggi (November 3, 1945). It is certainly true that Lizzani expressed reservations about what he regarded as the amateurishness of the scenes in the gestapo headquarters, but it is a serious distortion to try to make out his review as negative, as some have.

19. Alberto Moravia, La nuova Europa (September 30, 1945), 8.

20. Alessandro Blasetti, Cinema italiano oggi (Rome: Carlo Bestetti, 1950), p. 48.

21. Mario Gromo, Film visti (Rome: Edizioni Bianco e Nero, 1957), p. 7.

22. Desternes review, Revue du cinéma , 66. Henri Agel will later say of Open City that it is here, where reality shows itself bloody and torn, that "we discover the secret meaning of things." ( Le Cinéma a-t-il une âme? [Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1952], p. 50.)

23. Georges Sadoul, Les Lettres françaises (November 15, 1946). Making his own preference for realism very clear, he insists that he would give all of Cocteau's La Belle et la bête for the single shot of the floating dead partisan in the opening of the last episode of Paisan .

24. John McCarten, New Yorker (March 2, 1946), 81.

25. Life (March 4, 1946), 111.

26. James Agee, Nation (March 23, 1946), 354.

27. Jurij Lotman, The Semiotics of Cinema (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1976), p. 67.

28. Lotman, p. 69. Georges Sadoul said something similar, using a different frame of reference, many years ago in connection with Paisan: "Rossellini's method excluded neither research nor elaboration. Paisan was the most expensive Italian film made in 1946. Its poverty was only apparent, and it would be ridiculous to explain the birth of neorealism by the hardships that reigned in the country at that time. The distrust of beautiful 'photography' was in fact a supreme refinement, the creation of a new style, soon to be imitated everywhere" ( Histoire du cinéma mondial , p. 330).

29. Interview with Fereydoun Hoveyda and Jacques Rivette, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 94 (April 1959), 6.

30. André Bazin, What Is Cinema? (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), vol. 2, p. 27.

31. Ibid., p. 100.

32. Ibid.

33. Ibid., p. 60.

34. Quoted in Linda Nochlin, Realism (New York: Penguin, 1971), p. 14. This kind of essentialist language is not limited to phenomenologists or Hegelians, of course. Thus, Giuseppe Ferrara considers the Po sequence of Paisan the peak of neorealism because: "Flaherty, Murnau, and Renoir, even though they had understood man and nature, are here leapt over with a single jump, in a savage aggression on the object, a vital incision into things, detailed to the limits of the bearable, when every mythology is broken apart and reality reveals itself to our eyes, which then penetrate it to its roots" (Ferrara, Il nuovo cinema italiano , p. 138).

35. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, "What Is Phenomenology?" in European Literary Theory and Practice , ed. Vernon W. Gras (New York: Dell Publishing, 1973), p. 80.

36. Harold Brown, Perception, Theory, and Commitment (Chicago: Precedent Publishers, 1977), pp. 81-82.

37. Quoted in Realism and the Cinema , ed. Christopher Williams (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), p. 177.

38. Lotman, p. 65.

39. Bazin, What Is Cinema? , vol. 2, p. 97.

40. Ibid., p. 101.

41. Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), p. 203.

42. Bazin, What Is Cinema? vol. 2, p. 27.

43. The overwhelming impression of reality in the film was such that Maria Michi reported being threatened with a knife because she collaborated with the Germans. In fact, one reads reports rather often of the same sort of basic confusion of realism and reality occurring in the minds of present-day, supposedly visually sophisticated, television viewers. One actress has even told the story of how she was watching herself on television one night. Her character was about to get out of the car, and an aggressor was waiting for her. Just at that moment the telephone rang; it was the actress's cousin, calling to warn her not to get out of the car.

44. Pio Baldelli commits himself so thoroughly to a realist Rossellini that he complains peevishly about "unrealistic" elements that have been noticed, as far as I can determine, by no one else. Thus, he objects to the fact that the children could not realistically have been present at the priest's execution, that the parents surely would not have let them out, that the soldiers surely would have seen the children or heard them whistling, and so on. (Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 38.)

7— Paisan (1946)

1. In Geiger, Rossellini seems to have found a somewhat coarser brand of himself, a talk-it-up salesman full of the grandest schemes, but lacking the director's genuine charm and culture. Fellini's account is worth quoting in full:

"Who do you want?" Geiger said. "What do you mean, Gregory Peck? I'll bring them all here for nothing, they'll come with me." So a list of names was made—Gregory Peck, Lana Turner. He then goes off to America, and one day sends us a telegram: "Am arriving in Naples." So we went to Naples. A boat moors, and this character gets off. It was Geiger, who got off with six people and said: "These are the new American stars. Who cares about Gregory Peck and Lana Turner, these are the ones popular in America." We believed everything because we knew nothing. "This one here is better than Paul Robeson," and he presents a Negro to us. "This one here . . . who cares about Lana Turner?" Later, talking to these people who were rather intimidated and modest, we found out that one was a cafe waiter, another was a secretary, the black was a singer. . . . In other words, they were people he had just picked up and given a couple of bucks. (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 108.)

Ian Johnson, in a short article in Films and Filming (12, no. 5 [February 1966], 40) reports that Gar Moore (Rome sequence), Dale Edwards (Po), Dots Johnson (Naples), and Harriet White (Florence) were those brought over by Geiger.

2. Massimo Mida, who served as an assistant director on the film, has reported that plans for the entire first sequence, which concerns the encounter of the newly arrived American forces with a Sicilian village and the young girl with whom one of them becomes involved, were seriously affected by the strong presence of the young Sicilian woman found near Naples and the American soldier chosen from among the American soldiers then stationed in the same city. In fact, Rossellini's efforts to "direct" Carmela, the Sicilian girl, proved difficult, as she had grown up in acute poverty in primitive conditions, and could barely read and write. According to Mida, she had a great deal of trouble mastering the lines and the movements, but the choice had been made, and Rossellini plunged ahead. Her astonishing presence on the screen obviously makes up for whatever difficulties she may have caused. After spending time with this "civilized" troupe, unfortunately, she was unable to go back to her former life, and it is with some embarrassment that Mida calls her "the first victim, therefore, of neorealism." ( Roberto Rossellini , p. 36; see also Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 109).

Similarly, the Naples episode, which concerns the meeting of the black G.I. and the poverty-stricken shoeshine boy living by his wits, was developed only after the characters had been chosen. For the Florentine episode, former partisans were asked for "technical assistance," while the episode that takes place in the monastery was completely rewritten after Rossellini had come in contact with the real monks he was about to film. (Mida takes some pains to convince us that the fact that monks actually from the Amalfi coast were passed off in the film as being from the area around Bologna makes no difference. He is absolutely right. It is only the mythic aura and rhetoric of "realism" that makes him feel he has to argue the point in the first place.)

3. Quoted in Suzanne Budgen, Fellini (London: British Film Institute, 1966), p. 88.

4. Roy Armes suggests that the source for this episode is Curzio Malaparte's novel The Skin , which also concerns the "buying" of a black soldier long enough to get him drunk and steal his things (Armes, Patterns of Realism , p. 77).

5. Armes complains that this is the most contrived episode in the film because the flashback is a "remove from true neo-realist practice." (Ibid.) This is a good example of the kind of gratuitous rule making that afflicts many critics of Italian neorealism, more intent on establishing prescriptive categories and defending them than on describing what they see. It is even more useless when this "rule" is applied retroactively to one of the very films most often thought as establishing neorealism.

6. It should be remembered, however, that the thematic connections among these episodes are always more suggestive than specific. Thus, I think that Ian Johnson, in the article in Films and Filming , is moving in an unprofitable direction when he says that the six episodes of the film correspond to the "Six Great Evils of War": "injustice, human misery, degradation, the universality of war's suffering, insensitivity through familiarity, and futility" (p. 42). Rossellini simply does not work in this overly programmatic way.

7. Interestingly, all of the English that American audiences hear—and it is a great deal—is also retained in the Italian version of the film; thus bereft of subtitles, since they are rare in Italy, Italian audiences are forced to reenact the struggles of their fellow Italians to understand their American "friends."

8. In his brilliant, if eccentric, essay on Paisan , Robert Warshow complains that the existential truth of this sequence is ruined by the failed communication between Joe and Carmela, which attempts "to draw vague populist sentiment out of a purely accidental limitation, as if there were some great truth still to be discovered in the fact that one person speaks English and another Italian, and yet both are human beings" ( The Immediate Experience , 2d ed. [New York: Atheneum, 1971], p. 252). In this formulation, at least, his characterization of Rossellini's theme seems reductive, fashioned primarily to score rhetorical points.

9. Armes, Patterns of Realism , p. 78.

10. Warshow, The Immediate Experience , p. 259. Callisto Cosulich relates the interesting anecdote that in order to pass the American censorship then in effect, the film treatment that Rossellini and the others prepared for Admiral Stone showed each episode ending with a white cross in a military cemetery; they explained to him that "this means that the film is meant as a respectful and affectionate homage to the memory of those Americans who lost their lives for the liberation of Italy, and is meant to be a message to their country" ( "Cosi nacquero 'Paisa' e 'Roma, città aperta,'" Antologia di Cinema Nuovo 1952-58 , ed. Guido Aristarco [Rimini: Guaraldi Editore, 1975], p. 674). This anecdote suggests that the Italians were a little less servile to the Americans than other circumstances might indicate.

Baldelli reports that Amidei's original version of the last episode was meant to stoke Italian patriotic feelings by having the American officer parachute into the mountainous Val d'Aosta rather than the plains of the Po, where he was to meet big, strong partisans all taller than he. Apparently, there was difficulty finding snow, and when the company stopped in the Po delta, the story of Dale and Cigolani was invented on the spot and filmed (Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 60).

11. Roger Manvell, "Paisa, Rossellini, e la critica inglese," Cinema [Rome], no. 28 (December 15, 1949), p. 322. The quotation from McGregor is from the original English, in Time and Tide , rather than a retranslation of Manvell's Italian version.

Others have at the same time seen the film as anti-British, especially, as might be expected, the British. Manvell said in the above-cited article that, while British opinion of the aesthetic quality of the film was mostly favorable (with a handful of naysayers), the dismay about the film's anti-Britishness was general. The principal points of contention concern, first, the two British officers sightseeing from the hills of Florence with their binoculars while partisans are dying in the streets below, and second, the sarcastic remark by an American in the last episode, "These people aren't fighting for the British Empire. They're fighting for their lives."

12. Armando Borrelli, Neorealismo e marxismo , pp. 81, 85. Henri Agel has argued persuasively, from a phenomenological point of view, against an overly tragic and depressed reading of the final sequence, especially in terms of the last images that come before us. Disagreeing with the common critical view of the ending as thoroughly down-beat, Agel instead makes the point that the ending must be read in the fuller context of Rossellini's other films. In support of his view, he quotes Gaston Bachelard's L'Eau et les rêves , in which the philosopher says that water is "the essential ontological metamorphosis between fire and earth." Water can also be seen as the source of fecundity—in other words, as the location of a possible physical and spiritual rebirth—and Rossellini in fact uses this association, according to Agel, in the opening sequence of the film he made four years later on the life of Saint Francis of Assisi in which the monks are bathed in a wonderfully insistent and life-giving rain. Thus, when the partisans are pushed into the water at the very end of Paisan , it can be seen as a birth and death at the same time. The voice-over announcing the Allied victory in the spring, in this reading, would not be the bitter and ironic counterpoint that most critics have seen in it, but rather a kind of cause-and-effect analysis. It is, in fact, the men's sacrifice, says Agel, that causes the liberation of Italy that the voice-over is announcing as about to take place in the future. ( Poétique du cinéma: Manifeste essentialiste [Paris: Éditions du Signe, 1973], p. 81).

13. Freddy Buache, Le Cinéma italien d'Antonioni à Rosi (Yverdon, Switzerland: Le Thiele, 1969), pp. 24-25.

14. Roland Barthes, Mythologies (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), pp. 138ff.

15. Warshow, p. 256.

16. Gian Luigi Rondi, Cinema italiano oggi (Rome: Carlo Bestetti, 1966), p. 39.

17. We should also distinguish here, perhaps, between "past documentary" and "present documentary." Something about the absolute raggedness of all the elements of the documentary footage (for example, of the Allies entering Rome) tells us this is a filmed record of something that actually happened and that it preexisted the filming itself. On the other hand, at least the Naples episode further complicates matters by inserting the fiction into the documentary, in a process that seems to be the opposite of the use of the past documentary. I am thinking specifically of one of the exterior shots of this episode in which the boy drags the drunken soldier across a piazza toward the puppet show. The sequence is filmed in a real location, with hundreds of obviously genuine Neapolitans peopling the shot who clearly have no idea what is going on, many of whom, in fact, are looking directly at the camera. In some sense that remains to be specified, this, too, is documentary footage.

18. A good example of what I mean here might be the elaborate overlapping of sounds that has become the trademark of Robert Altman's films. When this technique first appeared in his film M*A*S*H , audiences were bewildered by the fact that everybody was talking at once. We know of course that this is in fact the way groups of people talk in real life, but, with the exception of limited use by Orson Welles and a few others, it was new to the screen. Nevertheless audiences quickly became used to this expansion of the "realistic" toward the "real," or, better, the incorporation of this aspect of the latter into the former, and now it has become a staple of television shows that vaunt their realism, like "Hill Street Blues." Needless to say, the almost complete inscription of this "aspect of reality" into the code of the realistic has made it much less exciting and vibrant, and seeing it repeated, week after week, makes its conventionality totally transparent (along with the hand-held camera in front of which characters continually walk, "realistically" blocking our view.)

19. Warshow, pp. 252-53.

20. Warshow attributes the power of sequences like these to their lack of ideas:

The speed of the action combined with the neutrality of the camera tends to exclude the possibility of reflection and thus to divorce the events from all questions of opinion. The political and moral distinctions between the snipers and their captors do not appear (even the visual distinction is never very sharp), and the spec- soft

tator is given no opportunity to assent to the killing. Thus the scene derives its power precisely from the fact that it is not cushioned in ideas: events seem to develop according to their own laws and to take no account of how one might—or "should"—feel about them (pp. 253-54).

21. Similar to the unresolvability of the monastery sequence is a point of undecidability that Ben Lawton has noticed concerning the Naples episode. In his view, the puppet-show battle between the Moor and the Saracen (into which the drunken G.I. wades feetfirst to "help out" his fellow black man) offers us a key to how to read the whole film:

The distinction between oppressor and oppressed is tenuous at best. Although present throughout the film, this concept is perhaps most perfectly synthesized in the G.I. in the second episode: Joe is Black (and as such oppressed), a member of the American occupation forces (and, as such, an oppressor), drunk (and, as such, oppressed), and an M.P. (and, as such, an oppressor). Which is he ultimately? (Lawton, "Italian Neorealism," p. 16)

22. Solmi, Federico Fellini , p. 80.

23. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 110.

24. Ingrid Bergman, My Story (New York: Delacorte Press, 1980), pp. 3-4.

8— Germany, Year Zero (1947)

1. Roberto Rossellini, "Dix ans de cinéma," part 2, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 52 (November 1955), 5.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., p. 4.

4. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 111.

5. Ibid. Quentin Reynolds, who was gathering material for his book Leave It to the People , wrote that Rossellini told him that the film would cost $115,000 to make, and the reason it was so expensive was because of all the location shooting in Germany. The "actors" were chosen, in Rossellini's normal fashion, from among those with little or no experience. Accompanied by an old friend who had been locked up in a Nazi jail for fifteen years, Rossellini found real British soldiers, assorted Nazi generals, exwrestling champions, and literature professors to round out the cast.

6. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 112.

7. The War Trilogy of Roberto Rossellini , p. 374. All further references will be included in the text.

8. From the film: "EDMUND: Aren't you a teacher any more? ENNING: No. The authorities and I don't see eye-to-eye any more on—( he caresses the whole length of the boy's arm up to his neck, then under the chin )—educational policy" (p. 383).

9. Enzo Ungari's remarks are recorded in Dibattito su Rossellini , ed. Gianni Menon (Rome: Partisan, 1972), p. 31.

10. Quoted in R. M. DeAngelis, "Rossellini romanziere," 356.

11. The semiotician Colin MacCabe has also noted what he calls the film's "subversive subtext." In a provocative article entitled "Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses" ( Screen , 15, no. 2 [Summer 1974], 19-20), MacCabe articulates an analysis, based on Lacanian and Althusserian theories of subject positioning, of the "classic realist text," in which he equates the metalanguage of the nineteenth-century realist novel with the simple "narrative of events" found in the cinema. According to MacCabe, they are comparable because both envelop the subdiscourses found within them, explain and pass judgment on them, while pretending at the same time to be "objective," and, in fact, invisible. I think his comparison finally does not work because he too easily assumes that film's narrative of events and the "reality of the image" are always taken by an audience at face value, unproblematically, to be "the ways things are," rather than constructed. But of course the image or narrated event usually offers itself as authoritative, and in so disguising its status as discourse it pretends to naturalness rather than revealing itself as a specific articulation. In the films of Rossellini, however, especially Germany, Year Zero , MacCabe finds a continuing strategy of subversion of the dominant discourse, in fact, a "systematic refusal" of it. This is his analysis:

In Germany, Year Zero  . . . we can locate a multitude of ways in which the reading subject finds himself without a position from which the film can be regarded. Firstly, and most importantly, the fact that the narrative is not privileged in any way with regard to the characters' discourses. Rather than the narrative providing us with knowledge—it provides us with various settings. Just as in Brecht the "fable" serves simply as a procedure to produce the various gests , so in Rossellini the story simply provides a framework for various scenes which then constitute the picture of Germany in year zero. . . . Indeed the narrative of Germany, Year Zero can be seen as a device to introduce the final gest of Edmund's suicide—and in this it closely resembles the first reel of Brecht's own Kuhle Wampe (p. 20).

The problem here is that MacCabe is utterly neglecting the active part the very well-developed—and heavily melodramatic—narrative plot line plays from beginning to end in this film. If any film's dominant discourse can be identified with its narrative of events, then surely this one can be as well. Furthermore, MacCabe's privileging of Edmund's suicide over all other elements of the text is really little more than a sophisticated version of an error of twenty years' standing made by critics who have taken too literally Rossellini's remark that the only part of the film he was interested in was the finale. MacCabe continues:

Secondly, Rossellini's narrative introduces many elements which are not in any sense resolved and which deny the possibility of regarding the film as integrated through a dominant discourse. The Allied soldiers, the street kids, the landlord, the Teacher's house—all these provide elements which stretch outside the narrative of the film and deny its dominance (p. 20).

How are these elements "not resolved"? They are all features of Edmund's story that discharge their narrative function and then disappear, just as they would in any film. With the exception of the Allied soldiers, as I have mentioned above, these are characters and places that enable Edmund's preordained narrative to go forward, unconventionally, perhaps, but with no less speed and no more problematically than any other character or place in the film. MacCabe's final point is that "the characters themselves cannot be identified in any final way," and thus end up being only a complex sum of differences. Of course, it is possible to read all characters, in fiction or in film, as virtual sites of a play of differences (and contradictions) rather than as having fixed identities. The problem is that MacCabe makes the claim for this film as against the mass of others. He is, in fact, offering what amounts to too radical a reading of Rossellini's actually rather mild antinarrative strategies in this film. His view of Rossellini's technique , on the other hand, where he does find evidence of a standard "realist ideology," is more convincing, and even rather obvious:

If the reading subject is not offered any certain mode of entry into what is presented on the screen, he is offered a certain mode of entry to the screen itself. For the facts presented by the camera, if they are not ordered in fixed and final fashion among themselves, are ordered in themselves. The camera, in Rossellini's films, is not articulated as part of the productive process of the film. What it shows is in some sense beyond argument and it is here that Rossellini's films show the traditional realist weakness of being unable to deal with contradiction (p. 20).

12. The phenomenologist priest Amédée Ayfre praised the scene, claiming that it was here that Rossellini introduced "phenomenological description" to the cinema, and through specifically cinematic rather than philosophical means. What he means by this term is the attempt "to describe directly our experience such as it is, and without regard for the psychological genesis or causal explanation which the scientist, historian, or sociologist can furnish for it." For Ayfre, Rossellini's originality stems from the fact "that at no moment does the child give the impression of 'acting,' of being an actor. One can't say whether his acting was good or bad. . . . This child has simply lived, he has simply existed before us and the camera has surprised him in this existence" (pp. 7-8).

Ayfre, unlike Rossellini's Marxist critics, sees the problem as a matter of rescuing neorealism from analysis and simple naturalism. Thus Germany, Year Zero points to the solution because it shows "concrete human events in which is co-present the entire mystery of the Universe. In other words, the mystery of being is substituted for the clarity of construction" (Amédée Ayfre, "Phénoménologie et néo-réalisme," Cahiers du cinéma , no. 17 [November 1952], 10. See also Ayfre's book, Le Cinéma et sa vérité [Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1969], pp. 141 ff.)

13. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism," 73.

14. Oms, "Rossellini: Du fascisme à la démocratie chrétienne," 13.

15. Borde and Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 37.

16. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 112.

9— Una Voce Umana (1947–48)

1. Jean Cocteau, La Voix humaine (Paris: Librairie Stock, 1930), p. 11. Mario Verdone has suggested a possible origin for Cocteau's play in a piece Sacha Guitry did for the troops in 1915, an entire act of nothing but him and a telephone, called Faisons un rêve . (Mario Verdone, "L'amore," Bianco e nero , 9, no. 9 [November 1948], 76.)

2. Roberto Rossellini, "Dix ans de cinéma," part 1, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 50 (August-September 1955), 6-7.

3. Interestingly, Rossellini has omitted something from Cocteau's version that, in fact, would have turned us against the man even more (but that also would have made the woman appear more victimized). Presumably in the interests of streamlining and focusing the action, the director has removed the occasional comic moments when other callers on the party line break in to the lovers' conversation. Thus, at one point, Magnani's reply to a woman who has been listening in tells us that the woman has apparently castigated the man for his callousness. Magnani searches desperately to soothe his hurt feelings by saying, in lines obviously meant to drip with dramatic irony, that the other woman just does not know him and mistakenly thinks he is just like all other men.

10— The Miracle (1948)

1. There is some dispute concerning the ending of the film. In Fellini's original version, according to Angelo Solmi, "Nanni rings the bell of a little church to announce the event. These ignorant men understand and fall on their knees crying that it is a miracle" ( Federico Fellini , p. 82). Rossellini wisely avoided this ending, and in so doing made it consistent with the absence of a visible, verified miracle at the end of either Stromboli or Voyage to Italy . Guarner, however, says that "for the Paris presentation of L'Amore in 1956, Rossellini removed the end of the film in which bells rang out in greeting as the peasants welcomed the birth of the new saviour. The film now ends with the mother's first words to her child 'mio santo figlio'" ( Roberto Rossellini , p. 28). As far as I have been able to discover, however, the version shown in Britain and the United States has always had this latter ending.

2. The Italian critic Mario Verdone and various elements of the South American press later claimed that the story was plagiarized from a novel called Fior di Santita by the South American writer Ramon Maria del Valle-Inclan (1869-1936). The parallels are in fact remarkable, but Fellini continued to insist that it was his own invention. (See Verdone, "L'amore," 76-77).

3. Quentin Reynolds, Leave It to the People (New York: Random House, 1949), p. 149.

4. Ferrara, Il nuovo cinema italiano , p. 247.

5. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism," 72.

6. Borde and Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 106.

7. Quoted in Ferrara, p. 245ff.

8. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 4.

9. Quoted in Lillian Gerard, "Withdraw the Picture! the Commissioner Ordered," American Film (June 1977), 31. Gerard, who was managing director of the Paris at the time, is the source of much of the information in this chapter on the film's American reception.

10. Quoted in Gilbert Seldes, "Pressures on Pictures," Nation , 172, no. 5 (February 10, 1951), 133.

11. Quoted in Lillian Gerard, " 'The Miracle' in Court," American Film (July-August 1977), 27.

12. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 4-5.

13. Quoted in Gerard, " 'The Miracle,' " 26.

14. This motif is suggested in The Miracle , however, especially in Nanni's relationship with the ambivalent, perhaps "divine," goat at the end of the film (the cause and effect of whose minor "miracles" are always suggested cinematically rather than verified). It is the goat, in fact, that leads Nanni to her place of "natural" childbirth.

11— La Macchina Ammazzacattivi (1948–52)

1. Massimo Mida, Roberto Rossellini , p. 55.

2. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 38.

3. Mario Verdone suggests the story may have come from a Maupassant short story in which a printer sends to hell everyone he makes calling cards for (Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 40).

4. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism," 76.

5. Peter Bondanella, "Neorealist Aesthetics and the Fantastic: 'The Machine to Kill Bad People' and 'Miracle in Milan,' " Film Criticism , 3, no. 2 (Winter 1979), 26-27.

6. Ibid., p. 26.

7. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 1.

8. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 34.

9. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 85. The judgment of Borde and Bouissy is more violent and less convincing: "In 1948, the Fascists were showing themselves again. Everywhere people began preaching pardon, national reconciliation, and the cessation of all weeding out of former Fascists. Rossellini brought to the enterprise a contribution whose modesty is only due to his own awkwardness (118th at the box-office during 1951-52)" (Borde and Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 109).

12— Stromboli (1949)

1. Bergman, My Story , p. 1. All further references to this book will be included in the text proper. Any seemingly bizarre shifts of point of view in citations from this work are accounted for by the fact that it was written by the actress in conjunction with a professional writer, and it alternates from first to third person throughout.

2. Bergman relates a fascinating series of contretemps that nearly prevented the actress and the director from ever getting together. An Italian she met in America told her she could reach Rossellini by writing to Minerva Studios. Then, the studio headquarters burnt down just after her letter arrived; sifting through the ashes, they found the letter, but when the studio tried to contact Rossellini, he kept hanging up, since he was in a dispute with them at the time. When the letter finally managed to get to him, he had to have his secretary translate it from English—and then asked her who Ingrid Bergman was. Once apprised of her international fame, he quickly responded with an urgent telegram on May 8, his birthday, that it was "absolutely true that I dreamed to make a film with you," and that a long letter would follow, detailing his plans.

3. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , pp. 201, 203. One of the complications attending Rossellini's new interest in Bergman was the status of his current lover and star, Anna Magnani. Many are the stories of plates of spaghetti being thrown, of Rossellini cowering under hotel beds when Magnani found out. More important for cinema history is that Magnani sought her revenge by making her own version of Stromboli , called Vulcano , a rather undistinguished American film directed by William Dieterle on a neighboring island. It is a grandly overheated tale of love and deceit, with Magnani not in the romantic lead, interestingly enough, but rather playing the worldly-wise older woman who is trying to make her beautiful younger sister understand that the cad (Rossano Brazzi) will not marry her, as he says, but wants her for the white slave trade. She finally gets her way by seducing Brazzi, in the process permanently alienating her sister.

Though the specific details of the plot are thus quite a bit different, the harsh, denuded atmosphere of Vulcano and the hostile reception Magnani receives from the women when she returns to the island are embarrassingly close to the infinitely more subtle Stromboli , at least in spirit. In addition, Dieterle seems to share Rossellini's interest in documenting the daily lives of his characters at work. The film also includes another Rossellini favorite—the religious procession—as well as an ascent to the volcano and its eruption. Probably the most outrageous similarity is the tuna-fishing sequence, the idea for which seems to have been taken directly from Rossellini's film. Some footage is almost identical in the two versions, but in Dieterle's there is no attempt to relate the sequence thematically to the rest of the film. Brazzi says that after the filming session each evening, Magnani would go out to the end of the island and shout curses in the direction of Stromboli. Unfortunately, Magnani was not to get her wish of upstaging "la Bergman," because critics were hostile, finally, to both pictures. The ultimate irony is recounted by Jone Tuzzi, who had been spying for Rossellini on Dieterle's set: "At the premier of Vulcano , which came out before Stromboli , Magnani was expecting that everybody would be talking about her. Instead, the next morning the papers were filled with enormous headlines announcing that Bergman had given birth. So they even ruined her premier!" (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 204).

4. "A Panorama of History," 99.

5. Dore Schary, Heyday (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), p. 271.

6. Robin Wood, "Rossellini," Film Comment , 10, no. 4 (July-August 1974), 11.

7. BFI Dossier Number 8: Roberto Rossellini , p. 13.

8. Borde and Bouissy, pp. 109-10. The moral truculence of this view is matched by the naïveté of its quaint opposite, expressed by Giuseppe Ferrara, that "the way traveled by Bergman obviously signifies the lacerations of the Catholic woman in the modern world" ("L'Opera di Roberto Rossellini," in Rossellini, Antonioni, Buñuel [Padua, Venice: Marsilio, 1973], p. 40).

9. Jean-Claude Bonnet, "Roberto Rossellini ou le parti pris des choses," Cinématographe , no. 42 (January 1979), 22. Rossellini himself has said of the tuna sequence, "I tried to reproduce that eternal waiting under the sun, and the horribly tragic moment in which man kills: death which arrives unexpectedly after an extraordinary wait, abandoned, urgent, I would say almost loving , under the sun's rays." (Quoted in Claude Mauriac, L'Amour du cinéma [Paris: Albin Michel, 1954], p. 128; my emphasis.)

10. All quotations are taken from tape recordings of the two versions' sound tracks.

11. Adriano Aprà and Maurizio Ponzi, "An Interview With Roberto Rossellini," Screen , 14, no. 4 (Winter 1973-74), 114. (Interview originally appeared in Italian in 1965.)

12. In Cinema 59 , no. 36 (May 1959), 50. (Note the suggestion of sadism in the desire to make Karin cry.) Bergman has given yet another reading of the ending, a reading that may have been influenced by her own circumstances. She told Robin Wood that the film "ended only with this woman looking at the sky; there was no end, which the public objected to. Of course, she would realize that there was a duty that she had to go back and have the child and live with her husband; but at the same time you don't know it, you have to guess it" ("Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," Film Comment , 10, no. 4 [July-August 1974], 13). Complicating matters further is a lightweight piece of publicity fluff that appeared before the filming actually began. At this time the film was known as "Dopo l'uragano" (After the Hurricane), and the article gives a plot summary, the ending of which I include for its curiosity value: Karin tries to escape with the lighthouse keeper (in this version a fisherman), but a storm drives the boat back to land, where the husband catches up with them. A chase scene up the volcano follows between Antonio and Karin; Karin gets near the crater and starts a rock slide to kill her husband, but he escapes. At this point, Karin, exhausted, collapses into tears and an invocation to God. "Finally, pacified, she returns to the village and, made humble, goes back to her home." ("Ingrid come Karin," Cinema [Rome], no. 11 [March 31, 1949], 335).

13. Wood, "Rossellini," 10.

14. Andrew Sarris, "Beyond the Fringe," Film Culture (Spring 1969), 30.

15. Bruno Torri, Cinema italiano: Dalla realtà alle metafore (Palermo: Palumbo, 1973), p. 45.

16. "Je ne suis pas le père du néo-réalisme," interview with Henri Hall, Arts (June 16, 1954).

13— Francesco, Giullare di Dio (1950)

1. While the Italian version of the film is in many ways different from the version released in the United States, the mood and themes have generally not been as disturbed in the translation process as they were in Stromboli . In the European version of Francesco , there are no frescoes to set the historical scene; rather, it opens directly with the famous long shot on the road of the monks being drenched by rain. A voice-over explains that they have been granted approval by the Pope to form a new order. In this version, the initial scene is also much longer than in the American version; abstruse medieval debates about the best way to preach and Rossellini's increasingly characteristic accent on temps mort give the Italian version a greater feeling of "authenticity," but since the entire film is so deeply marked by the aleatory and the fragmentary, unlike Stromboli , the American version has not been unduly harmed by the "streamlining."

The most important changes are the two scenes omitted from the American version. In the first, Francis is lying on the ground, crying. He hears bells, looks up, and encounters a leper who tries to avoid him. Francis forces himself on the leper, finally kissing him on both cheeks. The leper moves away, and Francis falls to the ground again, crying. No words are spoken throughout the entire scene. The other scene missing in the American version concerns Francis' search for letizia , or "perfect joy." Walking along, he complains to his companion that he can perform miracles, but he has not yet achieved perfect joy. They arrive at a well-appointed house and begin badgering its owner to "serve the Lord"; when they refuse to give up, he throws them down the stairs and violently beats them. Francis then tells his companion that he has now found perfect joy. Clearly, this complex scene, delicately poised between the comic and the spiritual, must have been omitted as being too offbeat.

In addition to these two major omissions, sequences presumably considered "unmotivated" or too grossly physical were omitted from other scenes that, in the main, have been preserved. Thus, in the final scene, the monks' visit to a small church has been cut, and in the long scene in the tryrant's camp, a sequence of a man trying to fill an entire cup with blood from his nose has been removed, as well as a sequence of Brother Juniper being dragged along the ground by a horse.

2. Also like Stromboli, Francesco opens with an epigraph. In this case, it is taken from Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians (1:27-28): "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are." In this film the struggle toward God, which seems to erupt so suddenly at the end of Stromboli , has already been achieved, or, better, is continually in the process of being achieved.

3. Rossellini's manner of speaking about the monastery sheds light, I think, on his intentions in both films:

I was very moved by their innocence. It was magnificent. A very wise old monk, Fra Rafael, who was a servant, not a real priest, said he was a poet. I asked him what kind of poetry he was doing. He said, 'I wrote a poem about a rose.' I asked him to tell it to me. He closed his eyes and lifted his face toward the sky and said 'Oh, Rose!' and that was the whole poem. How can you have a better poem than that? It was also a sign of tremendous humility. I became very close friends with a number of the Franciscans and I thought of making a film about Saint Francis.

(Victoria Schultz, "Interview with Roberto Rossellini, February 22-25, 1971 in Houston, Texas," Film Culture , no. 52 [Spring 1971], 12-13.)

4. Brunello Rondi, "Per un riesame del Francesco di Rossellini," Rivista del cinema italiano , 4, no. 1 (January-March 1955), 89.

5. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , p. 73.

6. Jose Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 48; Giorgio Tinazzi, "Per un riesame di Rossellini," in Mario Verdone and Giorgio Tinazzi, Roberto Rossellini (Padua: Centro cinematografico degli studenti dell'università di Padova, 1960), p. 34.

7. The shift from coralità to an active questioning of the group, which we saw in operation in these two earlier films, continues in Francesco . Critics who welcomed it as a return to coralità forget that this quality is seen only in terms of the values of the tiny group of equally "crazy" people. In the terms of the larger social group, which is here barely seen, these religious figures are as marginal as Karin, Nanni, or Irene in Europa '51 .

8. It can be argued, of course, that Rossellini always shows those who are striving, incomplete, imperfect creatures to be women, and the ones who have already attained peace, rest, and happiness to be men (the Franciscans). This depiction, however, seems to have been the result of a return to the historical beginnings of the search for joy and simplicity, rather than an argument for the spiritual superiority of men over women. Furthermore, the scene in which Saint Clair and a few nuns visit the friars clearly indicates that the women have reached the same spiritual level as the men.

This distinction is important in light of the extensive attack on Rossellini, on ostensibly feminist grounds, by the editors of the British Film Institute dossier on the director. They rely on the scurrilous article by Marcel Oms, "Rossellini: Du fascisme à la démocratie chrétienne," for their "ammunition." Thus, they quote approvingly from the essay:

Rossellini's misogyny had two possible conclusions: the first one was to destroy the woman, that is to say, to make a film of Honegger's and (above all) Claudel's oratorio Joan of Arc at the Stake . The second way of despising woman was to ignore them. What could have been more logical in Rossellini's oeuvre than the filming of that monument to stupidity which is Francis, God's Jester . Never before have Christianity and cretinism been so close to one another. . . . To the film's credit is its testimonial value. Because of its realism, Francis remains an objective and irrefutable document about those who are in need of wits. Also there remain a few images of masochism when Francis gets himself trampled on by his brothers or when Ginepro faces the tyrant. . . . Unfortunately, it is not by humiliating oneself in front of them that one brings down tyrants (ellipses in BFI citation, p. 14; Oms, pp. 15-16).

It is bad enough that as late as 1981 the editors choose to rely so heavily on Om's article, which they call "violent but fair." The more egregious choice is to elide in their citation from the article the few sentences in which Oms displays that he is perhaps talking about his own problems more than about the film. This is the part in which he fantasizes about how much better the film would have been if Saint Francis and Saint Clair "discovering passion, would have shut themselves up in the little hut or would have made love in front of the brothers. . . . Then Francis would have sung the praises of the flesh, and given up preaching in order to live. . . . But I'm dreaming, because the film is far from having this grandeur" (p. 15). Clearly, Oms is not the best source for a critical judgment concerning this film.

9. "Un cinema diverso per un mondo che cambia," interview in Bianco e nero , 25, no. 1 (January 1964), 14.

10. Henri Agel, Poétique du cinéma , p. 83.

11. Henri Agel, Le Cinéma et le sacré (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1961), pp. 76-77.

12. Brunello Rondi, Filmcritica , nos. 147-48 (July-August, 1974). Quoted in Lo splendore del vero: Quarant'anni di cinema di Roberto Rossellini , ed. Giuliana Callegari and Nuccio Lodato, p. 73.

13. Tinazzi, "Per un riesame di Rossellini," p. 34.

14. Pio Baldelli, "Dibattito per 'Francesco' di Rossellini," Rivista del cinema italiano , 3, nos. 11-12 (November-December 1954), 60.

15. The forever "otherness" of God does not challenge the tenets of the metaphysics of presence, as one might expect, but in fact enables it. As Jacques Derrida has said,

The infinite alterity of the divine substance does not interpose itself as an element of mediation or opacity in the transparence of self-relationship and the purity of auto-affection. God is the name and the element of that which makes possible an absolutely pure and absolutely self-present self-knowledge. From Descartes to Hegel and in spite of all the differences that separate the different places and moments in the structure of that epoch, God's infinite understanding is the other name for the logos as self-presence ( Of Grammatology , p. 98).

Francesco 's need for the discontinuous, marked clouds to represent a continuous, unmarked heaven recalls Shelley's poem "The Cloud" (1820), which ends with the following lines, told from the cloud's point of view:

For after the rain, when with never a stain,
        The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
        Build up the blue dome of Air—
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
       And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
        I arise, and unbuild it again.—

14— Europa '51 (1952)

1. "Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," p. 13.

2. Claude Mauriac has quoted a long passage from Weil, a passage whose source he does not identify, in his discussion of Europa '51 . Its emotional texture is so close to that of the scene in the film that it seems useful to translate it here:

My body and soul were in shreds. This contact with unhappiness had killed my youth. . . . I knew that there was a lot of unhappiness in the world, I was even obsessed by it; but I had never experienced it in such a prolonged way. Coming out of the factory, confused in everyone's eyes, including my own, with the anonymous masses, the unhappiness of the others went right into my flesh and into my soul. Nothing separated me from it, for I had actually forgotten my past and looked forward to no future, and I found it difficult to imagine the possibility of surviving these trials. What I had lived through had marked me in such a profound way that even today, when any human being, whoever he is, in whatever circumstances, speaks to me without brutality, I can't avoid the impression that there must be some mistake and that the mistake will soon disappear. In that place I received forever the mark of slavery, like the mark from the red-hot iron the Romans put on their most despised slave. Ever since, I have always thought of myself as a slave ( L'Amour du cinéma , p. 115).

One further source that Rossellini has mentioned in one or two obscure interviews, without elaborating on it, is an early book of Herbert Marcuse's, presumably Reason and Revolution (1941). Rossellini said that while the film, of course, was not based on the book, it nevertheless made him think about things "differently."

3. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 51.

4. Maurizio Ponzi, "Due o tre cose su Roberto Rossellini," Cinema e film , 1, no. 2 (Spring 1967), 25.

5. "A Discussion of Neo-Realism," 76.

6. Two years after the interview with Mario Verdone quoted above, Rossellini was telling François Truffaut and Eric Rohmer the story of the scientist friend who was forced to rule on whether to send a woman to an insane asylum. The scientist told Rossellini that he had to "dissociate the human being from the scientist even in myself; science has its limits, it must calculate, see, measure, regulate itself according to that which it has conquered, that which it knows. You must completely forget everything that's beyond these limits." Rossellini's reponse to his story was, "In a century which is dominated by science—and we know that it's imperfect and has such atrocious limits—I don't know to what point it's right to trust in it. That's what the film's about" (Interview, Cahiers du cinéma [1954], 8). In the years to come, he will exactly reverse this early position.

7. The film also shares in the dynamic we have seen at work in the earlier films, where an artifact (such as a fresco) or the words themselves provide an ontological bridge between the present and the past because they are of the past (not merely a representation of it) and yet in the present as well. Here, in a complex way, we can think of this very film as being an equivalent artifact that, like all films, exists in both the past and the present and thus mediates between them.

8. Other objects also function as blatant visual symbols: the contrite mother's tears at the hospital clash with the luxuriance of her mink coat; later the same contrast is enacted in the family's Cadillac, particularly ostentatious and out of place in the crowded streets of Rome's teeming poor.

9. The scene in which Irene is told of the boy's death is very powerful. When she is nearly prostrate, the camera catches her face against a starkly white pillow, a composition that resonates for mysterious reasons. Her husband says that "life goes on," refusing by that remark to take any blame for what has happened. (Earlier, the "competent" father says, "I've solved many problems," but confesses that the unhappiness of his son is one that he has not been able to "solve.")

10. This scene in the car is iconographically important, for it marks the beginning of an extensive use of this visual and spatial motif that becomes central in Voyage to Italy and in Fear , functioning far beyond its obvious utility as visual and narrative punctuation between other spatial locations.

11. This additional method of calling the "naturalness" of the cinematic representation into question through the interjection of the "real" into the "realistic" can also be considered in the light of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Just as Holbein's anamorphic death's head in his painting The Ambassadors calls into question the wholeness of vision by making it dependent on a particular point of view, so, too, throughout his career Rossellini allows shots of nonprofessional actors looking directly into the camera to stand, even though they blatantly challenge the film's illusionism.

12. Eric Rohmer, "Europa '51," Cahiers du cinéma , no. 25 (July 1953), 45.

13. "We are prisoners . . . of our desire to be in harmony with everything and everyone. Worshippers of the rule, we live in terror of one day becoming the exception." Because Irene becomes a nonconformist, says Rossellini, she is considered mad. "She doesn't recognize the fiction of honesty, like all the others? Then she's crazy! She doesn't accept the hypocrisy of charity beneficial to oneself, as the others accept it? Then she's crazy! . . . Crazy, everyone outside of political parties! Crazy, everyone outside of churches! Crazy, everyone outside the bounds of conformity!" ( Rassegna del film [February 1, 1952], quoted in Borde and Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 110).

14. Guido Aristarco, "Europa '51," Cinema nuovo , 1, no. 1 (December 15, 1952). Reprinted in Antologia di Cinema Nuovo 1952-58 , p. 685.

15. Gianni Aiello, Il cinema italiano negli ultimi vent'anni (Cremona: Gianni Mangiarotti Editori, 1964), p. 32.

16. Rondolino, Rossellini , p. 81. André Bazin, in a little-known 1953 review of the film, defends it against the charge of reactionary politics and then, as might be expected, moves toward a phenomenological and spiritual reading of the film. In the process, he attempts to incorporate what I have been calling Rossellini's expressionism or stylization into a larger conception of "realism." His remarks are worth quoting in full:

Rossellini doesn't have his actors act , he doesn't make them express this or that feeling; he only makes them be a certain way in front of the camera. In such a miseen-scène, the placement of the characters, the way they walk, their movements and gestures are much more important than the feelings shown on their faces, and even more important than what they say. . . .

That such a mise-en-scène requires a highly evolved stylization is obvious in Europa '51 . This realism is completely the opposite of what is "taken on the spot": a strict and austere language, stripped sometimes to the point of asceticism. At this point, neorealism discovers classic abstraction and its generality. Whence this apparent paradox: the correct version of the film is not the one dubbed into Italian, but the English version, which has the maximum number of original voices. At the limit of this realism the exactitude of exterior social reality becomes unimportant. Roman street children can speak English without our thinking that it's unconvincing. Reality, by the tricks of style, renews itself through the conventions of art.

(André Bazin et al., Cinéma 53 à travers le monde [Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1954], pp. 88-89).

17. Ponzi, "Due o tre cose," p. 25.

18. Dibattito su Rossellini , ed. Menon, p. 87.

15— Dov'è la Libertà? (1952–54)

1. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , p. 72.

2. Pierre Kast, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 56 (February 1956). Quoted in Patrice Hovald, Le Néo-réalisme italien et ses créateurs (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1959), p. 117.

3. "A Panorama of History," 99. It is difficult to know just how much to credit Rossellini's statement concerning the film's producers. As we have seen, he often claimed that his films had been changed against his will, yet he rarely bothered to go into detail concerning the changes.

4. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 6.

5. Franca Faldini and Goffredo Fofi, Totò: L'uomo e la maschera (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1977), p. 110.

16— Voyage to Italy (1953)

1. Interview with J. Douchet, Arts , no. 739 (September 9, 1959), 6.

2. Pierre Leprohon, The Italian Cinema (New York: Praeger, 1972), pp. 132-33. His play on the French word interprète , which means both "interpreter" and "actor," is lost in the translation.

3. Wood, "Rossellini," 10.

4. Bergman, My Story , p. 307.

5. Ibid.

6. Riccardo Redi, "Buono o cattivo il vino nuovo?" in Cinema , no. 124 (1953), quoted in Adriano Aprà and G. P. Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione su Rossellini," Bianco e nero , 25, no. 1 (January 1964), 34. The interested reader should also see Sanders' autobiography, Memoirs of a Professional Cad (New York: Putnam, 1960), for further negative impressions of the filming. Concerning the Bergman-Rossellini collaboration, Sanders' final analysis was, "Far from being devoured, Ingrid was eventually to emerge triumphant, and Roberto was destined to bite the dust of obscurity, having improvidently exhausted his marvelous talent for raising money." (Sanders, p. 125.)

7. Quoted in Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Rossellini," pp. 120-21.

8. "Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," 12.

9. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview with Rossellini," 121.

10. G. C. Castello, Cinema , nos. 146-47 (December 1954), 738. On the other hand, an exceptionally fine contemporary analysis of the film, written by the French critic Phillipe Collin, can be found in Télé-Ciné , no. 50 (July-August 1955), 2-10.

11. Filmcritica , nos. 156-57 (April-May 1965). Five also mentioned Paisan .

12. Eric Rohmer, "Voyage en Italie," Cahiers du cinéma , no. 47 (May 1955), 40.

13. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 57.

14. Pierre Marcabru, "Les Derniers Feux du néo-réalisme," Arts (June 21, 1961), 13.

15. Leprohon, The Italian Cinema , pp. 138-39.

16. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 222-23.

17. Bazin, What Is Cinema? , vol. 2, p. 98. Bergman also told Robin Wood in her interview with him ("Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," 14):

In Voyage to Italy , it was also to show Pompeii. He adored Pompeii. He knew everything about it. He was only looking for a story into which he could put Pompeii and the museums and Naples and all that Naples stands for, which he always was fascinated with, because the people in Naples are different from the people in Rome and Milan. He wanted to show all those grottoes with the relics and the bones and the museums and the laziness of all the statues.

18. Leo Braudy, "Rossellini: From 'Open City' to 'General della Rovere,'" in Great Film Directors: A Critical Anthology , ed. Leo Braudy and Morris Dickstein (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 668.

19. It is perhaps not overreading to find the play of the lights more than visual choreography. They can also be seen as parallel to the sun, with its multiple opportunities for rapprochement, as we shall see (especially through its connection to the idea of "Italy"); when the lights are on, there is a chance the couple will begin to communicate, but for fear of exposing herself, Katherine each time extinguishes the light and plunges herself and their relationship back into the darkness.

20. This minor, if problematic, point of conscious intertextuality should be mentioned here—that is, the clear references that the film makes to Joyce's brilliant concluding story of Dubliners . The film's characters' last name is Joyce, of course, and the mention in the film of a romantic, rather tubercular, poet who courted Katherine just before she married Alex parallels Joyce's story. Even a few of Katherine's lines seem to have been lifted from "The Dead." Nevertheless, Rossellini has done little to develop these links.

Luciana Bohne has usefully explored this connection in "Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia: A Variation on a Theme By Joyce," Film Criticism , 3, no. 2 (Winter 1979), 43-52. Her reading of the film is refreshingly unconventional, especially in the way she interprets the final sequence, but her articulation of the film's themes with those of the story is vitiated by a univocal reading of Joyce's immensely ambiguous short story.

21. Lines quoted from the film are taken directly from the English sound track and from a transcription of the sound track of the Italian version published in Filmcritica , nos. 156-57 (April-May 1965). At times, the dialogue differs markedly in the two versions.

22. Michael Shedlin, "Love, Estrangement, and Coadunation in Rossellini's Voyage to Italy," Women and Film , no. 2 (1972), 46.

23. Here the volcano seems to operate on two levels, suggesting both the male principle, as in Stromboli , and the "femaleness" of its crater, negated in the earlier film by the crater's violent, threatening activity.

24. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview with Roberto Rossellini," 113.

25. Jean Renoir quotes this shot, transposed to a comic vein, in the opening minutes of Eléna et les hommes (1956), the first film Bergman made with another director after the beginning of her collaboration with Rossellini.

26. Ibid., p. 112.

27. In more practical terms, Truffaut and his friends were helpful as well. The French distributor, who was also one of the coproducers, had, according to Rossellini, "completely changed" the film, including the title (to "The Divorcée of Naples"), and even the story line itself. Truffaut mounted a critical boycott of this version of the film, forcing the distributor to rerelease the original version of the film, with subtitles. It was from this contretemps that the friendship with the men who were to become the New Wave began. This relationship is immensely complicated, of course, and cannot be done justice in a note. Rossellini did coauthor the script of Godard's Les Carabiniers in the early sixties, but admitted that he had never seen the film. He also once mentioned a moment in 1956 when he approached a French producer with the script of Truffaut's The 400 Blows , Chabrol's first script, and "many ideas" of Godard's, requesting 200,000 francs and offering his own services as producer, but the project fell through. According to Rossellini, his own influence on the aesthetic side of the New Wave was slight:

We're good friends, we see each other frequently, I sometimes act as their father, their mother, their nurse, in other words, when they have problems, even personal ones, they come to me: but we've never really discussed aesthetic problems. I think what they saw in my films was disdain for the traditional forms of cinema. I remember that there was a time when all the critics were accusing my films of being badly made, or accusing me of inattention or even distraction. Well this criticism, which continue

came from critics who were very tied up with the traditional forms, really riled these boys. So I think that their enthusiasm was not so much due to the artistic material as to the manner in which things were expressed and also to the mental attitude of liberty, the true and total freedom which means that you can't be tied to anything. ("Un cinema diverso per un mondo che cambia," 9.)

28. Quoted in Patrice Hovald, Roberto Rossellini (Brussels: Club du Livre du Cinéma, 1958), no page; no citation given.

29. Jacques Rivette, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 46 (April 1955), 19.

30. Patrice Hovald, Le Néo-réalisme italien et ses créateurs , p. 121. In his Cahiers du cinéma review, Eric Rohmer proclaimed more overtly the religious tendencies of this approach: for him, it is quite proper that the film ends with a miracle because "that's in the order of things, and this order, ultimately, is ascribable to miracle." There is no need to worry about the fallen condition of sacred art, either: "So what if the cinema takes over from the cathedrals!" (Quoted in Hovald, p. 121).

31. Rondolino, Rossellini , p. 84. For a more detailed formal analysis than the one presented in this chapter, the interested reader should see two exceptionally rigorous semiotic analyses of the film, based on the earliest work of Christian Metz. Both were published in Cinema e film , 1, no. 2 (Spring 1967). The first is by Gianfranco Albano, Paquito Del Bosco, and Luigi Faccini, "Materiali per un analisi in svolgimento su Rossellini." The second is by Adriano Aprà and Luigi Martelli, "Premesse sintagmatiche ad un'analisi di 'Viaggio in Italia.'"

17— Three Sketches: "L'Invidia," "Ingrid Bergman," and "Napoli '43" (1951–54)

1. Jean-José Richer, review of Les Sept Péchés capitaux, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 13 (June 1952), 67. The other episodes of this largely French film, and their directors, are: Yves Allégret, "La Luxure" (Lust); Claude Autant-Lara, "L'Orgueil" (Pride); Carlo Rim, "La Gourmandise" (Gluttony); Eduardo de Filippo (a noted comedy writer, only recently deceased, who had done the screenplay for Rossellini's La macchina ammazzacattivi ), "L'Avarice" (Greed) and "La Colère" (Anger); Jean Dreville, "La Paresse" (Sloth); and Georges Lacombe, who did the connecting sketch.

2. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , p. 77.

3. Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 47-48. Verdone also mentions that the sketch was shot in the Via Margutta, the painters' quarter of Rome, and that it used real art critics, dealers, and painters (including the male lead) to construct a "real-life tableau."

4. Jean-Luc Godard, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 92 (February 1959); quoted in Callegari and Lodato, Lo splendore del vero , p. 80.

5. Hovald, Roberto Rossellini , no page.

6. Rassegna del film , 3, no. 20 (January-May 1954). Another contemporary account of this film is by the cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli, who tells us of the incredible expense he had to go to to light the bomb shelter. Luckily, the producer Infascelli was "a crazy man who didn't worry about expenses." (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 268).

7. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 67.

8. Borde and Bouissy, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 90.

9. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , p. 79.

10. John Minchinton review of Siamo donne, Films and Filming , 1, no. 3 (December 1954), 18.

11. "Ingrid Bergman on Rossellini," 14.

12. "A Panorama of History," 99.

18— Giovanna d'Arco al Rogo (1954)

1. Bergman, My Story , p. 310.

2. Quoted in Patrice Hovald, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 122.

3. "Je ne suis pas le père du néo-réalisme," 3.

4. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1954), 12. Twenty years later he was to tell interviewers that Giovanna was an experiment, and that he was mostly interested in the "technical side" of the film ("A Panorama of History," 100).

5. Quoted in Hovald, Le Néo-réalisme italien , p. 123.

6. "Joan at the Stake," Theatre Arts , 39 (May 1955), 31. In the same article, the magazine, presumably guessing, also said that when Rossellini came to film the oratorio, he changed everything except cast and costumes, just for a challenge.

7. Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 34.

8. Alessandro Ferraù, review in Bollettino dello spettacolo (February 1955), quoted in Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 35.

9. Patrice Hovald, Roberto Rossellini , no page.

10. Rondolino, Rossellini , pp. 85-86. Rossellini has, in fact, explained at great length the chemical and optical intricacies of the mirror technique he used to film Giovanna , a technique which became standard practice in both dramatic films like Anima nera and didactic films like La Prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV . (See the interview portion of Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 202-3.)

11. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 68-69.

12. Guarner mentions two other features of the film worth repeating: first, that Joan is here imagined as intensely human: "she is celebrated as a woman—you can even see her breasts through the tunic," as opposed to the sword-fighting youngster of Victor Fleming's earlier version with Bergman. The second point is an elaboration of Rondolino's concerning the film's circularity. Though he has spoken of it as a representation of God's point of view, as we saw, he also convincingly describes it as a literalization of the earthly prison that surrounds Joan, which she desperately tries to escape:

The idea of the circle recurs at all levels in the film, in a) the dramatic construction, which ends where it began, b) the visuals, with all their circular forms, c) space, constantly closed in on itself, like a cyclorama which includes the whole set, and d) finally, the camera-movements characterised by pans and circular tracking shots which sooner or later are completed to close the circle. Giovanna d'Arco al rogo , though seeming static, is in fact an enormous slow gyration, gradually travelling round to reveal its start (Guarner, pp. 69-70).

13. Michel Estève, "Les Séductions de l'oratorio filmé ou le merveilleux contre le surnaturel," Études cinématographiques , nos. 18-19 (Fall 1962), pp. 65-71.

14. Claude Beylie, "Défense de Jeanne au bûcher ou la sérénité des abîmes," Études cinématographiques , nos. 18-19 (Fall 1962), pp. 72-78.

19— Fear (1954–55)

1. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , pp. 338-39. All ellipses except first are in the original.

2. Bergman, My Story , p. 326.

3. Quoted in Bergman, My Story , p. 327.

4. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 73. The point about their marital collapse is, of course, somewhat overstated, as their marriage did not end for some years, an end that did not seem irrevocable until Rossellini fell in love with another woman during the filming of India .

5. As Rossellini told an interviewer: "It's the instincts which interest me. If that's what the critics call neorealism, I agree. And, in all my films, I have always tried to get closer to the instincts." (Quoted in Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 95.)

6. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 73.

7. Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 35.

8. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 242.

9. Quoted in Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 95.

10. BFI Dossier Number 8 , p. 18.

20— India (1958)

1. Interview, Film Culture , 24-25.

2. Cited in Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 35.

3. Interview, Film Culture , 25.

4. Jean Herman, "Rossellini tourne India 57," Cahiers du cinéma , no. 73 (July 1957), 3. Ironically, many of the social problems mentioned by Herman, such as the nearly impenetrable Indian bureaucracy, are never taken up by Rossellini in the film.

5. New York Sunday News , May 26, 1957, p. 86.

6. See also Jean Herman, "Rossellini: L'Anti-digest défakirisateur," in Cinéma 57 , no. 21 (September-October 1957), 44-49. Mario Verdone, on the other hand, faults Rossellini for not really opening himself up to the country, and Ferdinand Hoveyda, a former editor of Cahiers du cinéma , even claims: "Leaving for India, Rossellini had taken the precaution of putting in his suitcase a scenario which he had written while still in Paris. But I don't think that this was a violation of his principles." He then goes on to specify the preparations that Rossellini had been going through since 1955: reading English-language Indian newspapers, novels, letters, books about religion and philosophy. When he finally got to India, according to Hoveyda, he shot over forty thousand feet of color footage. ("La Photo du mois," Cahiers du cinéma , no. 69 [March 1957], 35; cited in Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 36). Herman paints a daunting portrait of the hazardous conditions the company endured to make this film: ants everywhere, often no phones or electricity, cobras, pythons, wild elephants (one almost killed Aldo Tonti, Rossellini's cameraman), heat reaching 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and eternal mechanical problems with the equipment. At one point Rossellini found out that one of his close friends had been killed during an automobile race. Exhausted by driving the enormous distances between locations and upset about his friend's death, Rossellini told Herman: "It's just like the whales when they're in a big group and they throw themselves against the shore of an island and kill themselves. What pushes them to do it? I feel this whale so strongly in myself" (p. 8).

7. New York Times , February 10, 1957, II, 5.

8. Interview, Cinéma 59 , 51-52.

9. Herman, "Rossellini tourne India 57," 8-9.

10. Translated in Screen , 14, no. 4 (Winter 1973-74), 119-20.

11. Cited in Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 35.

12. Reprinted in Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc Godard (Paris: Pierre Belfond, 1968), pp. 238-39.

13. New York Times , February 10, 1957.

14. There is very little information available on the footage made specifically for television, though it is known that it was shot first on sixteen-millimeter film, while the footage for theatrical release was shot on thirty-five-millimeter stock later (with the sequence of the tiger and the old man blown up from sixteen-millimeter to thirty-five-millimeter). From all appearances, the final product assembled for television was very sloppily constructed and the episodes rarely hung together. The version shown on Italian television was somewhat different from that shown on the French (see Aprà's filmography in Le Cinéma révélé for titles of all the episodes, for both countries) and was rather poorly greeted due to an unsympathetic journalist who acted as "anchorman," and who very clearly had no idea what he was talking about. Renzo, the director's son, told me that the format consisted of this journalist and Rossellini commenting extempore on what was being projected at the moment. The journalist was apparently a terrible embarrassment who affected astonishment at everything Rossellini said about the country: "You mean they really have steel pipe there? Come on, you're kidding," and so on.

15. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 145 (July 1963), 4-5. Later, he rhetorically asks his interviewers, "Do you seriously believe that there can be art without the intervention of personality?" And then, in a surprising outburst, showed how emotionally charged the entire issue was for him:

I went to a showing and said to myself: Well, this is cinéma-vérité. There was a camera on the floor [identified in a footnote as belonging to the Maysles brothers], and everyone was worshipping it, even though it was just a camera. A camera is a camera. It's just an object. That doesn't excite me, and it drives me crazy that a camera can excite someone. It's unbelievably stupid! This camera, which was exciting the minds and genitals of the people present, was something which left me absolutely indifferent. If I can't get excited by a camera, I can't understand the people who can. There are also pederasts in the world, but because I'm not a pederast, I can't understand them. You don't have any idea how ridiculous that evening was (p. 6).

He recognizes clearly, however, that Rouch's position is simply the logical extension of his own refusal of preordained scripts and professional actors: "I was saying the same things, yes, but I was saying them without totally destroying everything" (p. 7).

16. Torri, Cinema italiano , pp. 62-63.

17. Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc Godard , p. 238.

18. Herman, "Rossellini tourne India 57," 9.

19. Originally appeared in Cahiers du cinéma , no. 96 (June 1959); reprinted in Jean-Luc Godard par Jean-Luc Godard . It has also been reported to me by Daniel Toscan du Plantier, the former head of Gaumont and a close friend of Rossellini during the last two years of his life, that when the director heard that Godard had said that India was more real than life itself, Rossellini told him he was crazy.

20. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 8-9. Unfortunately, Rossellini was not to enjoy his critical triumph in tranquility. Before he went to India, it was clear that his marriage with Bergman was not going very well, given the various professional and personal strains it had to endure. While abroad, Rossellini became romantically involved with his chief assistant, Sonali Das Gupta, who became pregnant. Like Bergman eight years earlier, this woman was already married, and the husband, a well-known Indian producer and director, understandably put up a fuss. Rossellini was threatened with expulsion from the country at various points, and the seamy details of the love triangle were played out in the world's tabloids for all to savor. Once back in Europe, after an embarrassing series of denials, the marriage of Rossellini and Bergman was annulled, freeing Rossellini to marry Das Gupta, who had by that time managed to escape from India to a private hide-away in Europe.

21. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 148.

22. Andrew Sarris, "Rossellini Rediscovered," 61.

23. Interview with Fereydoun Hoveyda and Jacques Rivette, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 94 (April 1959), 11.

21— General della Rovere (1959)

1. Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 398.

2. Amidei complained in the interview cited above that, after the screenplay had been completed, Montanelli used it as the basis of a novel published solely under his own name, with no credit given to his fellow screenwriters (Faldini and Fofi, L'avventurosa storia , p. 398).

3. Quoted in Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 106-7.

4. "Un cinema diverso per un mondo che cambia," 19.

5. "A Panorama of History," 93.

6. Interview in Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 231-32.

7. Interview with J. Douchet, Arts , 6.

8. Mida, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 90-91.

9. This is essentially the way in which Stanley Kaufmann's appreciative article ("Take Two: General della Rovere," American Film , 4, no. 6 [April 1979], 54-56) reads it. He tells us how much he likes the film, how it gets better on every viewing, because it is "one of that elite group, the necessary films" (p. 56).

10. New York Herald Tribune , November 20, 1960, 11.

11. Variety , January 11, 1961, 7.

12. "Un cinema diverso per un mondo che cambia," 9. Renzo Rossellini, the director's son, has said that finishing the film in time for Venice was producer Morris Ergas' idea. To accomplish it, they shot film during the day, and edited and dubbed at night.

13. It is during this bombing scene that Rossellini uses his newly invented Pancinor zoom for the first time, zooming in and out rather awkwardly on the prison windows three times. It is used once more, after Bertone has been beaten by the Nazis. The use of the zoom was to have a profound effect on Rossellini's mise-en-scène and sense of created space, as well as on his shooting methods and postproduction work. However, since it is employed only a handful of times in this film, I will defer a full discussion of it until the next chapter, on Era notte a Roma , where the zoom was utilized throughout.

14. Another way of saying this, in the vocabulary of the realist Rossellini, lies in Gianni Rondolino's formulation:

This time, lacking the references to everyday concrete reality, the representation becomes opaque, not very meaningful, even mystifying. Because . . . the historic background remains precisely that, a background, an appearance rather than a reality, notwithstanding the precise references to this or that meaningful detail, to this or that chronological or naturalistic aspect. The characters are dropped into a social and ambient reality which is sufficiently well-defined, but this "definition" does not exceed the limits of the kind of lithograph which tries to look like an oil painting. It does not cut into the genuine critical relations between reality and fiction, document and fabulation ( Rossellini , pp. 97-98).

15. Of the various critics of this film, only Leo Braudy has came close to an understanding of what is at stake here:

The importance and novelty of della Rovere for Rossellini's career derives directly from its acceptance of artifice—role-playing, the assumption of disguise—as a way toward moral truth. . . . [This film] introduces the idea that role-playing and disguise can lead to a liberation and realization of the self. By stressing De Sica playing Bardone [sic] playing Grimaldi playing della Rovere, it brings together for the first time in Rossellini's films his double interest in the naturalness of his characters and the artifice of his actors and actresses, and looks forward to the elaborate exploration of role-playing and artifice that Rossellini will conduct in The Rise of Louis XIV .

Braudy is right to stress the film's fascination with role-playing and artifice, but as we have seen, Rossellini had already been experimenting with it for over ten years. And Braudy prefers, quite plausibly, to read the fantastic and the artificial as a way to further and more solidly ground the self and reality. It seems also possible, however, to read these elements as part of a general destabilizing of any and all fixed notions of self and of reality ("Rossellini: From 'Open City' to 'General della Rovere,'" p. 673).

16. Guido Aristarco, Cinema italiano 1960 (Milan: Il Saggitore, 1961), pp. 15-17.

17. Lino Miccichè, Il cinema italiano degli anni '60 (Venice: Marsilio Editore, 1975), pp. 35-36.

22— Era Notte a Roma (1960)

1. Sergio Amidei, the principal screenwriter, has said that he first got the idea for the film as an answer to the insults of General Montgomery, who had claimed that most Italians turned in escaped Allied prisoners rather than run the risk of hiding them. (Quoted in Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 154.)

2. "Jane Scrivener," Inside Rome With the Germans , p. 85.

3. The Russian is a new character in Rossellini's gallery, or almost new for, in fact, we saw Russian in L'uomo dalla croce (1943). In the earlier film, the Russian is a cynical ideologue, a senza Dio (godless one) who Rossellini portrays as negatively as the corrupt Nazis of Open City . After this film, the Russian simply disappears for seventeen years, to be reborn as the amiable, warm sergeant played by Serge Bondarchuk, the Soviet director. (According to Renzo Renzi, he was the first Russian since World War II to participate in a film made in the West.) As everyone at the time and since has recognized, the sergeant is a clear nod by Rossellini toward hopes for the continuance of détente after so many years of cold war. (In fact, Rossellini and Giovanni Ralli were awarded prizes at the Czech film festival in Karlovy Vary that same year for their work on the film.) It is precisely on these grounds that leftist critics such as Adelio Ferrero have attacked the film as "abstractly pacifist and basically mystifying," and thus a stupid attempt to inject sixties ideas about détente back into the Resistance period (Adelio Ferrero and Guido Oldrini, Da Roma città aperta alla ragazza di Bube [Milan: Edizioni di "Cinema Nuovo," 1965], p. 68).

4. This voice-over does not appear in the screenplay published in the "Dal soggetto al film" series ( Era notte a Roma di Roberto Rossellini , ed. Renzo Renzi [Bologna: Capelli, 1960]), but was present in versions of the film that I saw both in the United States and in Europe. In the four versions of the film I have seen, each had different scenes missing. The published screenplay has both gaps and additional scenes that I have seen in none of the film versions. The time usually given in Italian sources is 120 minutes; Guarner gives 120 minutes in his filmography, but in his text says it lasts 145 minutes. The versions I have seen have run between 120 and 140 minutes. In this situation, the fixing of a definitive version is obviously impossible.

In this connection, it should be pointed out—and marveled at—how much English (and Russian) is left in the version of this film shown in Italy. Since subtitles are quite rare in that country, this means, as we saw earlier with Paisan , that contemporary Italians must fight the barriers of language as valiantly as the film's characters. Aprà and Berengo-Gardin report in their "Documentazione" that the Italian version of the film has more Italian in it, and while this seems correct, many moments important in terms of both dramatic emotion and narrative understanding pass completely in English.

5. New York Times , December 19, 1959. The idea of the film as the Resistance and Rome as seen from the point of view of foreigners is often stressed in interviews given by various people connected with the film. Brunello Rondi says that they had initially considered calling the film "The Anniversary," since, as originally planned, it was a return fifteen years later for "the Englishman who tells the story in the first person." According to Rondi, the whole film was to be understood as told by Pemberton, but Rossellini decided to remove the narrated beginning. In the finished film some narration remains, but the identity of the voice is confusing. Though the voice never identifies itself as one of the protagonists, Rondi clearly suggests that it is Pemberton's voice ( Era notte a Roma , ed. Renzi, pp. 68-71). Similarly, Jean-André Fieschi automatically assumes that the voice is Pemberton's ("Dov'è Rossellini?" Cahiers du cinéma , no. 131 [May 1962], 21). The problem is that the voice is clearly American , a fact that nonnative speakers might miss, but which can probably be ascribed to simple carelessness on Rossellini's part.

In any case, in this film the shift to a subjectively based depiction of reality is problematic and only partial, refused even the ground of its own doubt, for during the footage of the Anzio landing, another voice "objectively" narrates the events, speaking perhaps as the "voice of history." The point seems to be that the largest outlines of the great movements of human beings can perhaps be objectively stated, but any closer examination, if it is to be carried out with sincerity, inevitably entails a subjective relativization of these events.

6. When asked about this character in 1970, Rossellini told his interviewers, "This was someone I knew in real life. I had to hide from him for months. He was crippled, and that gave me some insight into his psychology, which gave rise to the character in the film" ("A Panorama of History," 97). Rossellini's easy conflation of physical, psychological, and moral deformities leads one to think that these bits of stylized characterization were based more on prejudice and sloppy thinking than on aesthetic grounds.

7. In the Spanish interview, Rossellini describes his increasing use of the zoom as a reaction to the excessive motion of hand-held cameras. "My system has two interlocking motors, and one of them acts as a counterweight to stop the lens oscillating as it moves, so that you don't get a zoom effect. This gives me great mobility—for example, I can zoom from an angle of 25 degrees to one of 150 degrees, and this opens up enormous possibilities." He also speaks of how well the set must be organized in advance in order to take advantage of the zoom as it follows the characters in all of their movements. "I was tending to do this even before: in Europa '51 there were many very difficult moving sequences, which had to be shot with the camera on a dolly following the actors around the whole time. In Hitchcock's films the moving shots are very important and he has to have special sets built that the actors can appear and disappear in, which is extremely complicated. But the travelling lens simplifies all this enormously" ("A Panorama of History," pp. 103-4).

8. This may be because Rossellini did not yet feel at ease with the zoom, nor had he yet worked out the proper relation between the zoom and the cut, and was thus falling back on the most conventional editing patterns he knew. John Belton, in an excellent article on the dynamics of the zoom, entitled "The Bionic Eye: Zoom Aesthetics" ( Cinéaste , 11, no. 1, 20-27) refers to an article by Joseph V. Mascelli published in 1957 in American Cinematographer , in which Mascelli describes how to disguise the zoom as a tracking shot by using a lot of doorways for the lens to "move" past. Given the plethora of doorways in Era notte a Roma , Rossellini may also, at this point at least, have been trying to disguise his new technique.

9. Era notte a Roma , ed. Renzi, pp. 39-40.

23— Viva l'Italia! (1960)

1. Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 37.

2. BFI Dossier Number 8 , 22.

3. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 87-88.

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.

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.

6. Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 71.

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

8. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 248, 250-51.

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).

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.

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.

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

24— Vanina Vanini (1961)

1. Rossellini maintained in an interview some years ago that the only authentic version of the film was stored at the Cinémathèque française. This bit of information has been dutifully repeated by one Rossellini critic after another, but I was unable to locate the print at the Cinémathèque. In the absence of the definitive print against which to compare the released version, we will have to rely on Rossellini's testimony and the testimony of later critics (most of whom, however, simply repeat Rossellini; one gets the impression reading the criticism that no one has ever actually seen the "authentic" version).

2. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 169.

3. Jean-André Fieschi, review of Vanina Vanini, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 135 (September 1962), 41. The mystery of the definitive text continues in the United States as well. The only version of the film extant in the United States is distributed by Corinth Films, which lists it at 113 minutes; the Italian version, however, even after the producer's cuts, is listed at 125 minutes.

What is especially interesting in this controversy is that, despite his machinations, producer Ergas had obviously come completely under the spell of Rossellini's charm, as witness a newspaper interview he gave at the opening of the Venice film festival:

It is my belief that the public is not only interested in junk; people also like to think, in fact, and to enjoy films which show some sensitivity. Our job as producers . . . is also cultural: to disseminate classic texts, through the expressive medium of the cinema, making them live again in the images of a film. Thus was born Vanina Vanini (Quoted in Aprà and Berengo-Gardin, "Documentazione," 38).

4. Gian Maria Guglielmino's criticism was excerpted in the film monthly Il nuovo spettatore cinematografico (no. 24 [August-September 1961]), whose editor declared that Rossellini obviously did not know the first thing about making a film.

5. Fieschi, review of Vanina Vanini , 41.

6. For example, at one point Vanina suggests to her lover that they run away to America, and Pietro replies, "No, because only money counts over there." Another invented line of dialogue not in Stendhal, which looks forward to Visconti's The Leopard , has Pietro shout at Vanina: "Remember that your world is doomed to disappear. You're all dead, and you don't know it."

7. Quoted in Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 74-75. Among their other charges: Rossellini changed Pietro from being rigorous and prudent (presumably the model for revolutionary heroes) to being vain and impulsive; he added a sexual interest between Pietro and the countess Vitelleschi (only a hint of which remains in the extant version); and he made Prince Vanini more debonair, as opposed to their Vanini, who had been based on the famous Jewish banker Torlonia. They also wanted the film to end during the Roman carnival, overtly recalling the ending of Carné's Les Enfants du paradis . Baldelli also reprints a long letter on the subject sent him by Trombadori. (See Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 299-300, n. 23.)

8. Some ten years later Rossellini told Baldelli and his students: "I pushed it further toward a chronicle of the times, to a chronicle traced by a craftsman rather than by an artist like Stendhal. I don't know if . . . that is, I departed from his own mode, which was pretty romantic, no?" (Ibid., p. 241).

9. J. Hoberman, "Viva l'Italia II," Village Voice , November 19, 1979.

10. Hoberman has also pointed out the predominance of fluid two-shots of the lovers in this film over the more conventional combination of close-ups and reverse-angle shots. Along with Rossellini's "Sirkian lighting," he rightly claims that this causes it to become "a supremely tactile film" (Ibid.).

11. However, I would reject the obsessively overschematized reading of the color symbolism in which Paul Mayersberg indulges in an article on this film in the British journal Movie (no. 6 [January 1963], 321-34). Mayersberg also insists on specific symbolic readings of clothing, wood, and fire, in addition to the colors. In one short scene, for example, we see at a great distance some cut trees that have been stacked and other trees that remain standing. Mayersberg's very precise delineation of the political "meaning" of this lumber seems completely arbitrary.

12. Fieschi, review of Vanina Vanini , 42.

13. Ibid.

14. Stendhal's ending is incredibly abrupt. Pietro beats Vanina with the chains, and then the story ends with the following two sentences: "Vanina resta anéantie. Elle revint à Rome; et le journal annonce qu'elle vient d'épouser le prince don Livio Savelli" (Vanina was utterly overcome. She returned to Rome, and the newspaper announced that she had just married Prince don Livio Savelli) (Stendhal, Chroniques italiennes [Paris: Gallimard, 1952], p. 338). Rossellini was also very aware of the difference between his portrayal of Vanina and Stendhal's: "Stendhal's character is so cynical—a Roman noblewoman who believes in absolutely nothing and satisfies specific instincts, so this is where there is a substantial change in the character" (Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Roberto Rossellini," 119).

15. Adriano Aprà has maintained, provocatively if rather reductively, that the film is about the absolute separation of the male and female worlds, which of course are also totally dependent on one another. Pietro is the line and Vanina is the circle; Pietro is the day and Vanina is the night. Now, however, the creature of the day is enmeshed in this film of the night, and the various light changes in the whorehouse are meant to signal that he is a mediator in the dream world of the film. In Aprà's paradigm, the liberation of the people becomes paradise, Pietro purgatory, and Vanina hell; or, alternatively, revolution, democracy (Pietro) and fascism (Vanina), though she is a "rebellious daughter" of the Fascist Church. ( Dibattito su Rossellini , ed. Menon, p. 110).

16. There is a hint that the relationship between the Prince and the Countess Vitelleschi was originally meant to serve as a foil for, or commentary on, the relationship between Vanina and Pietro, for early in the extant version of the film the countess turns him away by declaring, "We've already sinned enough," thereby introducing the theme of sexual guilt that will haunt the young lovers. If so, this material was edited out with the rest of the first three reels.

17. In the story Vanina goes to the cardinal dressed as a man (thus paralleling Pietro's early disguise in both the story and the film as a woman), is discovered behind the curtain, pulls a gun on the cardinal, and informs him that she has removed the bullets from his own gun. She is described as "ravishing" and promises the cardinal a kiss if he helps Pietro. The conversation then turns cute, considering that it began with her brandishing a pistol. Finally, "Notre marché est fait! s'écria Vanina, et la preuve, c'est qu'en voici la récompense dit-elle en l'embrassant. Le ministre prit la récompense" (p. 334).

25— Anima Nera (1962)

1. Renzo Rossellini's statement is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, however. Adriano Aprà, in his recent filmography in Le cinéma révélé , reports that the forty-six-minute film was broadcast on September 10, 1961, at 10:45 P.M. The credits say that it was "realized" by Federigo Valli and directed by Rossellini.

2. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 232.

3. Giuseppe Ferrara, "L'Opera di Roberto Rossellini," in Rossellini, Antonioni, Buñuel , 42.

4. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , p. 102.

5. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 232. Mirrors have long been used in filmmaking, Rossellini explains, but only with an immobile camera. His contribution was to devise a way to use mirrors in conjunction with the Pancinor zoom, so that both the camera and the characters could move during a scene without botching the take. His explanation of the optics involved goes on for some three pages in Baldelli.

6. Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, "Anima nera," in Teatro (Milan: Garzanti, 1965), p. 142.

26— "Illibatezza" (1962)

1. Verdone, Roberto Rossellini , p. 81.

27— Introduction to the History Films

1. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 133 (July 1962), 6.

2. "Responsibilità del governo passati e presenti," Cinema nuovo , no. 141 (September-October 1959), 413.

3. Roberto Rossellini, "Un nuovo corso per il cinema italiano," Cinema nuovo , no. 152 (July-August 1961), 307, 311-13. This essay was originally written as part of a conference held in Milan the previous year concerning "The Audio-Visual Media and the Man of Scientific and Industrial Civilization."

4. "Censure et culture" (open letter to Renzo Helfer), Cinéma 61 , no. 60 (October 1961), 26.

5. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma (1962), 5. Further references to this interview will be included in the text.

6. Later, in 1965, he adds in his newspaper article "Difendere la speranza che è dentro di noi" the startling opinion that "the State, especially, will intervene to spread truth and knowledge." He affects the grand tone in his 1966 "La ricerca di stile e di linguaggio e il rinnovamento del contenuto" ( Filmcritica , no. 167 [May-June 1966], 265), ending this essay with one of his most passionate appeals:

I, a free man without preconceived ideas, do not favor optimism, but rather the knowledge of things. I'm against the professional mourners of progress, I'm against complaining, moaning, pulling out your hair, and all those who are so used to doing it. I think it is beautiful and exalting to live in the grand current of history, to live therefore in the midst of progress, not in its wake but with an alert mind and a critical sense so that it can be governed and we can find our way with it.

Rossellini's interest in science links him to another major figure of the twentieth century, Sergei Eisenstein, who also wanted, in the words of Barthélemy Amengual, "to reconcile the paths of science and those of poetry, reason and myth, thought and emotion" (Barthélemy Amengual, Que Viva Eisenstein! [Lausanne, Switzerland: Éditions L'Age d'Homme, 1980], p. 585). Most of Eisenstein's films, of course, were filled with physical action, and thus differ sharply from Rossellini's. However, one relatively little-known (and astonishing) project of Eisenstein's, the filming of Marx's Das Kapital , was closer to the spirit of the Italian director. Perhaps the clearest statement of the similarity of the two men's ideas comes in this 1930 remark of Eisenstein's made first at the Sorbonne:

The intellectual film is the only thing capable of overcoming the discord between the speech of logic and the speech of imagery. On the basis of the speech of kinodialectic, intellectual cinematography will not be the cinematography of episodes, continue

not the cinematography of anecdotes. The intellectual kino will be the cinematography of concepts. It will be the direct expression of entire ideological systems and systems of concepts.

My new conception of the film is based on the idea that the intellectual and emotional processes which so far have been conceived of as existing independently of each other—art versus science—and form an antithesis heretofore never united, can be brought together to form a synthesis on the basis of cinedialectic, a process that only the cinema can achieve. The scientific formula can be given the emotional quality of a poem. I will attempt to film Capital so that the humble worker or peasant can understand it in the dialectical manner.

(Quoted in Marie Seton, Sergei M. Eisenstein . Revised edition [London: Dennis Dobson, 1978], p. 153. The lecture was originally published as "Les principes du nouveau cinéma russe," in Revue du cinéma , no. 9 [April 1930].)

However, while both directors want to aid their audiences to "think" better and presumably more critically, Rossellini believes that the process of thinking is itself unproblematic, and he sometimes seems to be saying that what is important is the sheer amount of information transmitted. For Eisenstein, however, the purpose of filming Das Kapital will be not to convey information, nor even to teach Marxist principles, but to aid the spectator in learning to think dialectically . Amengual explains that as part of this attempt

to liberate the spectator and not to subjugate him, to give him an instrument (dialectical materialism) and not to indoctrinate him, Eisenstein planned—an idea that was more Vertovian than Brechtian—to reveal his own game periodically and thus make his passive "subject" a partner who had been warned: "The mechanics of production must be made explicit. To conduct the spectator, by means of a chain of cinematic provocations, up to a specified emotional effect, and then furnish him a card saying 'Well, now we arrived at such and such a point'" (p. 588).

Except for certain complicated aspects of Louis XIV , which I will look at more closely later, Rossellini emphatically does not (intentionally) reveal himself or his game in these films.

7. "Cinema: Nuove prospettive di conoscenza," Filmcritica , nos. 135-36 (July-August 1963), 52.

8. Informazione democrazia: La RAI TV in Italia , ed. Beppe Lopez (Rome: Dedalo Libri, 1973), p. 59.

9. "Conversazione sulla cultura e sul cinema," reprinted in R.R.: Roberto Rossellini , ed. Edoardo Bruno (Rome: Bulzoni, 1979), pp. 29-31. (All of Rossellini's articles and interviews originally published in Filmcritica are reprinted in this useful volume.)

10. The relation between Brecht and Rossellini is complicated. For one thing, their attitudes concerning the place of emotion in representation are equally contradictory, for while both wanted to appeal to the spectator intellectually rather than emotionally, they also felt, like Eisenstein, that intellectual curiosity and the life of the mind could be emotionally fulfilling in their own right. The most important difference between them, however, is that, while Brecht was continually at pains to point out the constructed, made nature of the spectacle through the famous Verfremdungseffekt , the unrelenting destruction of illusionism, Rossellini's entire conscious aesthetic was built upon the necessity of illusionism. As we have seen throughout his career, Rossellini realized that it was impossible to portray reality directly, without mediation, and various experiments reveal that realization in subtle ways. Yet once in the realm of the overtly historical and "scientific," when the overriding project is to inform, Rossellini seems to want to forget the problematic nature of representation. The situation is complex, of course, for there is a way in which the long takes, the refusal to give in to Hollywood-style illusionism (which is paradoxically based on short takes), is in itself illusion-breaking. Nevertheless, his efforts in this direction are tentative and finally minor, at least com- soft

pared with Brecht's and those of his cinematic offspring Godard, and it is misleading to call Rossellini Brechtian, as many have.

One other important difference is the essentializing nature of Rossellini's films: as we have seen, all of Rossellini's vaunted placing of human beings in a specific time and place leads nevertheless and inevitably to the discovery of a timeless human nature. Nothing could be further from Brecht's project. This quotation from Brecht, in which he distances his own practice from that of conventional theater, can also serve to distinguish him from Rossellini:

The bourgeois theatre emphasized the timelessness of its objects. Its representation of people is bound by the alleged "eternally human." Its story is arranged in such a way as to create "universal" situations that allow Man with a capital M to express himself: man of every period and every colour. All its incidents are just one enormous cue, and this cue is followed by the "eternal" response: the inevitable, usual, natural, purely human response.

( Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic , ed. and trans. by John Willet [New York: Hill and Wang, 1964], pp. 96-97. For a more detailed comparison of Brecht and Rossellini, see my "Just How Brechtian Is Rossellini?" in Film Criticism , 3, no. 2 [1979]. This article is also reprinted in the BFI dossier on Rossellini.)

11. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Rossellini," p. 122.

12. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 145 (July 1963), 8.

13. Ibid., 13.

14. Renzo Rossellini told me in 1979 that his father involved him in this film "to save me from something dangerous." Renzo had been working in France at the time and at age 17 had become involved as a "sympathizer" with the revolutionary FLN. (Interview with the author, Rome, June 1979.)

15. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Rossellini," p. 124.

16. Renzo Rossellini has said that this entire period, when his father was moving toward the history films, was the "most important intellectual experience of my life." In their interminable discussions about civilization and world history, which began the summer during which General della Rovere was filmed, Renzo admits that his father was the "free spirit" and he the dogmatic one, instead of the usual roles assigned in father-son debates. At the time, Renzo was committed to a Marxist and materialist perspective, while his father took the Rousseauist, humanist position of an admirer of the French Revolution. The result was a dialectic that, according to Renzo, was for him the "greatest university possible."

17. Interview, Filmcritica , no. 190 (August 1968), 351.

18. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 225. Adriano Aprà sees the television-cinema relationship as part of an elaborate male-female dialectic working throughout Rossellini's career. In his model, the cinema is essentially feminine, and thus Rossellini's move to television is also a definitive move to the possibility of a cold, masculine examination. Using McLuhan's terminology, Aprà finds that neorealist films were too "hot." He also suggests that Rossellini found the cinematic situation of the darkroom and the projected light very manipulative, making the cinema a kind of maternal womb, as scathingly depicted in "Illibatezza," his last theatrical film. ("Rossellini oltre neorealismo," in Il neorealismo cinematografico italiano , ed. Lino Miccichè [Venice: Marsilio Editore, 1975], p. 297.)

19. Cinema: A Critical Dictionary , ed. Richard Roud (New York: Viking, 1980), vol. 2, p. 900. Again, one person's meat seems to be another's poison: I have discussed these films with critics who have no difficulty with Antonioni's longueurs who find them excessively slow, and with nonspecialist audiences—interested almost totally, as Rossellini would have wanted, in their content—who have found them fascinating.

This question of "boredom" is obviously one of the main reasons that Rossellini's didactic films have never, with the exception of Louis XIV , been shown on American public television. Another problem, examined over ten years ago by the New York Times television critic, John J. O'Connor (April 30, 1972, II, 17) is that the dubbing is painfully obvious to Americans, though it does not seem to bother Europeans. Since these films rely so heavily on words, subtitled versions do make one feel as though one has been reading a book rather than seeing a film. Obviously, dubbing is preferable since there is no special concern with preserving a star's voice, and in dubbing virtually everything can be translated. O'Connor reported that in the future Rossellini planned to have his actors mouth English on the set so that the postproduction dubbing into English would seem more natural, thus enabling him to get American television contracts. (In fact, Rossellini did exactly that in the three-part The Age of the Medici , the definitive version of which is in English, and stories are told of minor characters mouthing words that had absolutely no meaning for them. It was all for naught, however, as one might have suspected, since this excellent and complex work has never been shown on American television either.)

20. James Roy MacBean, Film and Revolution (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1975), p. 210.

21. Goffredo Fofi, Il cinema italiano: Servi e padroni (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1971), p. 160.

22. Interview, Cahiers du cinéma , no. 183 (October 1966), 18-19.

23. Cinéma [Paris], no. 206 (February 1976), 70-71. The most straightforward recent version of Rossellini's position can be found in Paul Schrader's remark that "the facts of the past must be framed in such a manner to reveal their —not Rossellini's, not our—intrinsic truth." (Schrader, "The Rise of Louis XIV," Cinema [Beverly Hills], 6, no. 3 [Spring 1971], 4.)

24. Another theoretically provocative formulation of this view is that of Pascal Kané, writing in Cahiers du cinéma . For him the fascinating contradiction of history films is that a presumably unknown historical period must somehow be represented, and thus recognizable at the same time. The remainder that is always left over is what Kané calls "l'effet d'étrangeté." Comparing Rossellini's Louis XIV with Pasolini's Thousand and One Nights , Kané finds that, for Rossellini, the point is to locate an absolute historical truth and then to convey it:

The strangeness of the representation, the resistance which history opposes to its own deciphering by the spectator, is therefore not the product of an insufficient reading, of a lack of knowledge concerning the context. The feeling of strangeness doesn't have any other source, it belongs in no case to a fact of narration, it is not (or at least shouldn't be) the support of any jouissance . It is only the effect of a "more than real" asked of a particular representation. The signifieds which are produced, among other didactic ones, will therefore be totally identified with the historical referent of the story.

Pasolini's film, on the other hand, offers the "absolute strangeness of practice and discourse, but also of bodies and places":

It is a cinema fascinated by "the Other," pure jouissance of the heterogeneous, and absence of every foundation, of every historic, sexual, economic, and even architectural referent of the story. . . . History is no longer anything but a particular case of mythic discourse.

To the omnipresence of the Rossellinian historic reference . . . and correlatively, to its eliding of the narration, of the "time of the enunciation," is here opposed an infinite distancing from all contexts, dissipated in the infinite difference of the narration, the only true reference. . . . With Rossellini, the signified will be identified exactly with the referent of the fiction (supposedly full) without ever constituting an autonomous production. With Pasolini, every discourse is only a discourse on the narration itself, the only tangible referent, the only foundation of meaning (the historic reference is emptied of every role).

(Pascal Kané, "Cinéma et histoire: L'Effet d'étrangeté," Cahiers du cinéma , nos. 254-55 [December 1974-January 1975], 78, 80-81.)

25. Leprohon, The Italian Cinema , p. 213.

26. Ibid., p. 176.

27. An interesting comparison can be made with the CBS television program of the 1950s entitled "You Are There." In at least one "dramatization"—the "Death of Socrates"—the two projects overlap. In the American television version, as might be expected, the overwhelming emphasis is on the highly dramatized clash of personalities, with little or no attempt to explain Socratic ideas.

28. He does not want to include anything deliberately anachronistic, of course (this kind of insistently illusion-breaking device never interested him), but this pursuit of the essential idea of an era explains why he was not concerned by the obvious artificiality of some of the matte shots in Socrates and other films. These sometimes totally unconvincing matte shots have disturbed many American critics. One practical matter that must be kept in mind, however, is that, while these films are usually seen on the giant screen, they were intended for television, where the matte shots would obviously be much less noticeable. John Dorr makes many of the same points I have made above concerning Rossellini's search for essence, but I think he goes too far in claiming that Rossellini deliberately zooms in on the artificial matte shot of the acropolis in Socrates in order to stress that this kind of historical illusionism is unimportant ("Roberto Rossellini 1974," Take One , 4, no. 3 [May 1974], 15).

A great deal has also been written concerning Rossellini's use of the zoom in these films. Dorr makes the point that its use enables the director to capture the "meaning" of an event in staging it, rather than later, as with most filmmakers, in the more analytic editing process. Dorr is clearly following Bazin here, but also, I think, follows him into error when he ontologically privileges the long take over montage (without, of course, using those terms): "His camera is free to move about the action without destroying its wholeness. . . . The scene retains its immediacy, its reality as event" (Ibid.). This notion of the wholeness of an event is intriguing, though it entails gestalt and phenomenological questions that cannot be gone into here. Nevertheless, since the camera can never take in the whole event all the time, an elaborate psychological proof would be necessary to demonstrate just how the inevitable fragmentation of an event produced by the frame at any given moment differs essentially from the fragmentation produced by montage. But it is also possible to talk about the use of the zoom in ways that go beyond Dorr's neo-Bazinian terms. Thus, Fred Camper, writing in the Chicago Reader , says that Rossellini's zoom lens' "multiple perspectives, its ability to change from close-up to long shot and back again, express the continual interdependence between individual and environment, between part and whole, throughout history" (November 3, 1978; quoted in Belton, "The Bionic Eye," p. 22). And Robin Wood has correctly pointed out the inherent distancing properties of the zoom that result from its obtrusiveness: "Its expressive strength lies in our awareness that our perceptions are being guided, our attention focussed. . . . Properly used, the zoom is itself a distancing device, subtly and persuasively reminding us of the presence of the director who is directing our perceptions as surely as he directs the actors" ("Rossellini," 8).

28— L'Età del Ferro (1964)

1. "A Panorama of History," 86.

2. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Rossellini," 125.

3. Ibid., 124-25.

4. The importance of Eisenstein's (and Rossellini's) theory is that it calls the Saus- soft

surean notion of the sign into question. For a further discussion of this complicated subject see Marie-Claire Ropars-Wuilleumier, Le texte divisé: Essai sur l'écriture filmique (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1981).

5. Aprà and Ponzi, "An Interview With Rossellini," 124.

6. The fictionality of this episode clashes productively with the rest of the series, which is composed of documentary footage or historical recreations, thus allowing a mild form of anti-illusionism at the same time. Near the end of the episode, the fiction is undercut again with further documentary footage concerning the taking of Monte Cassino, and the liberation of Rome and Florence (including footage from Paisan ). The surprisingly dissonant music of this episode is also vastly different from the music of earlier Rossellini pictures and abets the anti-illusionistic effect. It also looks forward to Mario Nascimbene's electronic scores composed for the later historical films.

7. Throughout this period of his career, Rossellini will be attacked on these grounds from both the Left and the Right. Thus, if Marxists complain about his ahistorical humanism, religious critics have not appreciated it either. The Catholic Giuseppe Sala, for example, chides the director for his "faith in Man which is never cracked by an Augustinian anxiety or by a problematic doubt." Rossellini's "optimistic vision of progress and of human finalism" links him with Sartre and Moravia and their view of man as an end in himself. For Sala, this "ideological position" threatens the "sense of love and mystery" of his best films ( Desolazione e speranza nel cinema italiano d'oggi [Rome: Salvatore Sciascia Editore, 2d ed., 1963], p. 56).

8. After a while the episode begins to resemble the thirty-minute documentaries made for American television by the National Association of Manufacturers, which, some thirty years ago, touted the latest advances of American industry every Saturday morning. (One small irony in the footage that Rossellini uses, in addition to the one mentioned earlier, is that all the machines are made by Mesta Machine Company, an American manufacturer, which inadvertently shows the extent of American economic influence in this grand "Italian" upswing.)

9. Concerning the refrigerators, Rossellini told Aprà and Ponzi ("An Interview With Rossellini," 126):

It used to be the case that to show something grandiose you would show a cathedral, not a refrigerator. . . . It's true there is something absurd about the refrigerator: it's a luxury, it's superfluous, but it's also of practical importance. You have to be able to look at things without preconceived ideas to know what's right and what isn't. You have to be able to state things. This is exactly what I've tried to do in the fifth episode, bringing together a lot that can perhaps point to a clearer way forward.

10. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 180.

11. Ibid., pp. 17-80.

12. Amazingly, Rossellini told Aprà and Ponzi that "the pictures in the fifth episode . . . are never grand or celebrative, they simply analyze the phenomenon" ("An Interview With Rossellini," 126).

13. Sergio Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione (Rome: La Rassegna Editrice, 1978), p. 38.

29— La Lotta dell'Uomo per la Sua Sopravvivenza (1964–70)

1. Trasatti, Rossellini et la televisione , pp. 65-66.

2. Quoted from a private letter in Tag Gallagher's article "Roberto Rossellini and Historical Neo-Realism," in Artforum , 13 (Summer 1975), 44.

3. "Panorama of History," 83. A paradigmatic example of Rossellini's theme of the movement of history and his use of dramatic irony concerning the future comes at the very end of the third episode, when the civilizations of the Egyptians and Greeks, as well as the beginnings of Christianity, have already been explained. Two Romans, talking in a mill, complain about the increasing use of machines: for them, this means that slaves will no longer be necessary and that, therefore, the world as they know it will come to an end. The episode then closes with the jazzy, vibrant black American music with which the first episode began, along with the shots of galaxies and rockets to put the necessarily shortsighted views of the two Romans in the context of later history.

4. Guarner reports that as of his writing in May 1970, Rossellini was reediting the last three episodes of La lotta to link up more clearly with this never-filmed series on the Industrial Revolution. It, too, was to be twelve hours long, an obviously important factor in its never coming to fruition ( Roberto Rossellini , p. 120). After struggling for six years to finish La lotta , however, it is astounding that Rossellini could speak so optimistically at the time about the series he envisioned:

It shows the beginning of a complete transformation of the world, and the origins of the modern world. It starts with short scenes from the Middle Ages, as you always have to have a definite starting point. The Middle Ages saw the establishment of a completely vertical kind of civilisation, with very strictly defined values, and a clearly established way of thought. We had to show the normal everyday life of the artisans, the guilds and the corporations. The film goes on from these brief scenes to the discovery of the technology which gave rise to the Industrial Revolution, and therefore to a related series of phenomena like colonisation, new forms of social organisation and the new political ideas ("A Panorama of History," 87).

After this series, Rossellini was also planning films on the French Encyclopedists, "the history of colonisation," and the history of Japan (Ibid.).

5. Ibid., p. 85.

6. Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 119-20.

7. Interview, Film Culture , 18.

8. Ibid., p. 9.

9. Ibid., pp. 8-9.

10. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , pp. 68-69. It is probably no coincidence that Rossellini begins the second episode by insisting how much documentation actually exists concerning the Egyptian period. He maintains that nothing has been "invented"; the material has merely been put in the form of a screenplay.

11. September 12, 1970; quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 68.

12. August 8, 1970; quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 68.

13. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 302, n. 29.

14. All statistics from Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , pp. 64-65 and 290-91.

15. Claude Beylie, review of La lotta, Écran , no. 29 (October 1974), 8-9.

30— La Prise de Pouvoir par Louis XIV (1966)

1. Reported in the Chicago Sun-Times , February, 21, 1971. According to Sergio Trasatti, this figure even included the cost of the color film stock that was used. He may be right, moreover, that it was precisely these extreme conditions, reminiscent of the hard but heady days of Open City , that accounted for the film's excellence.

2. As was pointed out in the previous chapter, the fact that La lotta was first shown four years after Louis XIV is mostly an accident of logistics. When asked near the end of his life whether there wasn't a contradiction between his immediate postwar avoidance of focusing on individuals and the television films, almost all of which concentrate on individual figures, Rossellini answered that the latter were not really about the individ- soft

uals but about "stages of conquest of knowledge" and are seen, generally, through the writings these figures have left (Interview, Cinématographe , no. 18 [April-May 1976], 26-27).

3. Martin Walsh, "Rome, Open City; The Rise to Power of Louis XIV: Re-Evaluating Rossellini," Jump Cut , no. 15 (1977), 13-15. Rossellini later told the interviewer for Film Culture that the film's gradual movement to a greater luminosity was "partially conscious and partially unconscious," but insisted, characteristically, that it was "very easy to do, you can turn on some more lights, that's all" (p. 15).

4. Walsh, "Re-Evaluating Rossellini," 14.

5. Rossellini has said that the only invented scene in the film is the one that comes later with the tailor, when Louis designs a new mode of dress for his court: "The dialogue with the tailor is invented in a sense because there was no such dialogue in the records, but the argument that Louis XIV uses in the scene is one he had used a thousand times before in other contexts" (Interview, Film Culture , 7). Obviously, Rossellini has simply forgotten the opening scene.

6. MacBean, Film and Revolution , p. 213.

7. Nevertheless, Martin Walsh is correct in pointing out that much of rest of the acting—for example, the deathbed scene of Mazarin in the beginning of the film—is quite conventionally dramatic. Similarly, when Rossellini was asked by the interviewers for the French journal Cinéma in 1975 if he said to Jean-Marie Patte: "You are in Louis XIV's skin, do this and that," he gave the surprisingly conventional and decidedly non-Brechtian response, "No, of course not! But he ended up by getting into the skin of Louis XIV. If you dress him like Louis XIV, if you plunge him into a Louis XIV ambience, he will become Louis XIV" ("Roberto Rossellini: Je profite des choses," Cinéma [Paris], no. 206 [February 1976], 66).

8. Related to this is a story told by Edoardo Bruno about the day Patte forgot the word he was supposed to say and spent so much time trying to remember it that the scene had to be completely reshot. When it came time to edit the film, Rossellini retained the original shot as a way, he said, of rendering "better the impression that the king was struggling to find the 'right' word" ( Filmcritica , no. 172 [November 1966]).

9. John Hughes, "Recent Rossellini," Film Comment (July 1974), 17.

10. Walsh, "Re-Evaluating Rossellini," 14.

11. Ibid. A related, but different, question concerns Rossellini's attitude toward Louis, which is clearly ambivalent. On the one hand, he obviously admires his cleverness, but also indirectly compares him with Hitler, who, like Louis (according to Rossellini), was exalted by his subjects precisely when he was treating them most badly (Interview, Film Culture , 6). "What I love about the character is his absolute audacity: the scene with the tailor, for example. It's even insolent. But you sense at the same time his terrible timidity" (Interview, Cahiers du cinéma [1966], 19).

12. Baldelli's source for this information is an article entitled "Louis XIV la grande émission de Philippe Erlanger et Roberto Rossellini," which appeared in the French magazine Télé Sept Jours in October of 1966. As the magazine is a kind of French equivalent of TV Guide , I have been unable to locate it, even in France, in order to verify Baldelli's claim. In any case, it is impossible to believe that Rossellini would have so drastically changed his working methods merely to accommodate the producers at the ORTF. When asked by the interviewer for Film Culture a few years later how he wrote the script for this film, Rossellini gave his standard reply: "Well, when you have found the angle, you need a great deal of documents because I don't like to have a script and prewritten dialogue. I do the dialogue the last thing in the evening and I work with people who are used to working with me. I have my own ideas, I follow them and I choose things that make it more clear" (p. 7). A more important piece of evidence comes up in a 1975 interview with Écran , at which Jean Gruault, listed in the credits as responsible for the "adaptation and dialogue" of Erlanger's "scenario," was also present. Rossellini explained to the interviewer how the film came about: "My basic idea was that Louis XIV had changed the world through a change of style, dress, and etiquette. Gruault got the documents together for me, with Philippe Erlanger as the history advisor, and, quite simply, we made the film from that" Écran 75 , no. 34 [March 1975], 16). It is difficult to imagine Rossellini making such a statement in front of Gruault if it were true that the screenplay had been completely finished by Erlanger beforehand and that Rossellini had been forced to follow it to the letter.

13. Paul Schrader has maintained, "As the spectator's desire to clean out the cluttered frame, to overturn that basin of dead man's piss, grows, so does his comprehension of the unrestrained frenzy of the French Revolution. In Rossellini's film there is both the image of complete order and restraint and the suppressed rage for chaos" ("The Rise of Louis XIV," 5). This scenario of projective anachronism is clearly more Schrader's than Rossellini's or the film's.

14. MacBean, Film and Revolution , p. 225.

15. Mario Verdone, Il cinema neorealista: Da Rossellini a Pasolini (Rome: Celebes Editore, 1977), p. 56. Rossellini's use of anecdotes that do not seem strictly "necessary" to the plot has occasioned much of the debate over this film among American critics. The opening sally was MacBean's praise of Rossellini's "materialist mise-en-scène, in which things —the material objects of seventeenth-century France—are not mere props and backdrops for the drama, but share equal billing, as it were, with the human figures" (MacBean, Film and Revolution , p. 212). While it seems clear that MacBean is claiming too much conscious intentionality on Rossellini's part for this "Marxist technique," he has hit upon the director's long-standing proclivity for the mechanical, for objects and tools, for how things are made or done. As an example, he cites the scene early in the film in which a trio of doctors examines Mazarin's bodily fluids, smelling his sweat and his urine, and prescribes yet more bloodletting, while considering the administration of pills made of rhubarb and ground-up precious stones. Clearly, this sequence is only minimally narrative, for its principal purpose is to summarize the state of knowledge concerning the human body in the seventeenth céntury. Brian Henderson, in an article that attempts to resuscitate Bazin's reputation, argues on the contrary that in Louis XIV "there are no scenes included for historical background or period flavor; none is included as historical description of the seventeenth century, materialist or otherwise. Once a scene is included—its boundaries determined exactly by its pertinence to the seizure process—it may be realized with a multi-layered complexity that Bazin called 'synthesis' ("Bazin Defended Against His Devotees," Film Quarterly , 32, no. 4 [Summer 1979], 35). The vague "multi-layered complexity" does little to account for the extranarrative density of this scene in which the doctors' collective ruminations are so heavily foregrounded. Henderson's argument becomes most specious when he tries to justify, as narrative, the inordinate attention paid to the rituals surrounding the king's levee because "they reveal how, when, and where the king receives the message 'Mazarin wants to see you when you rise'; and affect whether he will receive it in time" (p. 36). In order to make a polemical point in favor of Bazin, Henderson seriously misrepresents the dynamics of this film.

16. Quoted in Tag Gallagher, "Roberto Rossellini and Historical Neo-Realism," 44.

17. Interview, Film Culture , 6.

18. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 302. Overall, some 38,000 tickets were sold in Parisian theaters, for a box office of the equivalent of around 50 million lire ($75,000).

19. Schrader, "The Rise of Louis XIV," 3.

31— Acts of the Apostles (1969)

1. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 51.

2. Similarly, we hear thunder when the Holy Spirit visits the apostles at Pentecost, and we see the results of this visit when the apostles are understood by everyone in the crowd in his or her own language (and Peter explains what happened later), but Rossellini visually spares us the tongues of fire. He does include the first miracle accomplished by Peter, the healing of the crippled beggar, but it is done offhandedly and seems present primarily to allow Peter to give the important speech attributing his healing powers to God rather than to himself. Likewise, we later see Saul being struck blind by lightning, and we hear Christ's voice asking why Saul is persecuting him, but the result is perhaps the most discreet miracle ever portrayed in cinema history.

3. Peter, for example, was played by a French clown named Jacques Dumur. "Peter was a fisherman, so I knew that I needed a man who would be completely at ease with his own body and have certain, innocent is not the right word, kind of eyes. I found the clown and he is absolutely great. The important thing is to find a face, when you have the face you have a great part of the character and if he is not competent you must make him so" (Interview, Film Culture , 22).

4. All production information comes from Luciano Scaffa and Marcella Mariani Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini (Rome: Eri/Edizioni RAI, 1980), p. 20. This excellent book, put together by Rossellini's sister and a close collaborator, contains, along with a great deal of production information, the painfully reconstructed scripts, including camera movements, of five of Rossellini's television films and series: Acts of the Apostles, Socrates, Blaise Pascal, Augustine of Hippo, The Age of the Medici , and Cartesius .

5. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 190. Peter Lloyd, writing in Monogram , has also pointed out that while the film is "humanist" rather than Christian, nevertheless Rossellini's mise-en-scène consistently defers to the sanctity of the environment, where Christ was ("Acts of the Apostles," Monogram , no. 2 [1971], 19).

6. "A Panorama of History," 83.

7. Quoted in Gallagher, "Roberto Rossellini and Historical Neo-Realism," 44.

8. Interview, in Écran 75 , 17.

9. Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 56, 84.

10. The principal conflict that rends the early Church, in fact, is whether or not Christianity is only for Jews or is to be offered to Gentiles as well. If the latter, must Gentiles who wish to become Christians also submit to Jewish laws and customs and be circumcised? Thus Peter, when he is called to the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion, creates scandal because Jewish law forbids a Jew to enter the house of the uncircumcised. After his conversion, Paul is similarly accused, by the Jews he tries to convert, of blasphemy and sacrilege against the law. Near the end of the series, Paul is asked by his friends to make an appearance at the Jewish temple to prove that he still follows Jewish law, even though this puts him in great danger. When he is arrested by the Jewish authorities who want to execute him, he escapes by insisting on his legal rights as a Roman citizen.

Another argument occurs late in the series between two merchants, one of whom insists that the lending of money for profit violates Moses' law, the other replying that this is the only way he is able to save his business. The interest of the argument is that it anticipates one of the principal themes of the 1973 three-part series on the Medici.

11. Fofi, Il cinema italiano , p. 162.

12. Edoardo Bruno, Filmcritica , no. 196-97 (March-April 1969), quoted in Lo splendore del vero , p. 137.

13. For instance, speeches are usually cut to their core, and, unlike in the Bible, are presented as the result of an interplay between an apostle and the crowd he is addressing. A similar example concerns the first baptizing: the Bible laconically states that three thousand were baptized that day, whereas in the film it fittingly becomes an entire, joyous scene. Nor is Rossellini afraid to bring in material from other parts of the New Testament to fill in gaps in sermons and dramatic situations: thus, Paul's famous speech about the tinkling cymbals and the primacy of love is imported from 1 Cor. 13:1-11 into his confrontation with the Greeks. There are also moments included that serve to humanize, rather than individualize, the apostles, and that fit the texture of the film very well. Nor is Rossellini above an editorial interpretive comment: thus, where the Bible speaks merely of the apostles eating together communally, Rossellini in effect restages the first Eucharist—an interpretation in line with that of most theologians, but one that is not explicit in the Bible.

Only two major scenes have been added. One is a short scene in which two merchants on a trading caravan, Zaccaria and Bethel, almost come to blows over their differing interpretations of Mosaic law. The more important addition, which opens the series, features a Roman magistrate who has just arrived in Jerusalem, and a Greek scribe, a slave, who serves as his guide. Sensing the leisure of more than five hours of film ahead of him, Rossellini allows the Greek to outline the historical context in a very detailed fashion. They discuss the great temple, the status of slaves, the Hebraic Weltanschauung and attachment to law, how Herod the Great took power, the seven separate Jewish sects and the politics of each, as well as various customs like circumcision. The Greek also mentions the new Christian sect, and the two of them go to Golgotha, the site of the death of "this man called Christ" some fifty days earlier. By adding these two figures, Rossellini not only provides us with the necessary information to understand what we will see, but the way they talk about already extremely well-known matters helps also to defamiliarize them and make them new and, somehow, still in process.

Perhaps more important, however, are Rossellini's omissions from the biblical account. For one thing, his version is somewhat less anti-Semitic than the New Testament itself, which continually insists that the Jews hate Paul because they are envious over the large crowds of Gentiles attracted to him, whereas Rossellini implicitly blames their enmity on the clash of cultures and ideologies, and differing conceptions of the law and tradition. Second, almost all the minor miracles performed by Peter and Paul through the Acts are omitted, and the emphasis seems to be on avoiding the overspectacular, except when necessary to make some thematic point, but also on downplaying the element of divine intervention, placing the men before us as men. Thus, Rossellini omits the rescue of Peter by the angel from Herod's prison and the earthquake that frees Paul.

There is a sense, however, in which Rossellini has also unfairly "edited" the material to give us a more favorable picture of the apostles. Thus, he leaves out Paul's deliberate blinding of the false prophet and, even more importantly, Peter's anger at Ananias and Sapphira, who hold back part of the money they have received from selling their goods instead of handing it all over to the community. When Peter questions him, "Ananias hearing thse words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things." When Ananias' wife returns and Peter tells her what happened to her husband, "Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost" (Acts 5:5,10). Here we see the saint's (or God's) vengeful side, and the fear that accompanied the love in the making of the Christian community.

14. Lloyd, "Acts of the Apostles," 19.

15. This account of the fire-water opposition is much superior to that offered by Adriano Aprà, who, speaking at the debate transcribed and edited by Gianni Menon, correctly points out that Rossellini refuses to show the sacrifice as a whole, but then claims too much by linking the fire of the Jews and the water of the Christians, respectively, to montage and long takes ( Dibattito su Rossellini , pp. 129-30).

16. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , pp. 59-60.

32— Socrates (1970)

1. "A Panorama of History," 102.

2. Socrates and his wife, Xanthippe, are played by French theater actors, which Trasatti claims is symptomatic of Rossellini's disillusionment with the Italian television network. Rossellini has said, however, that Jean Sylvère, who plays Socrates, "had those wonderful eyes and he is a nice man. I needed the eyes and I built the face of Socrates around them" (Interview, Film Culture , 20). Sylvère does indeed bear a striking resemblance to the standard Hellenistic representation of Socrates found on many surviving busts. It is unclear how this need for physical "fidelity" fits into Rossellini's approach to history, but it seems to be another way of approaching historical reality through past ideas and past representations of what "history" looked like.

3. Variety , May 27, 1970.

4. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 75.

5. Quoted in Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 131-32.

6. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini et la televisione , p. 77.

7. Interview, Film Culture , 15.

8. Guarner, who also acted as an assistant director of the film, has helpfully reviewed Rossellini's sources and reports that the director used the Apology, Euthyphron, Crito , and Phaedo , and bits and pieces from other dialogues. The exhortation on rhetoric is borrowed from the Phaedrus , for example, but here put in the dramatic context of Socrates trying to discourage his would-be defense attorney Lysias (Guarner, Roberto Rossellini , pp. 135-36). Rossellini also told Film Culture that the scene in which Socrates and Crito witness the sacrificing of a cock to Aesculapius was invented so that Socrates' well-known last line on his deathbed would make sense (p. 7).

Interestingly, Guarner complains that Socrates' wife, Xanthippe, known throughout history as a shrew, has been made too sympathetic in Rossellini's version. She seems quite shrewish enough to this viewer, however, for at several points she berates Socrates for his "foolishness" and for his refusal to take proper care of his family. If Rossellini allows her to be a little more sympathetic at the end, when Socrates is about to die, he should perhaps be applauded rather than chastised for departing from legend, especially since there is little factual evidence for one interpretation or the other.

9. Even at the end, Rossellini was apparently restraining himself. He told Film Culture that he purposely avoided close-ups in the final sequence because he did not want to become emotional. "The timing of the scene is all and it is chosen for clarity as I don't want to seduce" (pp. 4-5).

10. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 80.

11. Paolo Bertetto, Sipario , no. 294 (October 1970), reprinted in Lo splendore del vero , pp. 147-48.

12. Baldelli, Roberto Rossellini , p. 195.

13. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 81.

33— Blaise Pascal (1972)

1. His collaborator at Rice University, Dr. Clark Read, said concerning this series, "We are trying to examine science as an expression of humanism and the possibilities it offers man in terms of a humanism" (Interview, Film Culture , 35). See this interview for an extensive discussion of the project. Robert J. Lawrence, an American who was connected with Rossellini's production company, Orizzonte 2000, was quoted in Variety as saying that the series on science would be almost totally visual and could be narrated in any language. According to Lawrence, preparation for the filming had been stalled "by the need to develop special equipment, such as cameras to film the universe and for microphotography to make possible magnification from 1 to 4,500 in a continuous zooming motion" (March 29, 1972, p. 50). Rossellini apparently planned to take his Pancinor technique even into the world known only to the microscope.

2. In discussing this project, Rossellini again showed his political naïveté (or disingenuousness) by describing the American Revolution as "a revolution which is totally different from all others. It was not a class taking over the power of another class, but was based only on ideas" (Interview, Film Culture , 28).

3. This screenplay should not be taken too seriously, however, as Rossellini rarely paid much attention to what had usually been written down only for the purpose of obtaining financial backing. In fact, he says in the interview portion of Baldelli's book that the script had been written by someone else ( Roberto Rossellini , p. 235).

4. Interview, Film Culture , 11-12. In another interview Rossellini claims directly, "In my opinion Caligula, as the son of Germanicus, is a Republican" ("A Panorama of History," 84).

5. Most of this film about seventeenth-century France was shot, surprisingly, in a small town near Rome called Magliano Sabina, only a few hundred yards from the Autostrada del Sole, the main freeway running the length of the Italian peninsula. Some thirty of the forty-six scenes were filmed there, and most of the rest were shot at the Odescalchi Palazzo in Bassano Romano. The scenes of the monastery at Port Royal and of the witchcraft trial were filmed at the abbey at Fossanova. (The locations are so rich that Daryl Chin, writing in the Soho Weekly News , has even complained that the Italianate settings are too lush for the austerity of the subject ["Rossellini in the Past," June 2, 1977].) The script book edited by Luciano Scaffa and Marcella Rossellini, which is the source of this production information, also points out the great care taken to reproduce as authentically as possible Pascal's scientific equipment and the bus that he invented later in his life (p. 177). The principal actors, Pierre Arditi as Pascal and Rita Forzano as his sister Jacqueline, were theater actors with little cinematic exposure. The actress who had played Socrates' wife, Xanthippe, reappears in this film as an accused witch, and Christian De Sica, the son of the director, plays her prosecutor.

6. Quoted from an unpublished RAI publicity handout.

7. Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , p. 191. All further references to this book will be found in the text.

8. As Andrea Ferendeles, who worked as an assistant director on the film, points out in a somewhat useful "diary" of the shooting, published in Filmcritica (no. 218 [September—October 1971], 354-61), the witchcraft trial, early on, is the only scene shot in individual cuts rather than with the long-take zoom "editing" (actually, there is at least one other—the debate with Descartes). She also makes the excellent point that the continuous movement of the actors is as much a part of the "zoom montage" effect as the movement of the lens and the camera.

9. "Rossellini in '76," Sight & Sound , 45, no. 2 (Spring 1976), 90.

10. When accused by Jacques Grant of taking Pascal's side over Descartes' in this debate, Rossellini responded with one of his most tortured attempts to maintain his doctrine of objectivity:

"No, no! I just don't like Descartes very much, that's all. I am simply reproducing a conflict that existed between them. Perhaps I was more impressed by one or the continue

other, but I try to be as objective as possible, since, a priori, you can't be. Now, maybe it's you who is on Pascal's side rather than Descartes', and so if my film helped you to make up your mind, that means that it was useful for something! I only present the givens, I don't take sides" ( Cinéma [Paris], no. 206 [February 1976], 63).

11. This reticence can also be noticed in the scene in which Pascal reads aloud what he has written concerning a mystical experience he has just had. As Louis Norman has pointed out, "Restaging the recording of the vision, instead of attempting to portray the vision itself, retains intact the sensory mystery of Pascal's experience while rendering the essence of its effect" ("Rossellini's Case Histories for Moral Education," Film Quarterly , 27, no. 4 [Summer 1974], 14).

12. Aprà, however, in the recent filmography published in Le Cinéma révélé Roberto Rossellini , as well as Scaffa and Rossellini, claim the two episodes were shown a week apart.

34— Augustine of Hippo (1972)

1. The entire interview was transcribed and translated in Take One , 4, no. 3 (May 1974), from which these quotations are taken.

2. Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , p. 245. All further page references to this script will be included in the text.

3. An important difference in this film, however, lies in its greater emphasis on the relation between the past and the present. Up to this point Rossellini has always avoided this kind of social commentary disguised as history (witness the controversies over Viva l'Italia! and Vanina Vanini when his collaborators wanted to make more obvious connections with modern problems). Here, however, he stresses the similarity between the sense of loss and confusion surrounding the collapse of the Roman empire and our own confusion in the twentieth century. The intention is laudable, perhaps, but it does not work very well in this film, where the connections seem forced and obvious, and end up being little more than annoying anachronisms. There is one particularly forceful scene, for example, that takes place in a barbershop patronized by transvestites; no doubt the scene is historically "accurate" (shooting was apparently held up for hours until it could be established exactly how the men of the period shaved), but we are also meant to take it as a demonstration of Augustine's contention that Rome is collapsing of its own corruption and loss of its former "manly" virtues. When the script describes young men and women who are dressed and made up "without being distinguished sexually," causing an old man to complain that one can no longer tell the men from the women, we are not sure whether Rossellini is teaching us history or criticizing present-day mores.

4. The other locations were the paleo-Christian basilica of Castle S. Elia, built by Saint Benedict on top of an ancient temple to Diana, and the church of Santa Costanza in Rome.

5. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 98.

6. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 101.

7. Village Voice , May 10, 1973, 89.

8. Augustine of Hippo was aired, once again, in two one-hour parts, on successive Wednesdays, October 15 and November 1, 1972, at 9:30 P.M. on channel 1. The programmers at the RAI obviously had little confidence in the film, and they put it up against two American movies guaranteed to pull a much larger audience. Augustine was watched by 4.1 and 3.7 million spectators, respectively, while the American films garnered 15.8 and 14.3 million. The "enjoyment index" for Rossellini's film was a surprisingly high 69 and 65, but its competition received 75 and 79 (Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 102).

35— The Age of the Medici (1972)

1. As usual, Rossellini used largely nonprofessional actors in most of the roles. The actor who played Cosimo, like Rossellini's Pascal and Socrates, was chosen for his resemblance to existing portraits, and his unhandsome, flat features remind one of the uninflected face of Louis XIV. The actor who played Alberti (Virginio Gazzolo) played Bishop Alipio, Augustine's colleague, in the director's previous film. Locations were chosen with great care, and many scenes were filmed in Florence and its hilltop neighbor, Fiesole, and in small villages like Gubbio and San Gimignano in Tuscany, which have largely kept their medieval aspect. Some scenes were filmed on location at the Medici palace at Careggi, outside Florence, which again served the purpose of ontologically bridging the past and the present.

Financing was even more precarious than usual because the French ORTF, which had originally agreed to act as cosponsor, dropped out. Interestingly, the film was shot in English, as Rossellini still entertained hopes of breaking into the American television market, and he was aware of American sensitivity to the lack of lip synchronization. The effect must have been rather comic, as many of the actors did not know a single word of English and thus often had no idea what they were saying. The voices were dubbed later, and thus the "original" version of this film, if that term has any meaning in the Italian industry, is in English. Unfortunately, the timing of the phrases in English is rather awkward, even beyond the slow, painfully measured cadences of standard Rossellinian dialogue. The mixture of British and American voices in the dubbing presents an additional unnecessary problem. As might be expected, the film has never been shown on American television.

2. The tension between the two eras is nicely thematized late in the film when the Byzantine hierarchy comes to Florence for the conference on reunifying the Church. The splendor of their apparel dazzles the men of the early Florentine Renaissance, and Ciriaco, Alberti's curial colleague, compares the color and decoration of these costumes to those in the early medieval mosaics at Ravenna. Alberti is proud, however, that the Florentines have surpassed this era.

3. Roberto Rossellini, Utopia, autopsia 10 10 (Rome: Armando, 1974), pp. 86-87.

4. Rossellini was apparently unable to film the actual frescoes, probably because of their fragility and the smallness of the chapel, and his reconstruction of them is a disappointment. The copy is second-rate, and the Rendering of the Tribute Money has been moved from the top row to the bottom row, presumably so that it could be more easily seen.

5. Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , p. 296. All further references to this book will be found in the text.

6. Interview in Cinéma [Paris], no. 206 (February 1976), 70.

7. Samuel Edgerton, The Renaissance Re-Discovery of Linear Perspective (New York: Basic Books, 1975), p. 39. It must also be remembered, however, that these ideas were not completely new with the Renaissance. Thus, Michael Baxandall quotes Dante's view that "geometry is lily-white, unspotted by error and most certain, both in itself and in its handmaid, whose name is Perspective" ( Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy [New York: Oxford University Press, 1972], p. 124).

8. It should also be kept in mind that linear perspective was not consciously adopted by Renaissance artists because it was more "realistic" or "objective," but because it was another manifestation, like mathematics, of the perfection of God and the perfectability of man. As Edgerton puts it: Renaissance artists used perspective "because it gave their depicted scenes a sense of harmony with natural law, thereby underscoring man's moral responsibility within God's geometrically ordered universe" (p. 56).

9. Stephen Heath, Questions of Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981), pp. 29-31. The quotation from Francastel comes from Études de sociologie de l'art (Paris: Denoël, 1970), pp. 136-37.

10. Michael Silverman, "Rossellini and Leon Battista Alberti: The Centering Power of Perspective," Yale Italian Studies , 1, no. 1 (Winter 1977), 141.

11. Another reason for this technique, of course, is that Rossellini is pointing to his visual sources, as we have seen him do in so many other films. Thus his incredibly static characters are often arranged in fixed compositions that suggest specific paintings and frescoes of the period. (One scene of Cosimo with his back to the camera, for example, recalls the back of the figure in Masaccio's Rendering of the Tribute Money .) At other times the characters stand in front of seemingly empty landscapes or cityscapes in paintings and frescoes, as though Rossellini were suggesting the historical and ontological provenance of these characters. Figures continually present themselves in the most stylized manner to the camera, thus making us more aware of the process of filmmaking and its relation to other forms of visual representation, especially in conjunction with the dedramatized acting and the antidramatic plot.

12. The question of self-reflexivity is greatly complicated by the fact that this is one of the sloppiest films Rossellini ever made. Thus, the editing is sometimes careless, as for example when, after we watch a speaker from his side, the reverse shot includes his back, producing a disconcerting, almost jump-cut, effect. At other times the framing is inattentive, as when one character, totally obscured by a tree, speaks for a few seconds in the scene of the debate concerning Latin and the vernacular. Other awkward spots, clearly unintentional, foreground the film's artificiality, as for example when the tax man looks directly at the camera during his scene. At other moments, some of the actors can be clearly seen looking beyond their interlocutors at some out-of-camera-range cue cards. During the sermon in the church, the bodies are obviously rearranging themselves in front of the camera as it dollies back. Throughout the film, in fact, there is a great deal of distracting body movement that seems motivated only by the need for greater visual variety. The presumably unintentional self-reflexivity of these moments is augmented by others that seem more conscious. Thus, the camera at times seems to be intensely, almost perversely, static, and at other times, nervous, continually zooming in and out. In the scene of Cosimo's party, the effect is very stylized, as the camera stays absolutely still watching one group of speakers after another move in front of it to say what they have to say. (In many of the other films, the camera and zoom will themselves move to discover the different groups, but the effect, in any case, is to underline the artificiality of the whole process.) The acting, as well, is stiff and stylized, almost more than in any other of the didactic films, and there is even less concern than usual to convince the viewer that "you are there."

13. Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 109.

36— Cartesius (1974)

1. Scaffa and Rossellini, Roberto Rossellini , p. 387. All further page references to this script will be included in the text.

2. The director himself rarely spoke of the film in interviews, probably because of its unavailability, and his only words on the subject are found in a Paris-Match article published some seven or eight years before the film was actually made. There he says that he first got the idea for it from reading Benedetto Croce's book on Giambattista Vico, a violently anti-Cartesian Neapolitan Jesuit, and this made him want to show "the prodigious period of disorder into which Descartes was born" ("Louis XIV à la loupe," interview in Paris-Match [October 8, 1966], pp. 96-98).

3. Formally, this film is of a piece with the others of the grand historical project: it uses electronic music to underline the moments of intellectual insight, and tables organize space, as do the characters with their backs to the camera in the foreground, creating a three-dimensional space into which the zoom can penetrate like a dolly. The sets and costumes are magnificent—one continues to wonder how Rossellini was able to achieve such rich production values on such a limited budget—and several scenes, such as the autopsy in the grand hall of the university and the scene in which the dead are carried off by men wearing grotesque bird masks, are radiant and memorable.

Interestingly, for a film with so many different locations in France and Holland, all of it was shot near Rome. The actor playing Descartes (Ugo Cardea) was, once again, chosen for his physical resemblance to contemporary portraits of the philosopher; Rossellini's sister told me, however, that Cardea was quite disappointing to the director, because he "didn't have it."

4. Cited in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 114. The quotation in the text, however, has been taken from the original English version ( Only One Earth [New York: Norton, 1972], p. 14).

37— Anno Uno (1974)

1. Interview with the author, Rome, June 1979. Another film made by Rossellini around this time was a two-hour documentary called "The World Population." According to Adriano Aprà (cf. his filmography in Le Cinéma révélé ), it was made for UNESCO, projected during a world conference on population held at Bucharest in 1974, and subsequently distributed throughout the world by the United Nations. Apart from these meager facts, however, little is known about this film.

2. Variety , March 6, 1974, 6.

3. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 118.

4. "Rossellini in '76," 89.

5. At one point De Gasperi goes to an impoverished southern village called Matera, which, as the British critic Geoffrey Nowell-Smith has ironically noted, served perfectly as a location for the film in 1974, since conditions had not gotten the slightest bit better in the almost thirty years since De Gasperi's visit ( Monthly Film Bulletin , no. 563, quoted in BFI dossier on Rossellini).

6. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 120.

7. Interview with the author, 1979.

8. Claude Beylie, "Brève rencontre avec Roberto Rossellini," Écran 75 , no. 34 (March 1975), 18.

9. Quoted in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , p. 119.

10. Quoted in Beppe Cereda, "La sfida della coerenza e della novità," Rivista del cinematografo , 48, no. 1 (January 1975), 19.

11. Beppe Cereda's favorable article, "La sfida della coerenza e della novità," stresses Rossellini's attempt to establish a new relation with his audience and argues that, if the film were thought of as dramatized "discourse" rather than a drama with too many words in it, opinion would be much more favorably disposed toward it. For him, the film offers a denuded image, "a word reflected upon rather than participated in (read rather than said)" (p. 20). The negative article, "L'Educazione regressiva di Rossellini," by Aldo Bernardini, attacks the film for its exclusive focus on De Gasperi and the Christian Democrats, because this results in a "necessarily simplified, schematic, and partial vision, in which De Gasperi is presented as the 'deux ex machina' of the situation, the man of Providence who stands above parties, the enlightened politician who fights for the unity of the democratic parties, for a united Europe" (p. 23). Bernardini goes on to complain that De Gasperi's words are given an absolute value, especially his famous aphorisms, which remove them from the flux of their historical context. Thus, in spite of the film's many fine moments, "It seems to be a regressive film, the fruit of a paternalistic and unidirectional educational choice on the part of the author" (p. 24).

12. R. Alemanno review, Cinema nuovo , no. 233 (January—February 1975), 50, 51. In the following issue, no. 234 (April 1975), an article by Vittorio Gorresio, which had originally appeared in La Stampa , was reprinted. In it, Gorresio attacks Rossellini's portraits of all the individual characters of Italian politics, including Amendola, Nenni, and Fanfani, and the film's tendency to give all the wisdom to De Gasperi in this "group of fools" (p. 101).

13. Gallagher, "Roberto Rossellini and Historical Neo-Realism," 48.

14. Sandro Zambetti, "Operazione De Gasperi: Sullo schermo l'immagine istituzionale dell'azienda DC," Cineforum , no. 140 (January 1975), 17-28. All further page references to this article are included in the text.

15. Zambetti also quotes an interesting reply of Rossellini to Callisto Cosulich, a former collaborator, which appeared during a debate in Paese Sera . Rossellini talks about bringing Catholics and Marxists together again (a theme that goes all the way back to Open City , of course). This could not happen in the past, however, because of all the mutual distrust.

How can we get beyond the neurotic to the rational? As always, by knowing and accumulating data. In the film Anno uno it is clearly said that the beginning of reconstruction came about through the collaboration of all the political parties: Christian Democrats, Communists, Socialists, actionists, liberals, etc. The debate and the political struggle took place in a certain way, but the history of those years shows us that what people are afraid might come from the "historic compromise" today did not happen at all. Well?

Zambetti takes these remarks, perhaps unfairly, to mean that Rossellini is suggesting that the Communists should be brought in to help us out of our current mess, and if they go too far, we can always kick them out again, as we did before (p. 28).

38— The Messiah (1975)

1. Though Lino Miccichè is right to point out that to like The Messiah but not Anno uno is a contradiction because the "nonideological" method of both films is the same. ( Il cinema italiano degli anni '70 [Venice: Marsilio Editore, 1980], p. 246.)

2. Unfortunately, the first screening of the film for the Italian press, on October 25, 1975, was an audiovisual disaster, and most of the subsequent criticism of the film seems to have stemmed from this original screening. According to reports, the film appeared to be completely colorless, much too dark, and poorly photographed in general. The film must have been reprinted subsequently, for the copy I have seen (owned by the Rossellini family) is none of these things and is, in fact, visually superb.

3. Interview with the author.

4. "Save 'The Messiah,'" Take One , 6, no. 7 (1978), 2.

5. Interview, Filmcritica , nos. 264-65 (May—June 1976). Reprinted in R.R.: Roberto Rossellini , ed. Edoardo Bruno, p. 126.

6. Interview, Écran 77 , no. 60 (July 15, 1977), 47.

7. Quoted in a short review of the film by Françoise Maupin in La Revue du cinéma , no. 305 (April 1976), 96.

8. Claudio Sorgi, "Il Messia," Rivista del cinematografo (December 1975), 543. Sorgi's article is invaluable as well because it carefully sorts out Rossellini's sources and his modifications of them. His conclusion is that "it is certain no film on the Gospels has ever reflected such up-to-date lines of biblical research," especially since, according to Sorgi, The Messiah follows the theory known as "Formgeschichtliche Methode," which holds that the Gospels were born as oral tradition between the time of Christ's death and their actual writing.

Sorgi believes that the principal source for the film is the Gospel of Mark, mainly because of its popularism and its accent on the mystery of messianism, but "the fundamental theory of the film derives from Matthew: Jesus seen as the realization of promises and the continuous correlation between what Jesus does and says and what was predicted of him" (p. 543). Among the many small shifts that Sorgi catalogs are the words instituting the Eucharist, which John does not report, and which Rossellini borrows from Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 11. The colloquy between John the Baptist and Herod concerning power, freedom, and poverty is invented; Sorgi suggests that it may have come from Acts of the Martyrs , a book written during the early Christian period. Other critics have thought it comes from a suggestion in Mark 6:20. Rossellini has also put Psalm 86 in Judas' mouth (as he remarked in an interview), and, as mentioned, redistributed some of Christ's speeches among other characters.

9. I am indebted to Gridley McKim-Smith for this suggestion.

10. Though Rossellini did maintain, unconvincingly, in one interview that he was only later told that Michelangelo's Mary was younger (interview in Amis du film et de la télévision [Brussels], no. 239 [April 1976], 14).

11. The art historian Charles DeTolnay, in The Youth of Michelangelo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1943), p. 92, tells us:

This youthfulness [of the Madonna] is said to have been criticized by Michelangelo's contemporaries. Michelangelo is supposed to have defended himself with the argument that a pure woman preserves her youth longer and he wished to symbolize the chastity of the Madonna. Indeed, according to Neo-Platonism, the body is the image of the soul and participates in its inner qualities. The youthfulness of the Virgin in Michelangelo's Pietà thus expresses a moral as well as a physical beauty.

Frederick Hartt, in Michelangelo's Three Pietàs (New York: Abrams, 1976), points out that most Pietàs of the period showed Mary as middle-aged. Perugino had painted her as about the same age as Christ, but Michelangelo went even further.

12. Jacques Grant, Cinema 76 , no. 208 (April 1976), 117.

13. Mireille Latil Le Dantec, "Le Messie," Cinématographe , no. 18 (April-May 1976), 38. I think Latil Le Dantec is also right to see in Mary an embodiment of Rossellini's aesthetic, for she is often seen to be looking at Christ from a hidden place.

14. Jacques Grant, Cinema 76 , no. 206 (February 1976), 68.

15. "Rossellini in '76," 90.

16. Interview in Avvenire (October 26, 1975); quoted in Sorgi, "Il Messia," 541.

17. Miccichè, Cinema italiano degli anni '70 , p. 248.

39— Final Projects (1975–77)

1. "Introduzione al 'Marx'," Filmcritica , nos. 289-90 (November-December 1978), 366. All further page references to this article appear in the text.

2. Interview with Giovanna Di Bernardo, "Roberto Rossellini Talks About Marx, Freud, and Jesus," Cinéaste , 8, no. 1 (1977), 33.

3. The comet that appears in the first scene of the screenplay, as the young Marx is about to go off to the university, is defended at great length by Rossellini in the Écran interview. His fear was that it would seem too spectacular, too grand a "portent" of things to come, but decided to include it anyway. Ironically, Rossellini told an interviewer that he would not include in his film the fact that Marx slept with his maid when his wife was sick because it was "so irrelevant": what counted were Marx's ideas. ( R.R.: Roberto Rossellini , ed. Bruno, p. 131).

4. This list comes from Bendicò, "L'abbecedario di Rossellini," 362.

5. Interview, Écran 77 , no. 60 (July 15, 1977), 46.

6. Quoted in Virgilio Fantuzzi, "L'ultimo Rossellini," Rivista del cinematografo , 50, nos. 7-8 (July-August 1977), 292.

7. Ibid.

8. The unfinished article is included in Trasatti, Rossellini e la televisione , pp. 219-23.


Preferred Citation: Brunette, Peter. Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.