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


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.


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