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"Your review of the Region 2 DVD release of ROME, OPEN CITY (S&S JULY) fails to note some significant differences between it and the previously available VHS edition on Connoisseur.
This DVD release is remarkably similar to that currently available in the US, with all its faults. Its opening title card is the US-inspired OPEN CITY, not ROMA CITTA APERTA, nor is it laid over Rossellini's famous vista of the city with the prominent dome of St. Peter's and Rossellini's dedication. This is no mere detail, as the long shot of the city acts as a bookending device and gives weight to the resigned march of the urchins back to the city at the end of the picture. Moreover, a significant cut is made during Manfredi's torture scene which is present in the original European print as reproduced on the Connoisseur video. This cut significantly undermines the power of the sequence and its redemptive ending.
In short, this new release does not do justice to Rossellini's original. Until such time as a more complete original version is available, your readers should be aware of flawed attempts to present this great film's release on DVD as definitive."
"Roma, citta aperta" is seen as the birth of neorealist cinema - a form characterised by its humanism and attempt to deliver social reality, using authentic locations, handheld cameras, available light, and 'natural' performances from a largely amateur cast. It was the first in Rosselini's trilogy ("Rome, Open City", "Paisàn", and "Germany, Year Zero") exploring the effects of war, and is widely regarded both as his masterpiece and as a pillar of post-War European cinema.
Conceived and begun during the German occupation, while Rossellini was himself in hiding, "Rome, Open City" is set in Nazi-ruled Italy. It takes the camera out of the studio and onto the streets, capturing graphic, near documentary images and transporting the viewer into a world which is apparently real. There is none of Hollywood's glitz and glamour, here, but raw life and bitter social commentary.
German soldiers search for a resistance leader who had fought the Fascists in Spain and who has gone on to organise the underground in Italy. Lest we see this as a tale of good versus evil, Rossellini presents a naturalistic world of Rome, rife with black marketeers, food shortages, exploitation and manipulation, collaboration, and a priest who is evidently not enamoured of the Fascists and who is prepared to work with the communist resistance to defeat what he perceives as the greater evil.Read more ›