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Rome, Open City ( ) is a 1945 Italian war drama film, directed by Roberto Rossellini. The picture features Aldo Fabrizi, Anna Magnani and Marcello Pagliero, and is set in Romemarker during the Nazi occupation in 1944. The film won several awards at various film festivals and was also nominated for an Academy Award.


As German soldiers march through town, Giorgio Manfredi eludes them by jumping across the rooftops. A priest, Don Pietro Pellegrini, helps the resistance by transmitting messages and money. Don Pietro is scheduled to officiate Pina's wedding. Francesco, her betrothed, is not very religious, but would rather be married by a nationalist priest than a fascist official. Her son, Marcello, and his friends have a small role in the resistance. Pina's sister befriends Marina, Giorgio's former girlfriend, who betrays the resistance in exchange for drugs, fur coats, and other creature comforts.

The Gestapomarker commander in the city, with the help of the Italian police commissioner, captures Giorgio and the priest, and interrogates Giorgio violently. They attempt to use Pietro's religious beliefs to convince him to betray his cause, citing that he allies himself with atheists. Pietro responds that anyone who strives to help others is on that path of God whether they believe in him or not. They then force Pietro to watch as Giorgio is tortured to death. When Don Pietro still refuses to crack, he is executed.


Scene where Pina (Anna Magnani) is shot while running after Francesco.
In August 1944, just two months after the Allies had forced the Germans to evacuate Rome, Rossellini, Federico Fellini, and Sergio Amidei began working on the script for the film. The devastation that was the result of the war surrounded them as they wrote the script. Shooting for the film began in January 1945. Rossellini relied on traditional devices of melodrama, such as identification of the film's central characters and a clear distinction between good and evil characters. Four interior sets were constructed for the most important locations of the film.

It is believed that the actual film stock was put together out of many different disparate bits, giving the film its iconic documentary or newsreel style. But, when the Cineteca Nazionale restored the print in 1995, "the original negative consisted of just three different types of film: Ferrania C6 for all the outdoor scenes and the more sensitive Agfa Super Pan and Agfa Ultra Rapid for the interiors." The previously unexplained changes in image brightness and consistency are now blamed on "poor processing (variable development times, insufficient agitation in the developing bath and insufficient fixing).


  • Aldo Fabrizi as Don Pietro Pellegrini
  • Anna Magnani as Pina
  • Marcello Pagliero as Giorgio Manfredi, alias Luigi Ferraris
  • Vito Annicchiarico as Marcello, Pina's son
  • Nando Bruno as Agostino, the Sexton
  • Harry Feist as Major Bergmann
  • Giovanna Galletti as Ingrid
  • Francesco Grandjacquet as Francesco
  • Eduardo Passarelli as neighborhood Police Sergeant
  • Maria Michi as Marina Mari
  • Carla Rovere as Lauretta, Pina's sister
  • Carlo Sindici as Police Commissioner
  • Joop van Hulzen as Captain Hartmann
  • Ákos Tolnay as Austrian deserter

Critical response

Since early on, this film has been considered a quintessential example of neorealism in film, so much so that together with Paisà and Germania anno zero it is called Rossellini's "Neorealist Trilogy." Robert Burgoyne called it "the perfect exemplar of this mode of cinematic creation [neorealism] whose established critical definition was given by André Bazin." More recent scholarship points out that this film is actually less neo-realist and rather melodramatic.Critics debate whether the pending marriage of the Catholic Pina and the communist Francesco really "acknowledges the working partnership of communists and Catholics in the actual historical resistance."

Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, gave the film a positive review, and wrote, "Yet the total effect of the picture is a sense of real experience, achieved as much by the performance as by the writing and direction. The outstanding performance is that of Aldo Fabrizi as the priest, who embraces with dignity and humanity a most demanding part. Marcello Pagliero is excellent too, as the resistance leader, and Anna Magnani brings humility and sincerity to the role of the woman who is killed. The remaining cast is unqualifiedly fine, with the exception of Harry Feist in the role of the German commander. His elegant arrogance is a bit too vicious—but that may be easily understood."


The film opened in Italy on September 27, 1945, with the war damage to Rome not yet repaired. The United Statesmarker premiere followed on February 25, 1946 in New Yorkmarker. The American release was censored, resulting in a cut of about 15 minutes. The story of the film's journey from Italy to the United States is recounted in Federico Fellini's autobiographical essay, "Sweet Beginnings." Rod Geiger, a U.S. Army private stationed in Rome, met Rossellini and Fellini as they were working on the movie. According to Fellini's essay, Geiger was "a 'half-drunk' soldier who stumbled (literally as well as figuratively) onto the set of Open City. [He] misrepresented himself as an American producer when actually he 'was a nobody and didn't have a dime.'"[148865] Nonetheless, Geiger ended up with a reel of Open City, brought it back to the U.S. in his barracks bags, and managed to get the film released in theaters.

Fellini's account of Geiger's involvement in the film was the subject of a defamation lawsuit brought by Geiger against Fellini.[148866] The film was banned in several countries. For example, West Germanymarker banned the picture from 1951-1960. In Argentinamarker, the film was inexplicably withdrawn in 1947 following an anonymous government order.




  1. Forgacs, David. Rome Open City. London: BFI, 2000.
  2. Burgoyne, Robert. "The Imaginary And The Neo-Real," Enclitic 3 1 (Spring, 1979) Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Hillman, Roger. "The Penumbra of Neorealism," Forum for Modern Language Studies, 38 2 (2002): 221 - 223.
  4. Shiel, Mark. Italian Neorealism: Rebuilding the Cinematic City. New York: Wallflower Press (2006): 51.
  5. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "How Italy Resisted," February 26, 1946. Last accessed: December 20, 2007.
  6. Warren, Virginia Lee. The New York Times, "Delayed Censorship," December 7, 1947.

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