Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and effectively launched the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images that encompass both tragedy and hope.
COLLECTOR'S SET INCLUDES:
Italy • 1945 • 100 minutes • Black and White • 1.33:1 • German, Italian
This was Roberto Rossellini’s revelation, a harrowing drama about the Nazi occupation of Rome and the brave few who struggled against it. Though told with a bit more melodramatic flair than the other films that would form this trilogy and starring well-known actors—Aldo Fabrizi as a priest helping the partisan cause and Anna Magnani in her breakthrough role as the fiancée of a resistance member—Rome Open City (Roma città aperta) is a shockingly authentic experience, conceived and directed amid the ruin of World War II, with immediacy in every frame. Marking a watershed moment in Italian cinema, this galvanic work was an international sensation, garnering awards around the globe and leaving the beginnings of a new film movement in its wake.
Italy, Estonia • 1946 • 120 minutes • Black and White • 1.33:1 • English, German, Italian
Roberto Rossellini’s follow-up to his breakout Rome Open City was the ambitious, enormously moving Paisan (Paisà), which consists of six episodes set during the liberation of Italy at the end of World War II, taking place across the country, from Sicily to the northern Po Valley. With its documentary-like visuals and its intermingled cast of actors and nonprofessionals, Italians and their American liberators, this look at the struggles of different cultures to communicate and of people to live their everyday lives in extreme circumstances is equal parts charming sentiment and vivid reality. A long-missing treasure of Italian cinema, Paisan is available here for the first time in its full original release version.
Germany, Italy • 1948 • 71 minutes • Black and White • 1.33:1 • German
The concluding chapter of Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy is the most devastating, a portrait of an obliterated Berlin shown through the eyes of a twelve-year-old boy. Living in a bombed-out apartment building with a sick father and two older siblings, young Edmund is mostly left to wander unsupervised, getting ensnared in the black-market schemes of a group of teenagers and coming under the nefarious influence of a Nazi-sympathizing ex-teacher. Germany Year Zero (Deutschland im Jahre Null) is a daring, gut-wrenching look at the consequences of fascism, for society and the individual.
SPECIAL EDITION THREE-DISC SET:
- New, restored high-definition digital transfers
- Video introductions by Roberto Rossellini to all three films, from 1963
- New video interviews with Rossellini scholar Adriano Aprà, Rossellini’s friend and confessor Father Virgilio Fantuzzi, and filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
- Audio commentary on Rome Open City by film scholar Peter Bondanella
- Once Upon a Time . . . “Rome Open City,” a 2006 documentary on the making of this historic film, featuring rare archival material and footage of Anna Magnani, Federico Fellini,
Ingrid Bergman, and many others
- Rossellini and the City, a new documentary on Rossellini’s use of the urban landscape in these films, by film scholar Mark Shiel
- Excerpts from rarely seen videotaped discussions Rossellini had with faculty and students at Rice University in 1970 about his craft
- Into the Future, a new visual essay about the War Trilogy by film scholar Tag Gallagher
- Roberto Rossellini, a 2001 documentary by Carlo Lizzani, assistant director on Germany Year Zero, tracing Rossellini’s career through archival footage and interviews with family members and collaborators, with tributes by filmmakers François Truffaut and Martin Scorsese
- Letters from the Front: Carlo Lizzani on “Germany Year Zero,” a 1987 podium discussion with Lizzani
- Italian credits and prologue for Germany Year Zero
- New illustrated essay by film scholar Thomas Meder on Rossellini’s relationship with his mistress Roswitha Schmidt
- New and improved English subtitle translations
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by director Irene Bignardi and film scholars Colin McCabe, James Quandt, and Jonathan Rosenbaum