Roberto Rossellini

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Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Italy, May 8, 1906 – Rome, Italy, June 3, 1977) was an Italian filmmaker. Rossellini is one of the most important directors of Italian neo-realism, to which he contributed films such as Rome, an open city.

Roberto_Rossellini’s Biography


Born into a bourgeois family in Rome, his father built the first Roman cinema (a theater where movies could be shown), guaranteeing Roberto the free pass of unlimited admission; Roberto began to frequent the cinema at an early age. When his father died, Roberto worked as a sound technician in films, and for some time he was able to work in several fields related to the creation of films, gaining competition in each one.

In 1938 he shot his first short film, Prélude à l’aprés-midi d’un faune, after which he attended Goffredo Alessandrini in the filming of Luciano Serra pilota, one of the Italian films of the first half of the century with more success. In 1940 he attended Francesco De Santis in Uomini sul Fondo. His first feature film, La Nave Bianca (1941) is the first of the so-called “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). At this stage corresponds his friendship and cooperation with Federico Fellini and Aldo Fabrizi.


When the fascist regime ended in 1945, only two months after the liberation of Rome, Rossellini was already preparing Rome, an open city (Roma città aperta, with Fellini assisting in the script and Fabrizi in the role of the priest), He produced himself, obtaining most of the money from credits and loans. This drama was an immediate success. Rossellini thus began his “Neorealist Trilogy”, whose second film was Paisà (Comrade, 1946), filmed entirely with non-professional actors, and the third Germania anno zero (1947), sponsored by a French producer and directed in the French sector of Berlin .

He stated in an interview: “In order to really create the character one has in mind, it is necessary for the director to engage in a battle with the actor that usually ends up submitting to the actor’s wishes, as I do not want to waste my energies on a battle like this, I only use professional actors on rare occasions. ” It has been said that one of the reasons for his success was the fact that Rossellini rewrote the scripts according to the feelings and stories of his non-professional actors. Regional accents, dialects and costumes are seen in their films the way they really were.

After his “Neorealist Trilogy”, Rossellini produced two feature films that are now classified as transitional cinema: L’Amore (with Anna Magnani) and La macchina ammazzacattivi, showing reality and truth.

The muse Ingrid Bergman

In 1949 Rossellini receives a letter from Ingrid Bergman proposing to work with him and thus begins one of the best known love stories in the world of cinema, with Ingrid Bergman and Rossellini at the peak of his popularity and influence. They began to work together a year later in Stromboli terra di Dio (on the island of Stromboli, 1950, whose volcano erupted during filming, and in Europe ’51 (1951) .In 1954, Viaggio in Italia completed the call ” Ingrid Trilogy. “This last film has a great influence in France where it is recognized by Cahiers du Cinéma as one of the stylistic origins of the Nouvelle Vague.

This relationship caused a great scandal in some countries (Bergman and Rossellini were married before they met); the scandal intensified when they started having children (one of which is Isabella Rossellini).

Step to television

In 1965, Rossellini decice his march of cinema to television affirming that the latter, being a cold medium and aimed at a mass audience could improve communication with the spectator of the cinema, considered regressive. He compared the film to the matrix because it was too protective of the viewer. Think of television as a teaching medium, capable of communicating history and transmitting culture more effectively than school and books.

He began his encyclopedic project with geography and then went on to history: it was essential for Rossellini because it explains our being, our past, present and future. Man is made in history. Your work for television can be divided into:

1. Portraits of characters (Socrates, Descartes, Pascal, Augustine of Hippo, Louis XIV)

2. The period portraits (The Age of Cosimo de Medici, Acts of the Apostles).

Vintage portraits differ from the first, because they require much more time and are more specific, while portraits of characters follow an idea. With the exception of Sócrates and Cosimo the trajectory of the personages takes place in a period of 20-30 years.

His television films can be considered as part of an encyclopedic project, as if the films were part of the same work. The seizure of power by Louis XIV is the only one of the films of television projected in the cinemas.

More Facts about Roberto Rossellini

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