Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Neo-Realism Redux


Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy (Criterion) comprises the three films that put the Italian director on the neo-realist map immediately after World War II: Rome Open City, Paisan and Germany Year Zero. With dramatic immediacy and (at the time) a unique quasi-documentary style, Rossellini’s classic trio takes the pulse of his ravaged homeland at the end of the war and during the initial rebuilding years; even through their obvious deficiencies (wooden acting and stilted dialogue), they remain unforgettable portraits of the triumph of humanity even in the worst of times. Even by Criterion’s high standards, this boxed set is indispensible: the films have never looked better—warts and all—and the extras place them in the context of both Rossellini’s career and film history. Included are Rossellini’s own introductions to all three films; an audio commentary by Peter Bondanella on Rome Open City; two excellent documentaries on the director, both of which feature interviews with colleagues (Scorsese, Truffaut, Taviani brothers) and family (daughter Isabella Rossellini); and visual essays and additional featurettes.

originally posted on timessquare.com

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