ROME, OPEN CITY: AN INTRODUCTION AND REFLECTION



Still frame from Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City), 1945.


December 2021
Ryan Fatica

The following text was adapted from an introductory lecture given at a recent film screening in Tucson, Arizona. The author is a non-expert endeavoring to explore new terrain. The text is intended to provide a basic introduction to the film and its era for those not well-versed in film history as well as commentary on its significance for our lives. It is the most recent of a series of lectures and salons hosted by a collective of proletarian auto-didacts calling themselves Factory Girls Productions.  
 

Introduction

We are a generation raised by television and addicted to screens. My childhood in the 80’s and 90’s was dominated by Nickelodeon programming and a constant stream of high budget Hollywood movies that together helped teach how to live a human life. The script writers of the TV and film industries during that era were my unacknowledged mentors and spiritual advisors, providing guidance, solace, escape. Codes of conduct, affect, dress, morality and relationship models all flowed, punctuated by advertising, from images on the screen.

Today, cinema is dominated by super hero comic book adaptations whose aggregated gross profit exceeds the GDP of some small countries. Meanwhile streaming services have replaced the television of my youth and in recent years have cut budgets while churning out an endless array of low cost movies and shows with B grade actors depicting lives only slightly less boring than our own.

A rational response to the condition we find ourselves in is to begin an exploration of this medium that has taken up so much of our lives. At a moment when cinema has been so thoroughly subsumed within systems of profit and seems so much more calibrated to distract us than enrich us, we confront it with a simple demand: justify yourself. We suspect that there may be more to visual media than a way to turn our brains off at the end of a long day, when we can neither rest nor go on, when we are lonely or bored and lack the creativity to imagine another solution. And so we subject film to interrogation—as always, proceeding with more questions than answers: What does film have to offer us and what do we want from it? What role has it played in our emotional rhythms and psychological patterns? Can it, like the best art, expand our vision beyond reasonable horizons? Can it explode the norms that police the corners of our imaginations? Can it destabilize the prisons we choose to live in? Can it make us go out of control?

Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City) was filmed in Rome in the wake of Nazi occupation and tells the story of Communist anti-Fascists fighting for their lives and their values in the most desperate of circumstances. Its protagonists manifest some of the values I hold most dear, from engaged resistance to evil to dreams of a life held in common. These stories are told through an innovative medium of realistic filmmaking—in which filmmakers endeavor to capture the grit and drama of real life and strip away the gloss and fantasy of Hollywood film. In this era (ours), in which escapism and nihilism are hegemonic in filmmaking, the dreams of these Communist fighters and the innovation of those who depicted them both provide a useful counterpoint from which to bring the emptiness of modern film into stark relief while exposing the potential for a greater depth beyond.

The self-described “factory girls” and “factory operatives” of Lowell, Massachusetts are again our guides in this exploration, as they so often are. At the height of the industrial revolution, they formed a union and printed a newspaper, the Voice of Industry, in which they criticized the loss of autonomy over their own lives brought on by the increasing economic dependence upon the wage system. They demanded leisure time and direct worker ownership of the factories. One of their main complaints was that factory work left them no opportunity for intellectual activity. “The laboring man is obliged to exercise his physical faculties until they are exhausted and he is unfitted for study or reflection,” they wrote. In response, they formed study groups, organized lectures and created the groundwork for a working class intellectual culture.[1]

Those of us who have neither the time, the wealth, nor the stomach to attend college or grad school have to make our own space outside of the academy for learning, teaching, research, reflection and writing. Those who do have access to higher education know it often comes at the cost of critical thought, creativity and genuine human community. If we can map out an alternative, we can begin to contest the ground of intellectual production and enrich our own lives in the process.


The ‘Open’ City     

Rome, Open City takes place during the nine month period, beginning in 1943, during which Nazi Germany occupied Rome at the end of World War II. Although Italy and Germany were allies during the war, when Mussolini’s Fascist regime fell under the pressure of an impending defeat by Allied forces, the alliance between the two fascist countries collapsed. The Italian regime that took power after Mussolini’s defeat signed an armistice agreement with the Allies and shortly thereafter, Nazi troops stationed nearby marched on Rome, occupying the city.

The surrender agreement between Italy and Germany declared Rome an “open city,” an official designation indicating that the city was to be excluded from military operations, movements of troops and weaponry, and could not be the seat of a military government. None of these conditions were respected by Germany. The title of the film is interpreted by some critics as sarcastic, as the film depicts partisan operations against German military occupation amidst the rubble left behind by Allied bombing of the city.[9]

However, the “openness” of Rome took on a different meaning after the liberation of the city by Allied forces (or, rather, the city’s occupation by a different, more permissive force). Openness, in the sense of rupture or a blank slate for imagining potentiality, was palatable in the streets of newly-liberated Rome. It is from this moment of openness that Rome, Open City, and Italian neorealism, emerged.

As previously mentioned, Italo Calvino wrote his first novel during this period, which depicts in fictionalized form his own experience as a resistance fighter in the Maritime Alps during Nazi occupation. His novel is generally considered part of the neorealist genre that emerged at the time and in his 1964 preface to the novel, Calvino writes of the environment in which he and his comrades wrote:
 
“The literary explosion of those years in Italy was not so much an artistic phenomenon, more a physical, existential, collective need. We had come through the war , and those of us of the younger generation—who had just been old enough to be partisans—did not feel crushed or defeated or damaged by the experience; rather we were the victors,carried onward by the forward thrust of the battle which we had just won,the exclusive guardians of its legacy. This was not facile optimism, however, or gratuitous euphoria; quite the opposite: what we felt ourselves to be the heirs of, was a sense of life being something which could begin again from scratch, a feeling of public outrage against injustice, even a kind of flair for surviving danger and slaughter. But the accent we put on all this was one of almost provocative cheerfulness.”[10]

The end of the war initiated a renaissance of cultural production, as writers, artists and filmmakers sought to tell the stories repressed during the fascist era. But according to Calvino, this artistic outpouring reflected a larger cultural urge toward storytelling: 

“The rebirth of the freedom of speech manifested itself first and foremost in a craving to tell stories: in the trains that were starting to run again, crammed with people and bags of flour and drums of oil, every passenger would recount to complete strangers the adventures which had befallen him, as did everyone eating at the tables of the temporary soup-kitchens, every woman in the queues at the shops. The greyness of everyday life seemed something that belonged to another epoch; we existed in a multi-coloured world of stories.”[11]

Calvino and his contemporaries drew from this popular narrative outpouring and took along with events and circumstances, “a voice, a cadence, a facial gesture to accompany them…they had already assumed a style, a language, a tone of bravado, which relished harrowing detail and horrifying events.” In this sense, they were, as another critic put it, “textual elaborations” and “narratives built out of other narratives.”[12] As Calvino puts it, “That books always derive from other books is a truth which is only apparently in contradiction with the other truth, that books derive from practical existence and from our relations with other people.”[13]

Reflections upon this “openness” or as Calvino puts it, this sense of life beginning again from scratch, appears throughout the literature emerging from and about this period. Steven Ricci, in his book about Fascist cinema, juxtaposes the openness of the neorealism that emerged after the war to the fascist cinema that preceded it. “The unfolding of events in this new geography,” Ricci writes, “radically departs from the twin fascist historical model in which current events derive from the almost mythological Roman past in order to project a specifically fascist future. Moreover, the eventfulness of fascist time is replaced by the uncertainties, the instability and openness, of the post-fascist era.”[14]

    

Original Film Poster of Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City), 1945.



Italian Neorealism




Hitler and Mussolini as comically portrayed in Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, 1940


In general, periodization and critical labeling of artistic movements obscures as much as it illuminates. There isn’t complete agreement as to what neorealism is and critics argue over its precise parameters. For the most part, we needn’t concern ourselves with these squabbles. But perhaps the most substantive of these arguments involves the distinction between neorealism and the fascist cinema that preceded it.

Like other fascist leaders, Mussolini saw cinema as a way of spreading fascist ideas and celebrating a national culture rooted in a glorious past. Mussolini invested heavily in cinema. His son, Vittorio Mussolini, was the editor of the country’s main cinematic journal and the bearer of fascist ideas in the Italian film industry. The distinction between fascist cinema and anti-fascist neorealism is not strict and many of the aesthetic and technical elements attributed to neorealism emerged during the Italian fascist period and elsewhere.[2] And, more troubling, many of those involved in the emerging post-war movement had their roots in the Italian film industry dominated by the Italian fascist party. Roberto Rossellini, the director of Rome, Open City, directed three films, his “war trilogy” from 1941-1943, that were funded by the fascist government. Many of those who worked in the film industry under Mussolini later became part of the resistance movement.[3]

In an interview in 1976, Rossellini reflected upon his involvement in neorealist filmmaking as an effort to come to terms with the twenty years of fascist reign that preceded liberation. “We were coming out of the war, we were still full of confusion, debasement, fear. With neo-realism we looked at ourselves from the outside, stripped bare, almost rough, punishing with this roughness our ambitions as authors, leaving to things their authenticity and achieving by these means a use of cinema that was no longer personal, egotistical, but social.”[4]

After the war, a new epoch was born in Italy and a new kind of art emerged from the rupture, composed, as always, of preexisting techniques and styles. This new movement had some common characteristics: realistic treatment of its subject matter, popular setting (crowds, streets, working-class tenements), social content, historical actuality and political commitment. Films tended to be shot on site rather than in a studio, often with non-professional actors, untrained extras, low production budgets, lengthy takes, natural lighting, dialogue written in dialect, a predominance of medium and long shots, incorporation of newsreel or “documentary” style, partially improvised scripts and an aversion to heavy film editing. The content of films was the gritty reality of post-war Italy—poverty, social strife and the lives of ordinary people. The stars of the drama were the people of Italy who had live through fascism, war and occupation and continued to suffer under post-war poverty. Due to economic conditions and low production budgets, those working in the post-war film industry were sometimes not well paid and their lives were often not disconnected from their subject matter. Lamberto Maggiorani, the lead actor in one of the most famous Italian neorealist films,  Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thieves) (1948), was a factory worker.




Still frame from Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thieves), 1948.


Federico Fellini, a filmmaker who emerged from the Italian neorealist school and who co-wrote Rome, Open City, wrote: “neorealism is a way of seeing reality without prejudice, without conventions coming between it and myself—facing it without preconceptions, looking at it in an honest way—whatever reality is, not just social reality but all that there is within man.”[5] 

Cesare Zavattini, an Italian screenwriter, gave one of the clearest and most hyperbolic expressions of Italian neorealism in his essay “Some Ideas on the Cinema.”[6] It’s understood by some to be as close to a manifesto that exists for the movement. He wrote:

“We are now aware that reality is extremely rich. We simply had to learn how to look at it. The task of the artist—the neorealist artist at least—does not consist in bringing the audience to tears and indignation by means of transference, but, on the contrary, it consists in bringing them to reflect (and then, if you will, to stir up emotions and indignation) upon what they are doing and upon what others are doing; that is, to think about reality precisely as it is.”

Zavattini continuing: “I believe that the world goes on getting worse because we are not truly aware of reality. The most authentic position anyone can take up today is to engage himself in tracing the roots of this problem. The keenest necessity of our time is ‘social attention.’”

For Zavattini and others, neorealism’s focus on everyday characters represented an important break with the focus on myth, heroism, grandeur and the portrayal of physical strength and purity.
 
“I am bored to death with heroes more or less imaginary. I want to meet the real protagonist of everyday life, I want to see how he is made, if he has a moustache or not, if he is tall or short, I want to see his eyes, and I want to speak to him…I am against ‘exceptional’ personages. The time has come to tell the audience that they are the true protagonists of life…The world is composed of millions of people thinking of myths.”

Despite all the talk of neorealism’s focus on documenting reality without prejudice or adulteration, many film critics have pointed out that in fact most films of this era draw on timeless stereotypes such as clear depictions of good vs evil, melodrama and a classic tragicomic vision of human life. Film critic Peter Bondanella points out that neorealism in film emerged contemporaneously with neorealist fiction, such as Calvino’s first novel, Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno (The Path to the Spiders’ Nests), Carlo Levi’s fictionalized memoir Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli), and others, which rely on both symbol and myth to depict social realty and rely on unreliable or subjective narrators and other antinaturalistic narrative styles.[7] In other words, it’s reasonable to confront the talk of objectivity, of capturing reality in documentary fashion with a dose of skepticism while also appreciating the theoretical stance behind those expressions of artistic intent.

Zavattini, like many Leftist artists and intellectuals at the time, also saw neorealism as an alternative to both the stylistically extravagant and politically jingoist films of the fascist era and the expensive, imported Hollywood films that dominated the film industry at the time, both in Italy and in much of Europe. 
 
“The true neorealistic cinema is, of course, less expensive than the cinema at present,” Zavattini wrote. “Its subjects can be expressed cheaply, and it can dispense with capitalist resources on the present scale. The cinema has not yet found its morality, its necessity, its quality, precisely because it costs too much; being so conditioned, it is much less an art than it could be.”

Later, neorealism would be used by other filmmakers, such as Charles Burnett, a Black director and filmmaker in the US, to achieve similar ends—capturing stark images of daily life while maintaining a low enough budget to escape the control and restrictive standards of large production companies. Burnett’s film Killer of Sheep, made in 1978, depicts the life of mostly Black residents of Watts as they go about their daily lives. The film is composed of a series of vignettes without a consistent plot, narrative arc or standard character development.




Still frame from Killer of Sheep (1978)


The concern about producing films cheaply was in part created by the deluge of Hollywood films that entered Italy when the Allies took control of the film industry in the post-war period. This influx created a competition for theatrical space and made it hard for avant garde and experimental films to flourish. Film critic Steven Ricci describes “the two dominant authorial codes” in the Italian film industry as, “the fascist state and Hollywood cinema.” Following the war, the influx of Hollywood films jumped from 58 in 1939 to 369 a decade later in 1949, a year in which only 95 Italian films were released. Ricci writes, “this dominant return of Hollywoodian authorship is clearly part of another form of cultural dumping.”[8]

In the face of this pressure, people formed cinema clubs and film circles, screening experimental and non-traditional films in alternative venues. These screenings usually included efforts to alter the standard spectator role of the audience by incorporating discussions and debates before and after the film.


Rome, Open City

Rome, Open City is the classic example of Italian neorealism. As Jean-Luc Goddard wrote, “All roads lead back to Rome, Open City.” It was written and produced shortly after the end of the Nazi occupation, as German forces still controlled the northern parts of the country. In this way it is as much a film as a documentary glimpse of a moment in time and place. The film’s script relied heavily upon real events that took place during Nazi occupation that would have been still very much alive in the minds of those involved in its creation.

One of the film’s main characters, a Catholic priest who aids the resistance, is based upon the actual lives of two priests, Don Pietro Pappagallo and Don Guiseppe (Peppino) Morosini. Don Pappagallo forged documents for the partisans and was caught after being betrayed by Italian spies and was one of 335 people shot by the Germans on March 24, 1944. The massacre was a retaliation for a bombing carried out by partisan fighters the day before by the underground organization GAP (Gruppi di Azione Patriottica), the local branch of the partisan resistance birthed out of the Italian Communist Party.




Don Pietro, played by Aldo Fabbrizi.


Don Morosini, a former military chaplain, became a chaplain to Italian soldiers who had formed a clandestine military cell during Nazi occupation. He supplied weapons and ammunition to the partisans until his arrest. He was executed by an Italian firing squad on April 3, 1944. According to reports of his execution, he blessed and forgave the soldiers in the firing squad and when the subsequent volley of bullets failed to hit him (likely because the soldiers refused to aim at him) he was shot in the head by a German officer on scene.

Pina, the fiancée of one of the Communist partisans and mother of the main child character, is also based upon an historical figure. Maria Teresa Gullace, a 37-year-old pregnant mother of five, was gunned down in the Viale Giulio Cesare on March 2, 1944 by a German soldier. After Cesare’s husband was rounded up with other men and taken to a military barracks where they would be forced to work for the German war effort, Casare and other women staged a two-day protest outside the barracks. During the demonstration, a German soldier on a motorcycle shot Casare dead as she stretched out her hand to reach her husband through the prison bars. In response, members of the Communist partisan group GAP shot three militiamen at a demonstration later that afternoon.[15]

The Communist partisans depicted in the film are a composite of various real life radicals and some scenes in the film depict events lived or witnessed by the filmmakers the year before. The events in the film map close enough to historical events that some consider it a dramatized documentary.




Pina, played by Anna Maria Magnani.


Although neorealist films often use entirely non-professional actors and improvisation, two of the main actors in the film—Anna Magnani, who played Pina and Aldo Fabrizi, who played Don Pietro—were professional actors and the film was heavily scripted. According to popular lore, the film stock was purchased daily in short strips on the black market and developed without the daily rushes and sound synchronization standard in the industry. In fact, when the film was restored in 1995, it was revealed that the film was shot on just three different types of film, each calibrated to the technical needs of the lighting of the shot. Quoting film critic David Forgacs, “Most of the technical inadequacies in the negative (streaks, a cloudy veil over the whole film, changes in exposure) were the result of poor processing (variable development times, insufficient agitation in the developing bath and insufficient fixing) rather than poor photography.”[16]

During the filming, Rossellini famously told the cinematographer for the film, Ubaldo Arata, when he complained about inadequate light in the interior scenes, that he would have to make do with the light he had. Rossellini was experimenting with a certain inattention to standards of form such as the production of glossly, well-lighted shots and perfect sound synchronization. He described himself in 1946 as “a careless technician.” “I regard the technique of film making…as something secondary…The content of the picture is to me infinitely more important than its technical perfection.”[17]

Rossellini wrote: “For me, neorealism is above all a moral position. It then became an aesthetic position, but at the beginning it was moral…Ideas, not images, are important.”

The film also displays many aspects of dramatic convention in sharp contrast to the stark and realistic depiction of reality of later neorealist films, which often lack any narrative arc or resolution. Some scenes in the film are heavily edited, building emotional tension by cutting back and forth between two dramatic events rather than the long, slow shots that characterize the genre. And throughout the film there are comic gags, contrived slapstick moments and elements of stereotype and melodrama that are straight out of Hollywood. Most of these elements were added by Federico Fellini who was the assistant screenwriter for the film.[18]

Quoting Forgacs again: “…Rossellini may have reinvented the cinema, but not with Rome, Open City. It is a hybrid, in which cinematic innovation is grafted onto dramatic convention, the values of anti-Fascism and working-class collectivism onto a narrative with a conservative sexual and social ethos.”[19]

Drawing out this last point, Rossellini was a Christian Humanist and his political and religious values very much guide the film. In one scene, the heroic anti-Fascist Don Pietro gives Nina spiritual counselling from a very socially and sexually conservative perspective and the film’s depiction of its characters gives clear preference to a lifestyle in accordance with standard Christian expectations of family, piety and conservative sexual practices. Further, although many of the radicals depicted in the film are Communists, very little of the political vision such historical figures would have fought for come through in the film.


On Torture, Evil and a Potential Way Forward

Rome, Open City was made during a revolutionary time, when the people of Rome felt free to remake their world in the ruins of the old and decades of repressed desire burst through the grey fascist cloud that had enveloped Rome. The film reflects back upon a time of resistance and through the depiction of that era, the filmmakers sought to illuminate their way forward—to expose what existed, without contrivance or artifice, as an act of revelation that sought to reveal the world around them that was still becoming.

In France, which had suffered under five years of Nazi occupation, a similar feeling of possibility and jubilation took hold after the fall of fascism.  Writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir[20] wrote in an effort to understand what they had lived through—imprisonment, poverty, the torture and death of close friends and comrades.

Rome, Open City, contains a brutal and compelling depiction of the torture of a partisan fighter by a Nazi soldier. For Sartre, such torture epitomized the period of Nazi occupation. The torture and the knowledge of that torture, wrote Sartre, cured his generation of the relativism and acceptance of Evil that had plagued the generations before them.[21] “We  have been  taught  to  take  it  seriously,” Sartre wrote, speaking of Evil.

“It  is  neither  our fault nor our merit if we lived in a time when torture was a daily fact. Chateaubriand, Oradour, the Rue des Saussaies, Tulle, Dachau, and Auschwitz have all demonstrated to us that Evil is not an appearance, that knowing its cause does not dispel it, that it is not opposed to Good as a confused idea is to a clear one, that it is not the effects of passions which might be cured, of a fear which might be overcome, of a passing aberration which might be excused, of an ignorance which might be enlightened, that it can in no way be diverted, brought back, reduced, and incorporated into idealistic humanism…”[22]

Sartre continuing:

“Perhaps a day will come, when a happy age, looking back at the past, will see in this suffering and shame one of the paths which led to peace.  But we were not on the side of history already made. We were, as I have said, situated in such a way that every lived minute seemed to us like something irreducible. Therefore, in spite of ourselves, we came to this conclusion, which will seem shocking to lofty souls: Evil cannot be redeemed.”

It strikes me that our generation, (I’m referring here to those whose adulthood came after the upheavals of the late 60’s and early 70’s and before the present period of crisis) is also plagued by relativism and the acceptance of Evil. When I watch this film and when I read about the moment out of which it was created, I long for the moral clarity of its protagonists and the sense of possibility of its creators. And I feel melancholy for my generation, which seems to me to lack both.

Sometime between 2009 and the present—the fall of 2014 might be a reasonable moment to pinpoint, but would also be a simplification—we moved from a period epitomized by aimlessness and generalized hopelessness that had reigned for a generation to a period we are now certainly fully within. A period that is characterized by global social upheaval, accelerated historical reckoning and existential crisis.

While precincts and cop cars burn, my generation still appears lost in languid nihilism, desperate atomization, haunting despair and self-obsession. We have made ourselves sick with critique, irony and cynicism with which we mask our fear and moral confusion. As yet, it remains unclear whether we will rise to meet the conditions rapidly emerging around us or be pushed aside by future generations more convinced of their own agency and historical duty.

As Mike Davis has said, our current situation can be defined by three coordinates, two of which are knowable: the nature of the crisis and its solution. That is to say, as he puts it, “calamity and utopia.” It is the third that is missing: the means to bring about the solution, the politics of change.[23]

I believe that this third coordinate becomes clear when one chooses to act, despite all evidence to the contrary, as though our species could be redeemed from the crush of history and refuses to accept the voices of a dead past that conspire to tell us that nothing more is possible.

Sartre writes that the tortured partisans, in their refusal to give up their comrades, in their silence, gave birth to man, to our possibility, to our future. It’s in Sartre’s depiction of the tortured partisan that I find an vision of an ethics that marks a way forward out of our current state of confusion and hesitation:
 
“Most  of  the  resisters, though beaten, burned, blinded, and broken, did not speak. They broke the circle of Evil and reaffirmed the human — for themselves, for us, and for their very torturers. They did it without witness, without help, without hope, often even without faith. For them it was not a matter of believing in man but of wanting to. Everything conspired to discourage them: so many indications everywhere about them, those faces bent over them, that misery within them. Everything concurred in making them believe that they were only insects, that man is the impossible dream of spies and squealers, and that they would awaken as vermin like everybody else. This man had to be invented with their martyrized flesh, with their hunted thoughts which were already betraying them—invented on the basis of nothing, for nothing, in absolute gratuitousness. For it is within the human that one can distinguish means and ends, values and preferences, but they were still at the creation of the world and they had only to decide in sovereign fashion whether there would be anything more than the reign of the animal within it. They remained silent and man was born of their silence. We knew that every moment of the day, in the four corners of Paris, man was a hundred times destroyed and reaffirmed.”




Graffito on the walls of France in 1968 reads, “Quickly comrade, the old world is right behind you.” (It is.)







[1] The quote here is from an article called “Intelligence Among the Working People” from The Voice of Industry, May 28, 1847. Old issues of The Voice of Industry and other info about the Lowell factory operatives are at: http://www.industrialrevolution.org/

[2] For a detailed analysis of Italian cinema of the fascist era, as well as a complex elaboration on the differences and similarities between neorealism and the fascist cinema that preceded it, see: Ricci, Steven. Cinema and Fascism: Italian Film and Society, 1922-1943. University of California Press, 2008.

[3] I found this in Ruberto, Laura E. and Kristi M. Wilson. Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema. Wayne State University Press, 2007. But his citation goes back to the Bondanella book cited here, so who knows. You’ll have to read them both and see what you think. In general, I wasn’t satisfied by the information I could find on Rossellini’s career under the era of fascist cinema and would like to know more. Let me know what you find out.

[4] Forgacs, David. Rome Open City. BFI Publishing, 2000. Footnote 25, p. 73

[5] Bonadella, p. 32.

[6] This was first given as an interview in 1952 to the Italian magazine The Italian Film Magazine 2 and then later republished as “Some Ideas on the Cinema.” I found a pdf online scanned from the book: Curle, Howard and Stephen Snyder, Eds. Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives. University of Toronto Press, 2000.

[7] For more of an elaboration on the slippage between the rhetoric of neorealism and the reality of its contents, see: Bondanella, Peter. Italian Cinema from Neorealism to the Present. 3rd Edition. Continuum, 2001.

[8] Ricci, p.  168.

[9] Forgacs, p. 32.

[10] Calvino, Italo. The Path to the Spiders’ Nests. The Ecco Press. p. 7. I looked up the Calvino introduction because it was cited in Bonadella.

[11] Calvino, p. 8.

[12] Forgacs, p. 19.

[13] Calvino, p. 19.

[14] Ricci, p. 172-3.

[15] All this specific historical information pertaining to the film is lifted directly from the Forgacs, p. 13-17.

[16] Forgacs, p. 26. The myth about the black market is reproduced in the Bondanella p. 37, which was written in 1983. This fact was apparently not corrected for the 3rd edition, printed in 2001.

[17] Forgacs, p. 26.

[18] Forgacs, p. 11.

[19] Forgacs, p. 12.

[20] Beauvoir’s reflections on this era are in her memoir Force of Circumstance, 1963.

[21] Sartre, Jean-Paul. What is Literature and Other Essays. Harvard University Press, 1988.

[22] Sartre, p. 178. The rest of the quotes follow directly from there so I’m not going to cite them all.

[23] Davis, Mike. “Planet of Slums.” Lecture. Rhodes College. November 5, 2015. The video is on YouTube. This quote is from his introduction to his talk. It’s definitely worth watching.




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