Resistance, Charity, and Rebirth in Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City
29 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2008 Last revised: 28 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 23, 2009
With its use of contemporary events, location shots, and a plot that mixes comedy, tragedy, and passion play, Roberto Rossellini's 1945 film Rome, Open City founded the movement known as "Italian Neo-Realism." Yet in addition to its cinematic genius, the film offers an effective presentation of the Christian teaching on the relation between religion and politics. Rossellini asserts that a Christian Europe can be reconstructed only on a foundation of charity rather than hate, vengeance, or even justified punishment for Nazi crimes. It is not on the basis of tales of resistance that Italians and Europeans can be reborn, Rossellini argues, but on the basis of the Christian command to "love your enemies." European rebirth means the installation of a moral order that makes parenthood feasible and respectable. By reflecting on Rossellini's masterpiece, I examine the triumph and the tragedy of the Christian Democratic Europe that Rome, Open City foretold and helped to found.
Keywords: Roberto Rossellini, Christian Democracy, Italian Resistance, politics and film, politics and the family
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