Introduction: Open City: Reappropriating the Old, Making the New

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Like only a handful of other works – Birth of a Nation (1914), Potemkin (1925), Citizen Kane (1941), and Breathless (1960) come most readily to mind – Roberto Rossellini's Roma città aperta (1945; hereafter referred to in my essay simply as Open City) instantly, markedly, and permanently changed the landscape of film history. It has been credited with helping to initiate and guide a revolution in and reinvention of modern cinema, bold claims that are substantiated when we examine its enormous impact, even to this day, on how films are conceptualized, made, structured, theorized, circulated, and viewed. But the film has attained such a mythic power and status that we must be careful not to give in to uncritical enthusiasm. To combat this tendency (as well as to analyze and celebrate the film's perpetual appeal) the present volume is designed as “revisionary,” offering a fresh look at the production history of Open City; some of its key imag(particularly its representation of the city and various types of women); its cinematic influences and influence on later films; the complexity of its political dimensions (including the film's vision of political struggle and the political uses to which the film was put); and the legacy of the film in public consciousness.


E ISBN 9780511617133