Roberto Rossellini

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Roberto Rossellini (8 May 1906 – 3 June 1977) was an Italian film director. Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.

Contents

Early life

Born in Rome, Roberto Rossellini lived on the Via Ludovisi, where Benito Mussolini had his first Roman hotel in 1922 when Fascism obtained power in Italy.[1]

Rossellini's father built the first cinema in Rome (a theatre in which films could be shown), granting his son an unlimited free pass; the young Rossellini started frequenting the cinema at an early age. When his father died, he worked as a soundmaker for films and for a certain time he experienced all the accessory jobs related to the creation of a film, gaining competence in each field. Rossellini had a brother, Renzo, who later scored many of his films.

On 26 September 1936, he married Marcella De Marchis (17 January 1916, Rome – 25 February 2009, Sarteano), a costume designer. This was after a quick annulment from Assia Noris, a Russian actress who worked in Italian films. De Marchis and Rossellini had two sons: Marco Romano (born 3 July 1937 and died of appendicitis in 1946), and Renzo (born 24 August 1941). Rossellini and De Marchis separated in 1950 (and eventually divorced).

Career

In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.[citation needed] His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.

Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini's "Fascist Trilogy", together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs his friendship and cooperation with Federico Fellini and Aldo Fabrizi. When the Fascist regime ended in 1943, just two months after the liberation of Rome, Rossellini was already preparing Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945). Fellini assisted on the script and Fabrizi playing the role of the priest, while Rossellini self-produced. Most of the money came from credits and loans, and film had to be found on the black market. This dramatic film was an immediate success. Rossellini had started now his so-called Neorealistic Trilogy, the second title of which was Paisà (1946), produced with non-professional actors, and the third, Germania anno zero (Germany Year Zero, 1948), sponsored by a French producer and filmed in Berlin's French sector. In Berlin also, Rossellini preferred non-actors, but he was unable to find a face he found "interesting"; he placed his camera in the center of a town square, as he did for Paisà, but was surprised when nobody came to watch.

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