Once Upon a Time... Rome, Open City (2006)
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Critic Reviews for Once Upon a Time... Rome, Open City
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Audience Reviews for Once Upon a Time... Rome, Open City
I saw this on DVD (yah, Netflix!) at the suggestion of a friend who billed it as the best war movie he ever saw. Initially it reminded me of The Bicycle Thief and Fellini (in fact, the end credits cite Fellini as consulting on the film), but I think it's because it was made around the same time. The human story was credible and heart-breaking: what would you do to stay alive in a war zone (lie, cheat, prostitute yourself), which was then answered by the leader of the resistance who was tortured to death without revealing the whereabouts of his colleagues, so the answer is: some people would rather die than betray their friends, obviously unlike the resistance leader's lover who betrayed him for a fur coat and a tryst with a Nazi lesbian. The most interesting thing to me (writing here in 2012) was the army of young boys who were taking matters into their own hands and blowing up fascists and Nazi invaders. When resistance is so organic, it's obvioius that the invaders don't have a chance. All of this stuff I thought of after I'd seen the movie and the only thing I can make of this is that our film vocabulary is different now...things that seem like cliches are cliches only because they were once fresh and astounding and so lesser talents adopt them as short-hand for what they are trying to protray. I think at the time this was made it was probably more than the morality play it seemed to my post-modern eyes.
Despite the multitude of World War II-based movies that have been created over the decades, the Italian classics never fail to tell the most evocative stories. Cringe a little at times, but without making the audience cringe the subject isn't truly being portrayed.
A classic film that any film lover owes it to themselves to see. Hopefully the Criterion Collection will release a version of the film on DVD that it deserves.
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