(Rome) The story of Roberto Rossellini is a very Italian story, encompassing Italy in change from the Fascist period and, reaching beyond his lived life, until 2009. Though Europe is not Europe without Italy, Rossellini’s story, in the strictest sense, is a very Italian story; not an European story. For Italy, separated from the rest of Europe by the Alps, is, and perhaps always has been, something apart, still today considered by North Europeans an exotic place to escape to. As is popularly said, Italy is a wonderful place to visit but hell to live in. The story of Roberto Rossellini deals with that paradox. Read Roberto Rossellini and think Italy of the past 75 years.
The Italian film director, Roberto Rossellini (1906-1977), known as 95% neo-realist, was highly successful in his film career. Yet—and here are two pieces of information that might be news for cinema buffs—after growing up in a bourgeois family near pre-Dolce Vita Via Veneto in Rome and then tinkering in insignificant cinema during the Fascist era, he later became a maker of Italy’s cinema of the Left. Late in his life, Rossellini then had a vision, a vision light years distant from European filmmaking: in the 1970s, far ahead of his time, he became enamoured of the East and dreamed of a rejoining of the Occident and Islam.