Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Paisà; drama, Italy, 1946; D: Roberto Rossellini, S: Carmela Sazio, Robert Van Loon, Alfonso Pasca, Maria Michi, Harriet Medin, Benjamin Emanuel, Raymond Campbell, Harold Wagner
Italy during World War II. American soldiers strom into the country and persuade the girl Carmela to show them a German fortress. Soldier Joe stays with her, but gets wounded by the Germans. Carmela tries to save him, but dies herself...Black American soldier demands that the boy Paisa returns his stolen boots, but changes his mind when he discovers the kid is poor and his parents have been killed...Prostitute Francesca brings a drunk American to her apartment. She discovers it's Fred, her former big love she meet a long time ago. But Fred leaves her...Nurse Harriet and Massimo search for a friend in the rubble...Three American soldiers find an accomodation in a Catholic monastery. But the priests are astouned that one of them is a Jew, and the other a Protestant...American soldiers fight at the river Po.
Director Roberto Rossellini filmed a lot of impressive films and was one of the faithful and important directors of Italian neorealist cinema, but his career was overshadowed by his affair with Mrs. Bergman. Excellent drama "Paisa", for which Rossellini got his only Oscar nomination in the category of best screenplay, portrays the state of war in a way that's at the same time bitter and sweet, refusing any kind of pathos or pretentiousness. Out of 6 stories, the third one is the bravest, in which prostitute Francesca accidentally stumbles upon her former love, American soldier Fred, but he doesn't recognize her. The first story is slightly overstretched, but the movie as a whole is still very acessible, smooth, structured in a fine way, and full of "little details" that give it an optimistic touch, like in the humorous 5th story where a few rigid Catholic priests are "shocked" to find out that two of the three American soldiers they took in the monastery are a "traitorous" Protestant and a Jew.