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Notes on the end of 'Rome Open City'

Leavitt, C. (2018) Notes on the end of 'Rome Open City'. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6 (3). pp. 359-372. ISSN 20477368

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1386/jicms.6.3.359_1


Among the most iconic images in world cinema, the final shot of Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City has inspired an effusion of critical commentary that bespeaks not only its cinematic significance but also its historical resonance. As Marcello, Romoletto, and their compatriots walk together away from the site of don Pietro’s execution, they convey a sense of hope for the future, but theirs is hope tinged with despair, a future burdened by the weight of the past. They are thus a visual embodiment of post-war Italy in the truest sense, reflecting the country’s recovery in all its complexity by presaging not only the triumph of the Resistance but also the impasse of the “youth question.” They signify a resolution that is decidedly partial, a transformation that is manifestly unfinished, a future that is necessarily deferred. This is only a happy ending, therefore, if it is recognised not to be an ending at all. Rome Open City reaches its true conclusion not with the boys but with the audience. In a moment of historical upheaval, when the consequences of Italy’s past—the “youth problem,” the persistence of Fascism—continued to threaten a fragile future, Rome Open City could aspire only to point the way forward towards an unrealised, uncertain, and perhaps unattainable future resolution that lies beyond the film’s iconic final shot.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > Languages and Cultures > Italian
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:74250


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