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Roberto Rossellini: The War Trilogy at the National Gallery of Art



Roberto Rossellini: The War Trilogy at the National Gallery of Art

Roberto Rossellini’s films of the 1940s, Roma, città aperta, Paisà, and Germania anno zero - now generally referred to as a trilogy based on the Second World War - took audiences and critics by surprise. The Italian movie industry was completely devastated during the war. Casts, crews, and film stock were hard to find, but Rossellini, who had once made movies for Mussolini, wanted to push forward with a new project. His shooting started even before the Nazi occupiers had left. Using makeshift sets and virtually no budget to craft a narrative tale under severe conditions; incorporating newsreel footage and rough camera work; employing ordinary people as players - all were deemed radical gestures. Ultimately, Rossellini’s efforts supported the new, forceful, and influential postwar style, Italian Neorealism.


National Gallery of Art
East Building Auditorium
4th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20001


Please Note

MAY 25 – 27, 2019  

Programs are free of charge, but seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Films are screened in original formats, when possible. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Programs are subject to change.




Rome, Open City

May 25 at 12:00pm
East Building Auditorium

roma cittaA chronicle of resistance set during the occupation, Rome, Open City (the title is taken from Rome’s status as an “open city” as of August 14, 1943) centers around a group of ordinary Romans who work together during the early months of 1944 to protect a fugitive antifascist leader from capture. Anna Magnani, one of the few professionals in the cast, is the film’s moral core and archetypal earth mother set to marry a resistance fighter after losing her first husband to the fascists. Steeped in the miseries and passions brought on by long-endured distress, the film (cowritten by Rossellini with Federico Fellini and Sergio Amidei) was hastily funded and crudely shot, not necessarily for stylistic reasons, though this style proved to be an advantage for the film’s ultimate neorealist reputation. (Roberto Rossellini, 1945, subtitles, 105 minutes)



May 27 at 12:30pm
East Building Auditorium

paisanIn a cycle of six chapters, Paisan tracks the progress of the Allies during the Italian Campaign, from the invasion of Sicily to crossing the Po River. The central motif — crushing struggles with poor communication and response — is sensitively played out despite the film’s rough-edged production. Paisan was widely seen at the time, and was later nominated for an Academy Award for original screenplay and for a BAFTA Award for best film of 1946. In Italy it proved to be the most popular new film of the 1945 – 1946 season. “The film is shot through with flashes of moral illumination and mutual understanding, fleeting moments of connection and compassion” — Nelson Kim. (Roberto Rossellini, 1946, subtitles, 134 minutes) Special thanks to Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna for loan of the restored digital print.


Germany, Year Zero

May 27 at 3:30pm
East Building Auditorium

zeroThe final installment in the trilogy, Germany, Year Zero takes place in Berlin, where Rossellini shot on location to create a sense of hard realities encircling the devastated and defeated German nation. Graphic images of a bombed-out capital and a sympathetic portrait of the shattered lives of the children, symbolize the intense struggle for survival. “A vehemently subjective vision, the junction of Italian neorealism and German expressionism” — Fernando F. Croce. (Roberto Rossellini, 1948, subtitles, 78 minutes) Special thanks to Film Forum and to Cinecittà Luce,


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This program is part of the 7th annual European Month of Culture.

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Data: Da Sab 25 Mag 2019 a Lun 27 Mag 2019

Organizzato da : National Gallery of Art

In collaborazione con : IIC Washington

Ingresso : Libero


National Gallery of Art