Roberto Rossellini’s follow-up to his breakout Rome Open City was the ambitious, enormously moving Paisan (Paisà), which consists of six episodes set during the liberation of Italy at the end of World War II, taking place across the country, from Sicily to the northern Po Valley. With its documentary-like visuals and its intermingled cast of actors and nonprofessionals, Italians and their American liberators, this look at the struggles of different cultures to communicate and of people to live their everyday lives in extreme circumstances is equal parts charming sentiment and vivid reality. A long-missing treasure of Italian cinema, Paisan is available here for the first time in its full original release version. —The Criterion Collection
Rossellini was one of the directors of the Italian neorealist cinema, contributing films such as Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City 1945) to the movement.
In 1937, Rossellini made his first documentary, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. After this essay, he was called to assist Goffredo Alessandrini in making Luciano Serra pilota, one of the most successful Italian films of the first half of the 20th century. In 1940 he was called to assist Francesco De Robertis on Uomini sul Fondo.His close friendship with Vittorio Mussolini, son of Il Duce, has been interpreted as a possible reason for having been preferred to other apprentices.
Some authors describe the first part of his career as a sequence of trilogies. His first feature film, La nave bianca (1942) was sponsored by the audiovisual propaganda centre of Navy Department and is the first work in Rossellini’s “Fascist Trilogy”, together with Un pilota ritorna (1942) and Uomo dalla Croce (1943). To this period belongs… read more
"Paisan" is the key to the enigma of neo-realism. The cornerstone of the movement is not location shooting or lack of professional actors but the idea of misunderstood martyrdom, manufactured in order to overcome the shame of a nation that managed to lose WW2 to both sides simultaneously. In that sense, every neo-realist movie is a war movie. If you want to understand what De Sica's weepies are about, watch "Paisan".
Six short stories,all compelling documents and huge in their emotional impact of the horrors of war.
A look at posters in which actors are absent and the title treatment is king.
Above: Germany Year Zero. Courtesy of the Criterion Collection. Many of the extras (interviews, visual essays) included in this Criterion
One-upping Rome, Open City in narrative ambition, scope, and sociopolitical reach, the second film in Rossellini’s War Trilogy is a fascinating cross section of Italy in the final years of… read review