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The films of Roberto Rossellini, Ranked

by Eliecer Gaspar
The films of Roberto Rossellini, Ranked by Eliecer Gaspar
“There is nothing in his films that belongs to literature or to poetry, not even a trace of “the beautiful” in the merely pleasing sense of the word. Rossellini directs facts. It is as if his characters were haunted by some demon of movement. His little brothers of Saint Francis seem to have no better way of glorifying God than to run races… The world of Rossellini is a world of pure acts, unimportant in themselves but preparing the way (as if unbeknownst to God himself) for the sudden dazzling revelation of their meaning… The art of Rossellini consists in knowing what has to be done to confer on the facts what is at once their most… Read more


“There is nothing in his films that belongs to literature or to poetry, not even a trace of “the beautiful” in the merely pleasing sense of the word. Rossellini directs facts. It is as if his characters were haunted by some demon of movement. His little brothers of Saint Francis seem to have no better way of glorifying God than to run races… The world of Rossellini is a world of pure acts, unimportant in themselves but preparing the way (as if unbeknownst to God himself) for the sudden dazzling revelation of their meaning… The art of Rossellini consists in knowing what has to be done to confer on the facts what is at once their most substantial and their most elegant shape- not the most graceful, but the sharpest in outline, the most direct, or the most trenchant." – A. Bazin

Cinema of action and movement. The king walking, the elephants bathing: their very movements are facts which can lead to revelations. Along with Jean Eustache, no other filmmaker has affected my views on cinema so severely.

“[Rossellini] told me, ‘I can make a chair act,’ and I am a chair in the film, a good chair, but a chair all the same. He controlled me like a guinea pig to whom one says, ‘Go right, go left.’ I went right, I went left, I put my hand like this. At the moment of the ‘Memorial,’ the discovery of God, my hand had to go down like this, and then my head had to fall like this, and then I had to fall down because I finally had the revelation of God. It’s the most successful scene in the film, but I had no voice in it. He based all his work on a style of gesture that was so precise that it ended up giving you the inner feelings.” – Pierre Arditi (Blaise Pascal)

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