Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.
Vittorio De Sica
Enmeshed with the Italian Campaign during the liberation of Italy between 1943-1944, six distinct but unconnected episodes unfold. Starting off from Sicily, a local girl, Carmela, guides a band of American soldiers through a minefield with devastating results, while in Naples, Pasquale, the orphaned child of war, after stealing the boots of an inebriated African-American G.I., is followed back to his war-battered town. Then, in liberated Rome, the impoverished young prostitute, Francesca, waits for the American soldier who fell in love with six months before, and in Florence, during a battle across Ponte Vecchio, Harriet, a US wartime nurse, risks her life to reunite with her lover. Next, three army chaplains spend the night at a Roman Catholic monastery, however, only one of them is a Catholic. Finally, on the banks of Po River, American OSS officers and Italian Partisans fight the Nazis, after saving two downed English pilots.Written by
Paisan (1946) was the opening film at the First Edinburgh International Festival of Documentary Films (now the Edinburgh Film Festival) in 1947, alongside Georges RouquierFarrebique (1946). See more »
During night a GI lights up his lighter while following the rocky path through the lava canal. A flashlight might have been used in order to help increase the effect of the lighter being lit. When the soldier closes the lighter, the spot projected by the flashlight remains on for a fraction of a second, which is enough to observe the synchronization issue. See more »
Originally premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 8, 1946 in a longer cut (running 134 minutes). Later cut to 125 minutes. The 134 min. cut has been restored from material found at the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in Berlin, Germany and has premiered at the 55th Venice Film Festival in 1998. See more »
'Paisan' was Roberto Rossellini's second film in his famous 'War Trilogy'. It comprises of 6 episodes showcasing random characters involved or living in wartime Italy, strung together to make up the whole film. These episodic vignettes on one hand are random and not closely related to each other, but one can find general themes that loosely bind them together.
A similarity that can be drawn with Rossellini's first film in the War Trilogy, i.e. 'Rome, Open City' and 'Paisan' is that both the films try to be as inclusive as possible. Both films feature different characters from various sections of Italian society. 'Paisan' features a number of interesting characters, but unlike 'Rome, Open City' which mixes these characters together and lets them interact in the same narrative, 'Paisan' uses multiple short disconnected scenarios featuring the characters without mixing them together. I also think 'Paisan' is perfect as the next chapter to 'Rome, Open City' due to the progression that we see in the way Rossellini uses foreigners and specifically Americans. In 'Rome, Open City', the Italian characters from time to time make remarks about their hopes of getting American assistance. There is always this hope beneath the struggle and misery that the Americans will arrive to rid them of their troubles. In 'Paisan', Americans are an integral part of the film and their interaction with the Italian natives is one of the most fascinating aspects of the film. The title of the film means 'friend' and friendship is exactly what the film advocates even if it involves breaking language and geographical barriers.
Rossellini uses newsreel footage and narration at the beginning of every episode to crank up the realism of the film. The first three of the episodes involve American and Italian characters having trouble communicating with each other due to the language barrier. The first episode shows a group of American soldiers walking into a Church and taking a young girl along with them to show them the way. Rossellini shows us his directorial skill in one beautiful scene where he uses one single extended take to stage a conversation between one of the American soldiers, Joe and the young Italian girl Carmela. Joe tries to break the ice with her by talking about him, his family, his home, his loneliness and the long take that Rossellini uses adds to the authenticity of the scene. But this sweet scene and the long take gets broken up by the reality of the war and what follows is heartbreaking.
The second episode is similar to the first in showing an American and an Italian kid having troubles in understanding each other's language. There is a beautiful and intimate scene where the American Joe in his drunken state talks to the young Italian kid while both are sitting on a pile of rubble. Joe in the end to some extent becomes the world's eyes looking into the sorry plight of the Italian masses and the finale to this episode is an eye opener for one and all.
The third episode is probably my favourite. Here the American soldier,Fred and the Italian prostitute,Francesca understand each other's language. This episode has a style of storytelling similar to an O. Henry short story. Both the characters are likable. There is a sad misunderstanding at play and Fred's inability to grasp the reality of the situation and the troubles of women like Francesca in wartime Italy is the basis of this episode. The ending to this episode is probably the most poignant and heartbreaking moment in the entire film.
The fourth episode shows us exactly why Gillo Pontecorvo was heavily influenced by 'Paisan'. This is a brilliantly directed segment with brilliant gritty shots of guerrilla warfare on the streets of Rome. This episode is probably the most energetic of all. The language barrier is virtually nonexistent.
The fifth episode is my least favourite. We go into a church and the Italian Catholic monks welcome 3 American soldiers. Certain aspects of the faiths followed by the soldiers become revealed and the priests struggle among themselves to decide what to do. The episode ends on an overly melodramatic and sentimental tone and I would've liked a more complex treatment of this tussle between prejudice and righteousness.
The sixth episode has a standard war film like look and vibe to it. The American soldiers and the Italian partisan fighters collaborate and they understand each other's language. Nothing special jumps out of this particular segment except the fact that this is a great tribute to all the partisan Italian fighters.
When it comes to Rossellini's direction and style of storytelling, there are moments of brilliance and mastery littered throughout the film. Some episodes are better than others which is bound to happen when a film is structured in an episodic manner. But I think, there are some weaknesses in the screenplay. There are moments where the film delves a little too deep into melodrama and sentimentality which was a bit jarring. Another big weakness was the acting. Some of the performances in the film especially from the people playing the Americans were cringeworthy. Apparently many of them were real soldiers who were still residing in Italy after the war, but I can't put that into consideration while judging the film especially when I have seen directors like De Sica, Satyajit Ray,etc. get great performances out of amateurs. The lines of dialogue written for the English speaking characters were also very subpar and not at all realistic.
I liked 'Paisan' much more than 'Rome, Open City'. I believe this film has more subtlety, more complexity and shows more maturity in Rossellini's direction. However it isn't a perfect film. Having mentioned the problems that I had with the film earlier, I'll still recommend it to everyone. This is a film which should be seen because of the way it influenced other filmmakers and because of its noble themes.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this