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Roberto Rossellini

Roberto Rossellini

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Roberto Rossellini: 2-Disc Collector's... Don't miss this chance to experience two masterpieces from Roberto Rossellini.... more info $29.98was $29.98 Buy Now

The Flowers Of St. Francis: The Criterion... A serene view of the life of a monk in search of spiritual enlightenment. Famed... more info $19.99was $29.95 Buy Now

The Taking Of Power By Louis XIV: The... Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring... more info $19.99was $29.95 Buy Now

Rossellini's History Films: Renaissance And... The best way to learn about history is to relive it. That's the philosophy... more info $39.99was $59.95 Buy Now

Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy: The... Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it... more info $53.99was $79.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died: June 4, 1977
Born: May 8, 1906 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Italy Profession: screenwriter, director, editor, dubber, teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Often identified with the constrictive "neorealist" label, Roberto Rossellini stands as one of the greatest directors in the history of Italian film: the man responsible for the postwar rebirth of Italian cinema and one of the few truly great humanists (along with Jean Renoir) to work in the medium. Born into a bourgeois Roman family, Rossellini spent his formative years under Mussolini's fascist fist and, by his early 30s, had drifted into filmmaking--a common pattern amongst the idle Italian rich. He worked with his friend, producer Vittorio Mussolini, the son of "Il Duce", on the script for "Luciano Serra Pilota" (1938), a propaganda film which showed some early marks of a neorealist style. After directing a handful of pictures under the official government banner, Rossellini, the stereotypically apolitical Roman, made an indelible mark on world cinema in 1945 with "Open City." Despite a lukewarm response in Italy, the film was a sensation in France and the US with its raw, near-documentary style: grainy black-and-white photography, amateur performers and real locations. These were elements that audiences had not previously seen in feature films, and "Open City" was hailed as bringing a new kind...

Often identified with the constrictive "neorealist" label, Roberto Rossellini stands as one of the greatest directors in the history of Italian film: the man responsible for the postwar rebirth of Italian cinema and one of the few truly great humanists (along with Jean Renoir) to work in the medium.

Born into a bourgeois Roman family, Rossellini spent his formative years under Mussolini's fascist fist and, by his early 30s, had drifted into filmmaking--a common pattern amongst the idle Italian rich. He worked with his friend, producer Vittorio Mussolini, the son of "Il Duce", on the script for "Luciano Serra Pilota" (1938), a propaganda film which showed some early marks of a neorealist style. After directing a handful of pictures under the official government banner, Rossellini, the stereotypically apolitical Roman, made an indelible mark on world cinema in 1945 with "Open City." Despite a lukewarm response in Italy, the film was a sensation in France and the US with its raw, near-documentary style: grainy black-and-white photography, amateur performers and real locations. These were elements that audiences had not previously seen in feature films, and "Open City" was hailed as bringing a new kind of realism, "neorealism," to the screen.

While his two subsequent films--"Paisan" (1946, one of his greatest achievements) and "Germany, Year Zero" (1947)--bore the hallmarks of the neorealist style, Rossellini drew increasing critical fire for his use of melodrama (especially through his brother Renzo's musical scores) and Hollywood narrative conventions. He had never been a strict neorealist, however. His aim was to understand rather than recreate reality, sometimes for an expressly pedagogical function (witness his masterful and unusual "The Flowers of St. Francis" 1948), and he incorporated other expressionistic elements into nearly all his work. These elements are particularly evident in films such as the underappreciated "Fear" (1954), with its psychologically based visuals, but had already been partially present in "Open City".

In 1949, Rossellini further challenged the film community's expectations by forming a creative and personal--not to mention scandalous--union with one of Hollywood's greatest stars, Ingrid Bergman. Beginning with "Stromboli" (1949), the pair collaborated over a six-year period on seven films, all of which proved disastrous with both critics and public. (Several years later, however, writers for Cahiers du Cinema were hailing "Voyage in Italy" (1953) as a masterpiece, and its influence is readily apparent in films by French New Wave directors.) By 1958, the two had separated, following revelations of Rossellini's affair with Indian screenwriter Somali Das Gupta. Rossellini's documentary "India" (1958) was a box-office failure, although its critical reputation remains high. Commercial success finally returned with "General Della Rovere" (1959), a wartime Resistance story which also marked a return to the familiar neorealist style; Rossellini would later see the film as a retread of the ideas and forms of his previous successes.

By 1964, Rossellini had been canonized by numerous critics, as well as fellow filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Bernardo Bertolucci (in the latter's "Before the Revolution" 1964, a character declares, "One cannot live without Rossellini!"). Concerned chiefly with the state of cinema and its function as an artistic and educational tool, Rossellini decided to remove himself from the commercial arena. Viewing himself as a craftsman and not an artist, he devoted his creative energies to TV films on science and history: the five-hour "L'Ete del Ferro/The Age of Iron" (1964), the twelve-hour "Lotta Dell'Uomo per la Sua Sopravvivenza/Man's Struggle for Survival" (1967) and the six-hour "Atti Degli Apostoli/The Acts of the Apostles" (1968), as well as biographies of Socrates, Blaise Pascal, Augustine of Hippo, Descartes, Jesus and Louis XIV. Only the latter," The Rise of Louis XIV" (1966), has received its due acclaim, chiefly because it is one of the few to have been screened theatrically.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Messiah, The (1975) Director
3.
  Year One (1974) Director
4.
  Cartesius (1973) Director
5.
  Blaise Pascal (1972) Director
6.
  Augustine Of Hippo (1972) Director
7.
  Socrates (1971) Director
8.
  The Rise of Louis XIV (1970) Director
10.
  Black Soul (1962) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1934:
Began working in film industry as editor, dubber, screenwriter (date approximate)
1937:
Made amateur film, "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune" (banned by Italian censors)
1938:
First screen credit as writer of "Luciano Serra, Pilota" (also directed some sequences)
1941:
First feature as director, "La Nave Bianca/The White Ship" (expanded from original documentary form)
1945:
Made breakthrough film, "Roma, Citta Aperta/Rome, Open City"
1949:
Made first film with Ingrid Bergman, "Stromboli"
1954:
Made last film with Ingrid Bergman, "La paura/Fear"
1977:
Directed last film, "The Messiah"
1985:
Posthumously appeared in Jonas Mekas' experimental compilation of sketches, "He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life"
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Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Marcella De Marquis. Marriage annulled; mother of Renzino and Romano.
companion:
Anna Magnani. Actor. Separated in 1949.
wife:
Ingrid Bergman. Actor. Married in 1950; marriage annulled in 1957.
wife:
Somali Das Gupta. Screenwriter. Divorced; one son together; Indian.
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Family close complete family listing

brother:
Renzo Rossellini. Composer. Scored many of his brother's films; born in 1908; died in 1982.
son:
Renzino Rossellini. Mother, Marcella de Marquis.
son:
Romano Rossellini. Deceased; mother, Marcella de Marquis.
son:
Roberto Ingmar Rossellini. Businessman. Born on 1950; mother, Ingrid Bergman.
daughter:
Isabella Rossellini. Actor, model. Born on June 18, 1952; twin of Ingrid; mother, Ingrid Bergman.
daughter:
Ingrid Isotta Aborne. Professor. Born on June 18, 1952; twin sister of Isabella Rossellini; studied for doctorate in Italian literature at Columbia.
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Bibliography close complete biography

"Roberto Roselliini"
"Roberto Rossellini"
"Roberto Rossellini"
"Roberto Rossellini"
"Roberto Rossellini: The War Trilogy" Garland Publishing
"The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini" Da Capo Press
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