INDIA: MATRI BHUMI (Roberto Rossellini, 1958)

Artist and film critic Fred Camper has named Roberto Rossellini’s India: The Great Mother—but more widely called, simply, India—one of his three favorite films. Andrew Sarris called it “one of the prodigious achievements of the [twentieth] century.” And Jean-Luc Godard, no less, has likened it to “the creation of the world.” Last Sunday, I watched […]

WE, THE WOMEN (Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, Luigi Zampa, Gianni Franciolini, Alfredo Guarini, 1953)

Called in the U.S. either We, the Women or Of Life and Love, Siamo donne is a composite film from Italy whose overall idea legendary screenwriter Cesare Zavattini originated. Each of four segments showcases a major star/actress; one tedious segment, with a labored postmodern spin, a starlet. The four “celebrities,” each ostensibly playing herself, are […]

THE MAN WITH A CROSS (Roberto Rossellini, 1943)

The rough, powerful conclusion to his so-called Fascist Trilogy, Roberto Rossellini’s L’uomo dalla croce revolves around an Italian priest, a humble military chaplain, who ministers to the wounded and the dying, and Russians scrambling for refuge after being shelled from their homes, in a bombed-out shack on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. […]

“Envy” from THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS (Roberto Rossellini, 1952)

I cannot tell you what goes on in Colette’s 1933 story “La chatte,” upon which it is based, but Camilla, the newly married woman in Roberto Rossellini’s “Envy,” has no rational basis for her antipathy for her husband Olivier’s adorable Saha. Although he could be more sensitive to the “period of adjustment” that Camilla is […]

WHERE IS FREEDOM? (Roberto Rossellini, 1954)

Salvatore Lojacono, a clownish barber, missed the Second World War and much else, having spent 22 years in prison for murdering someone whom he believed dishonored his marriage. Released for good behavior, he suddenly finds himself without the security that prison afforded—lodgings and food provided by the state—and must additionally cope with a “free,” unfamiliar […]