Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Roma Citta Libera"

"Roma Citta Libera" (1946) is a charming, surprising film.  The first scene surprised me the most.  It's night; a thief (Nando Bruno) climbs onto the balcony of a room he intends to rob. Miserable, distraught, the occupant, played by the dark, handsome Andrea Checchi, scrawls "basta" on his mirror, and holds up a gun, intending to shoot himself.  The thief rushes in, calls him an imbecile and takes away the gun.  He examines the man's few possessions, which he dismisses as not worth stealing.

What follows is a slow masterful depiction of how a man makes friends with an unwilling hostile person, whom he accepts unconditionally.  The would-be suicide tries to throw the thief out. He shouts; he intimidates.  The thief pays no attention, sits down, and makes himself at home.  He tells the man that he himself once tried to kill himself--by drowning.  Enormously patient he offers the man a cigarette, which the man refuses.  He won't let go of his misery.  His lover has run off with his life savings.  The thief smokes, takes his time.  They go on talking.  Time for another cigarette; the thief lights two, hands one to the abandoned lover, who this time takes it.  They smoke together.  Eventually they go out, and the action rolls on.  Life rolls on--rich, absurd, hopeful.

The thief, in the hat, of course; the saved man; the girl who will also come to life, and finally smile.

Vittorio De Sica as the character suffering from temporary amnesia--you'll have to see the film.  (There's no traffic in the postwar streets of Rome.  That column--not Trajan's.  Does anyone know which it is?)


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  2. what a lovely jolt, to awake on a slightly steamy, very technicolor friday morning in New York, and to be drawn into the cool, black and white shadows of Rome and your lucid thoughts.

  3. What is it about black and white? A different kind of drama from color. Thanks, Susan.