Sunday 20 October 2013

Paisan [1946]

The pedigree of Paisan, the second chapter in Rossellini’s ‘War Trilogy’, is nearly as strong, particularly in the context of Italian Neorealism, as Rome, Open City. It employed an episodic structure to present vignettes of life both during and after WWII, and the rather complicated relationship between common Italian folks and American soldiers. Each episode begins with documentary footages of the war-torn country, with a voice, in the form of radio commentary, introducing various events during the invasion. In the 1st episode, a US soldier tries to overcome the language barrier and have a conversation with an Italian girl who clearly distrusts him; in the 2nd, a drunken African-American GI befriends a street urchin; in the 3rd, a streetwalker takes a young soldier to her home, but he keeps reminiscing about the lovely girl he’d met and fallen for, who, ironically, is the same lady beside him; in the 4th, an American nurse must evade bullets and bombs while frantically looking for her lover who’s a partisan leader; in the 5th, three American GIs take shelter in a Catholic church, but the priests are deeply troubled that 2 of the men are not of their faith – one is a Protestant while another is a Jew; and in the final segment, OSS men and partisan fighters battles it out behind enemy lines. Understandably, not all the shorts were of uniform quality, and acting and staging were also weak at places. However, the deeply melancholic 3rd segment and the wryly humorous 5th, along with the general authenticity of the proceedings – the destruction, desolation and hardships, made this most certainly worth a watch.

Director: Roberto Rossellini
Genre: Drama/War Drama
Language: Italian
Country: Italy

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