"Things are there. Why manipulate them?"
— Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini is known today for two things. The Pioneer
of Italian neorealism, of shooting on location with non-professional actors averting movieness and getting close to the truth in films like Rome, Open City
. He's also known as "that guy Ingrid Bergman
left her Hollywood career for", a scandal which was denounced on the Senate floor and which gave Rossellini a lurid reputation, and after their marriage, was regarded by admirers as Bergman's Old Shame
(though not by her
Some film historians acknowledge the social importance of his short film, The Miracle
which had an ironic look at Catholic themes that became controversial in America and led to a landmark court ruling that declared film as an artform and so under the protection of the First Amendment, severely eroding censorship.
But what about the films themselves. As Martin Scorsese
, his former son-in-law(via marriage to Isabella Rossellini), noted, Rossellini was a director who was always one step ahead and hated repeating himself. His films inspired the French New Wave
and François Truffaut
called him, "The father of the New Wave"
, the man who inspired film-makers to make their dreams a reality and go out there and make movies. He was also a pioneer, adopting all kinds of new technologies including a modified zoom which he controlled by remote. He made documentaries in India, biopics on historical figures for television and was a restless man with boundless energy and a world of ideas.
Luckily, he's found a home in The Criterion Collection
who are releasing many of his best films on DVD for new audiences.