Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PAISÁ (Roberto Rossellini, 1946, Italy)

A concoction of disparate elements whose narrative admixture implodes with shrapnel of irony. Roberto Rossellini’s second neo-realistic adventure into war torn lives evokes the spirit of compatriotism that transcends the barrier of language while its hexalogical nexus resurrects the coincidence of O Henry.

Six short stories are tied together with newsreel footage of the Allied advance through fortress Europe, focusing on individuals and the impact of the war upon their brief lives. Rossellini again moves his camera from standard set designs and into the embattled streets, casting real people to portray their reel counterparts. This creates a heightened sense of reality which accounts for the film’s documentary sensibilities. The cinematography captures unforgettable images of the crumbling infrastructure of a ravaged country, its citizens wearing the physical and emotional scars of a world gone mad.

The first story concerns an American soldier and a young Italian girl; unable to communicate they share an emotional bond. The second reflects upon an drunken MP, a black man who fights valiantly for a country that shuns him: he discovers the ugly truth of suffering from the fate of a little boy. The third tale is set in the Holy City where a young woman must sin in order to survive. The fourth centers on an American nurse who learns her pre-war lover is still alive and leading a resistance movement; she risks everything jut to see him one last time. The fifth story takes place in a monastery, a haven amid the bloody chaos, where religious dogma still sows the mustard seeds of divisiveness. The final chapter depicts a group of resistance fighters who join forces with the Allies towards a common goal, and suffer a common fate.

PAISÁ is a film about friendship amid adversity, how people transcend language and country, when the veneer is stripped away we all have the same need: freedom. Final Grade: (B+)

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