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The priest, Don Pietro, kneels at the foot of the dead Communist, Girgio Manfredi

The priest, Don Pietro, kneels at the foot of the dead Communist, Girgio Manfredi

Rome Open City is a central film to ‘The New Filmgoer’s Guide to God’. The other day I saw it in the cinema in a new digital restoration, and was yet again transfixed. It is partly because Good Friday approaches, and while the film is a compelling story on its own it is at a deeper level the story of Rome’s crucifixion, or Rome’s Passion if you like. I expand on this in the book, and adumbrate the links the film has with Puccini’s opera ‘Tosca’, which help to give the film a greater resonance, since the operatic echoes deepen the sense in which Rome Open City is a quintessentially Italian film. Other countries suffered terribly in the war, but this was the uniquely Italian version of that suffering.

This is a story that never fails to reach some inner core in me. I first saw the film at the age of 19, and have had a lifetime’s experience of it.