Rossellini’s Wartime Women

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During the time of Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City (1945), Rome was open to overbearing Nazis, complying Fascists, and the daring Resistance. Conforming to the Fascist regime or joining the Resistance were the only two viable political options Italians had during the time of Nazi occupation. Rossellini uses the illustration of two diverse wartime women and their drawn-out relationships to depict these two polar Italian political sentiments during WWII.

Marina Mari, who is associated with Fascism throughout the film, is the first of the two women to make an appearance, in which she sits comfortably in her bed. On the other hand, Pina, representative of resistance, first appears on screen laboriously looting a bakery. Already, Pina is showing her need-base resistance to government and law as she robs the bakery in the presence of an officer, and even insists he take some bread from her purse. Pina, unlike Marina, lives a modest life and has not given herself to materialistic desires; she lives in a way which she remains true to her roots. Marina finds comfort in material and pseudo extravagance; which leaves her crawling to the Fascists who offer support and lies of a better future.

Marina and Pina are never on screen together (probably at the intention of Rossellini.) However, there is a moment when Manfredi tells Pina the story of how he met Marina. He explains that the two met at a restaurant while it was being attacked by an air raid. “Everyone ran for cover, we remained. She laughed, she wasn’t afraid,’ Manfredi says. While this statement may make Manfredi and Marina seem like-minded, a closer analysis would reveal the differences in the two. Manfredi, fearless seeker of justice, wasn’t afraid of the air raid because he strongly feels the Nazi regime is something to be battled face-to-face; cowering under a table in fear won’t be of help. Marina, on the other hand, laughs and remains unafraid because she has given up. She doesn’t even think it’s worth...
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