By Michael F. O'Riley
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Extra resources for Cinema in an Age of Terror: North Africa, Victimization, and Colonial History
In the context of fascist Italy, immediately following the Nazi occupation, the scene of torture in Rossellini’s ﬁlm featuring the Marxist Manfredi, who is tortured by the Nazis to reveal information about the partisan movement in Rome, reﬂects the way that victimization in the neorealist ﬁlm plays upon the cultural capital and political imagination of the nation as a victimized entity. Manfredi’s torture by the Nazis, along with the Catholic Don Pietro’s death as a martyr of the resistance, plays upon the preexisting cultural image of Italy as a nation victimized by the Nazis yet resistant in Marxist and Catholic values.
Manfredi’s torture by the Nazis, along with the Catholic Don Pietro’s death as a martyr of the resistance, plays upon the preexisting cultural image of Italy as a nation victimized by the Nazis yet resistant in Marxist and Catholic values. In many ways the scene of torture in Roma Città Aperta capitalizes upon the prevailing sentiment of victimization to galvanize and codify Italian cultural values. Although victimization in Pontecorvo’s ﬁlm is portrayed differently, what the two examples share is the way that preexisting expressions of cultural values become afﬁxed to the depiction of victimization when those values are perceived to be threatened.
There is not one image that is not charged with meaning, that does not drive home into the mind the sharp end of an unforgettable moral truth, and not one that to this end is false to the ontological ambiguity of reality” (205). It is important to note that the comparison to the political slant found in the ambiguities of neorealism is not without basis since Pontecorvo’s style was greatly informed by Italian neorealist aesthetics and principles by predecessors such as De Sica, Visconti, and Rossellini.