(1945)5Jonathan CrowThe first masterpiece of the post-war era, Roma, citta aperta is a cinematic landmark that heralded the rise of Italian Neorealism and influenced much of cinematic history to come, from the French New Wave to cinéma vérité and Direct Cinema to Third Cinema. Like The Cabinet of Caligari (1919), Open City is a masterwork born out of deprivation. The Nazis had vacated the city a mere two months before director Roberto Rossellini commenced shooting; only grainy low-grade stock was available; and most of Rome's studios were bombed out from the war. In most cases, any of these factors would have doomed the production, yet Rosselini brilliantly managed to take seeming liabilities and adapt them into a gritty re-definition of cinematic realism. He took the film out into the street and cast non-actors in central roles, giving the film immediacy and authenticity. In a tactic that would later be a model for much of Italian cinema, he shot Open City without sound, allowing his camera crews greater mobility. Moreover, he infused the film with a humanism that would be a signature of Rosselini's career and would mark much of immediate post-war film, from Vittorio De Sica's Ladri di biciclette to Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. Roma, citta aperta is a harrowing, emotionally powerful film that changed the face of cinema.