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Libera nos a malo:Violence and Hope, Image and Word in Rossellini's Roma città aperta


By analyzing the final sequence of Roma città aperta (1945), within the context of the film as a whole, this article seeks to demonstrate that individual and national hope, in line with historic and orthodox Christian eschatology, can be drawn from Rosselini’s correlation of the words of the liturgical elements delivered in Latin with the visual images of Don Pietro’s execution. 

The article begins firstly with an overview of the correlation between visual image and spoken word in the film as a whole. It then examines Don Pietro’s death within the context of the other deaths in Roma città aperta. Thirdly it seeks to demonstrate that, although the work of agnostics, Rossellini and Amidei have deliberately and skillfully deployed Christian doctrine to craft a film that would have seemed at once realistic and hopeful to its original Italian audience. The final section of the article shows this craftsmanship in action through a close reading of the liturgical lexicon and visual images in Don Pietro’s execution, the final four minutes of the film.

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