What Roberto Rossellini Taught the Taviani Brothers

Filmmakers throughout Europe tapped into the galvanizing power of cinematic realism to grapple with the devastation of World War II, but few can claim to have changed the course of the art form as radically as Roberto Rossellini did with Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero. With their combination of unvarnished visual style, profound moral inquiry, and the use of predominantly nonprofessional actors, these defining works of 1940s world cinema ushered in the golden age of the neorealist movement, which strived to give voice to victims of poverty and oppression and to depict their lives with urgency and authenticity. Among the first wave of young cinephiles to be inspired by the director’s example were Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, who were both teenagers when Rossellini made his breakthrough and would later explore the legacy of World War II in their own masterwork The Night of the Shooting Stars. In an interview featured on our box-set edition of The War Trilogy, which we just issued on Blu-ray this week, the Taviani brothers describe their first encounter with Germany Year Zero, an experience that left them speechless and went on to shape their artistic sensibility as a filmmaking duo.

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