Just last week I finally watched ‘Rome Open City’ for the first time. Don’t ask me how I managed to miss this event through what amounts to almost fifty years of classic cinema going. Sometimes ‘great’ films (like ‘great’ books) are so ‘great’ that one avoids delving into them–they’re too famous, too revered to seem very exciting. Of course this is nonsense and watching Rossellini’s 1945 masterpiece for the first time was proof of my own laziness and vacuity. The film is brilliant and has launched me onto a Rossellini-quest which led me to the above very strange piece of film in which Rossellini introduces his film ‘Voyage To Italy’. Who was this introduction made for? The title card that precedes Rosselini announces the title of the show as ‘Roberto Rossellini Presente’. The music that accompanies it is ‘April In Paris’ and Rossellini appears to be speaking French. At least I think that’s French. Am I right? Or is it French accented Italian? And if that were the case why would a Roman be speaking with a French accent? In which case was this a show made for French television? During his little speech Rossellini also refers to his film ‘Fear’ which, in an aside, he says they’ll be seeing soon. So perhaps the whole thing belonged to a little mini-series of televised Rosselini films with intros. Rossellini is fat and bald which is not what I expected–his photos generally present a sleeker version of the maestro but they’re mostly taken on his sets and directors never look better than when on set. That’s because the stress and unhappiness caused by shooting a movie invariably leads to significant weight loss, which never seems to last.


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