- Movement. The political and military resistance to Fascism and to the Nazi occupying forces that took place in Italy after September 1943 understandably featured prominently in many of the films of the immediate postwar period, beginning with the two films that remained the classic model for representations of the Resistance, Roberto Rossellini's Roma citta aperta (Rome Open City, 1945) and Paisa (Paisan, 1946). The Resistance, presented as a heroic struggle between good and evil, was also naturally the focus of a number of films produced by the Associazione Nazionale Partigiani d'ltalia (ANPI, National Partisan Association), among them Giorni di gloria (Days of Glory, 1945), a semidocumentary using largely stock footage and produced collaboratively by Mario Serandrei, Giuseppe De Santis, Luchino Visconti, and others, Aldo Vergano's Il sole sorge ancora (Outcry, 1946), Giulio Ferroni's Pian delle Stelle (1946), and Giuseppe De Santis's Caccia Tragica (Tragic Hunt, 1947). The Resistance, seen as a moral imperative, was also at the center of Mario Camerini's Due lettere anonime (Two Anonymous Letters, 1945), Alessandro Blasetti's Un giorno nella vita (A Day in the Life, 1946), Carmine Gallone's Avanti a lui tremava tutta Roma (Before Him All Rome Trembled, 1946), and Giacomo Gentilomo's 'O sole mio (My Sun, 1946).However, in the wake of the official hostility shown by the center-right authorities toward films such as Carlo Lizzani's Achtung! Banditi! (Achtung! Bandits! 1951), which attempted to present the Resistance as an aspect of a more generalized class struggle in Italy, the theme of the Resistance largely disappeared from Italian screens for almost a decade. It returned in force at the end of the 1950s in Rossellini's Il Generate della Rovere (General della Rovere, 1959) and Era notte a Roma (Escape by Night, 1960) and continued to appear insistently in the following years in a host of films, among them Lizzani's Il gobbo (The Hunchback of Rome, 1960), Nanni Loy's Le quattro giornate di Napoli (The Four Days of Naples, 1962), Gianfranco De Bosio's Il Terrorista (The Terrorist, 1963), Luigi Comencini's La ragazza di Bube (Bebo's Girl, 1963), and Gianni Puccini's I sette fratelli Cervi (The Seven Cervi Brothers, 1968). At the beginning of the 1970s Bernardo Bertolucci's La strategia del ragno (The Spider's Stratagem, 1970) utilized the Resistance as the stage for a psychoanalytical search for the father, whereas two years later Marco Leto's La villeggiatura (Black Holiday, 1972) sought to analyze it historically as a struggle against a much more deeply rooted authoritarianism in the Italian political system. The Resistance continued to feature prominently in many films made during the 1970s, among them Ettore Scola's C'eraramo tanto amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much, 1974), Francesco Maselli's Il sospetto (The Suspect, 1974), and Valentino Orsini's Uomini e no (Men or Not Men, 1980), which adapted the classic neorealist Resistance novel by Elio Vittorini. Mauro Bolognini's Libera, amore mio (Libera, My Love, 1975) and Giuliano Montaldo's L'Agnese va a morire (And Agnes Chose to Die, 1976) were two of a very small number of films that attempted to portray the Resistance from a female point of view. At the beginning of the 1980s, before fading from sight again for a number of years, the Resistance was given its most poetic and mythical inflection in Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's La notte di San Lorenzo (Night of the Shooting Stars, 1982).After being absent from Italian screens for another decade, the Resistance returned in passing in one episode of the Tavianis' generational chronicle Fiorile (Wild Flower, 1993). By this time, however, there had also developed a historically revisionist reading of the Resistance itself, and the darker side of the movement and its aftermath became the focus for Guido Chiesa's Il caso Martello (The Martello Case, 1992) and Massimo Gugliemi's Gangsters (1992). Five years later Renzo Martinelli's Porzus (1997) portrayed one of the most disturbing episodes of the entire Resistance movement when, in February 1945, a large group of Communist partisans massacred 22 members of the rival Catholic-inspired Osoppo Brigade outside a small village in northern Italy, close to the Yugoslav border. Although the film appeared to be based on firm historical evidence, its depiction of the Resistance was controversial and highly contested. The more traditional interpretation of the Resistance as the heroic struggle for freedom from tyranny returned in Daniele Luchetti's I piccoli maestri (Little Teachers, 1998), which recounts the story of a number of idealistic university students who follow their professor into the hills in order to fight for a just cause. A heroic view of the Resistance also grounds Guido Chiesa's recent adaptation of Beppe Fenoglio's classic Resistance novel, Il Partigiano Johnny (Johnny the Partisan, 2000).
Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.