Rome, Open City (1945)

Brief Intro

Rome, Open City, directed by Roberto Rossellini and released in 1945, is a seminal film in Italian Neorealism. Set during the Nazi occupation of Rome in 1944, it presents a stark, poignant portrayal of resistance and survival through the lives of ordinary Italians. The film’s raw, documentary-like style and compelling narrative have made it a landmark in world cinema.

Literary Devices Used in Rome, Open City


Movie SceneDevice Example
Don Pietro’s executionThe priest is executed by the very forces he spiritually condemns.
Pina’s hope for freedomPina is killed while chasing after the truck carrying her fiancé, representing the harsh reality of war.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Don Pietro’s CrossSymbolizes faith and resilience against oppression.
The children’s final sceneRepresents the next generation’s hope and determination for a better future.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Giorgio’s arrestForeshadows the brutal treatment of resistance fighters.
Pina’s ominous conversationSuggests the impending tragedy of her death.


Movie SceneDevice Example
The Resistance MovementRepresents the broader struggle for freedom against fascism.
Don Pietro’s roleEmbodies the moral and spiritual resistance against tyranny.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Scenes of daily life vs. warHighlights the contrast between normalcy and the chaos of occupation.
Nazi officials vs. Italian citizensEmphasizes the power imbalance and human suffering.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Bells ringingRecurs to symbolize moments of significant change or realization.
Streets of RomeRepeatedly shown to underscore the setting as a character itself.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Rome as an “open city”Metaphor for vulnerability and exposure during wartime.
Don Pietro’s martyrdomRepresents the ultimate sacrifice for a greater cause.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Pina’s deathEvokes deep sorrow and sympathy from the audience.
Don Pietro comforting GiorgioHighlights the emotional bond and shared suffering.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Torture scenesIntensified to convey the brutality of the occupiers.
Pina’s passionate speechExaggerated to reflect the intensity of her emotions.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Don Pietro’s faith vs. executionA priest killed in an act of faith.
Resistance as peaceful yet violentRepresents the struggle to maintain peace through acts of violence.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Don Pietro

Character Studies

IronyDon Pietro, a symbol of peace and faith, becomes a victim of violence.
SymbolismHis cross and final moments represent unwavering faith and sacrifice.

Character Dynamics

JuxtapositionHis calm demeanor contrasts with the chaos around him, highlighting his inner strength.
PathosHis interactions with other characters elicit deep emotional responses from the audience.


Character Studies

PathosPina’s tragic death is a poignant moment, illustrating the cost of war on ordinary people.
ForeshadowingHer conversations and actions early in the film hint at her tragic fate.

Character Dynamics

MetaphorPina represents the spirit of resistance and the human cost of war.
HyperboleHer passionate speeches and actions highlight the desperation and determination of the occupied citizens.

Major Themes and Their Representation

Sacrifice and Resistance

SymbolismDon Pietro’s execution and Giorgio’s torture symbolize the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
JuxtapositionThe contrast between the ordinary lives and the resistance efforts highlights the theme of sacrifice.

Human Resilience

MotifRecurrent scenes of the children reflect the resilience and hope for the future.
PathosEmotional scenes, such as Pina’s death, emphasize the enduring human spirit.

Oppression and Injustice

IronyThe oppressive regime executing a priest symbolizes the perversion of justice.
AllegoryThe resistance movement as a whole serves as an allegory for the fight against oppression.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismLighting and shadowsHighlight the moral contrasts and character dynamics.
JuxtapositionCamera anglesUse contrasting angles to emphasize power dynamics and emotional states.

Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
PathosMusic and silenceUse of somber music or silence to amplify emotional impact.
IronyDiegetic soundsSounds from the environment that contrast with the visual scene to create irony.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

Pina’s Death

  • Scene Breakdown: Pina is gunned down while chasing after the truck carrying her fiancé. This scene is a powerful representation of the human cost of war.
  • YouTube Link: Pina’s Death

Don Pietro’s Execution

  • Scene Breakdown: The priest’s calm acceptance of his fate contrasts with the brutal execution, highlighting themes of faith and sacrifice.
  • YouTube Link: Don Pietro’s Execution

Final Scene with the Children

  • Scene Breakdown: The children walk away, symbolizing hope and the future of Italy. This scene underscores the theme of resilience.
  • YouTube Link: Final Scene


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which device highlights the irony in Don Pietro’s execution?
  2. What does Pina’s death symbolize?
    • A) The futility of resistance
    • B) The cost of war on ordinary people
    • C) The strength of human spirit
  3. Which motif is recurrent in the film to symbolize hope?
    • A) The cross
    • B) The children
    • C) The streets of Rome