Paisan (1949): Roberto Rossellini’s Follow-Up to Open City

Roberto Rossellini was born in Rome, May 8, 1906 and died June 4, 1977. Often identified with the “neo-realist” label, Rossellini is one of the greatest directors of Italian and world cinema.  He is responsible for the postwar rebirth of Italian cinema and one of the few truly great humanists, along with Frenchman Jean Renoir, to work in the medium.

In the early postwar years, Rossellini succeeded in making Italian cinema the rage of intellectual audiences all over the world. His WWII theme trilogy set the tone for the Italian movement.  Its three basic units were landmarks in the post-War European movement: “Open City” (“Roma Citta Aperta,” 1945); “Paisan” (“Paisa,” 1946); and “Germany Year Zero” (“Germania Anno Zero, 1947).


This landmark neo-realist film consists of six episodes set at the end of WWII in Europe, focusing on the landing of the Allied Forces in Italy and the interaction between the American people and the local people.

The young Federico Fellini was one of the contributors to the screenplay, which was nominated for the Oscar Award (see below).  Rossellini later said that that, in order to promote authenticity, the cast of amateurs was encouraged to improvise some of their lines

In one of the tales, the shoes of a black soldier are stolen by a poor Italian family.  In another, a kind and sensitive nurse desperately tries to locate an old lover who’s been a member of the underground.

Like most of Rossellini’s and De Sica’s films of the late 1940s, “Paisan” employs an ultra-realistic style, which benefits from a non-professional cast and on-location shooting.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Story and Screenplay: Alfred Hayes, Federico Fellini, Sergio Amidei, Marcello Pagliero, Roberto Rossellini.

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Robert Pirosh for the highly acclaimed WWII movie, “Battleground.”


Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Produced by Rod E. Geiger, Rossellini, Mario Conti
Written by Sergio Amidei, Klaus Mann, Federico Fellini, Marcello Pagliero, Alfred Hayes, Vasco Pratolini

Narrated by Giulio Panicali
Music by Renzo Rossellini
Cinematography Otello Martelli
Edited by Eraldo Da Roma
Distributed by Arthur Mayer & Joseph Burstyn

Release date: December 10, 1946

Running time: 126 minutes

TCM showed the movie on April 20, 2021.