Paisan (1946) – Roberto Rossellini

Tapestry of crushingly sad tales of war from Roberto Rosselini, the second part of his brilliant war trilogy. While on the surface about specific stories of one particular campaign, Paisan does the best job of the three shedding light on the distrust and violence that exists between people. Paisan is cynical and heartbreaking but poignant enough that it doesn’t make that cynicism a gimmick. Spike Lee used Paisan as an influence on his Miracle at St. Anna but it reminds me more of his masterpiece, Do the Right Thing. There are no well-defined villians in Paisan. The film has empathy for all but pulls no punches and is realistic about the way it shows bad things happening and good people doing ugly things. It also harkens on the brilliant line from Renoir’s Rules of the Game, “The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.” Rossellini, along with Renoir, were at the forefront of European cinema in the prewar and post war periods, they must have had the same thought.

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