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Paisan (1946)

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Paisan (1946) Roberto Rossellini followed-up his anti-war masterpiece, Rome, Open City, with this equally brilliant sextet that examines the tenuous relationship between newly liberated Italians and their American saviors.  Starting in Sicily, and working his way North, Rossellini shows the dogged determination of German troops to fight to the bitter end, as World War II’s closing days were among the deadliest. In the first, and perhaps most poignant segment, a young, wary Sicilian peasant woman acts as a guide for American G.I.s, and in the process bonds with a soldier, despite the language barrier.  A black military policeman in Naples responds to theft with generosity.  And in Rome, an encounter between a woman forced by poverty into prostitution, and an intoxicated American, reveal a history, and a tantalizing opportunity for a new life. In each of the six stories, an insurmountable fatalism gets in the way of reconciliation.  Using primarily non-professional actors, in the tradition of neorealism, Paisan is a timeless tale of the fragility of human happiness amidst the seemingly insatiable desire for conflict.  

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