Much of the great cinema of the 20th Century reflected on the horror of the world wars and these three films provide a glimpse into Europe during this period; the first to The Great War, the second to World War II, and the third to the changed post-war landscape
Rome, Open City (1945) dir. Roberto Rossellini
There are certain pieces of cinema where you can draw a line in a sand, point to it, and say, “Before and after.” “The Jazz Singer,” with its introduction of synched-sound is one of them. “Citizen Kane” with its innovative cinematography and storytelling is certainly another. “Rome, Open City,” chronicling the effects of World War II in The Eternal City, is absolutely a third. Jumpstarting the neorealist movement in Italy, cinema would never be the same again once audiences were presented such a stark, raw reflection of life. The French, inspired by this and the neorealist pieces that followed, and were inspired to find a cinema which reflected and invoked France. Filmmakers such as Scorsese’s cinema can be traced back to this movement.
A nexus point in cinema history.
The Third Man (1949) dir. Carol Reed
There’s a particular kind of magic to this film, isn’t there? The snippy dialogue. The film noir aesthetic. The playful score. The exuberant joy of Orson Welles’ performance when he finally arrives (with a smirk) incorrigible Harry Lime. It almost makes one forget we are traipsing around a very much post-war Vienna.
But maybe that’s it. Yes, the facade is fun and fanciful at times, but it’s masking a tragic underbelly. Isn’t all great noir?