Open City and the Night of the Shooting Stars

OpenCity and the Night of the Shooting Stars

Fascismis an ideology developed in Italy and is linked to the Mussolini rulein 1922 to 1943. Fascism was rooted in nationalism and the desire toexpand the Italian territories for superiority and establish controlover the Mediterranean Sea. As such, Fascism grew out of the questfor imperialism, spiritual and cultural superiority against otherraces such as the Slavic, Germans, Hellenic and the Latin. Prior theWorld War II, tensions had accelerated between the Nazis and theFascists over race hegemony in the region. The Germans considered theItalians as lesser Mediterranean sub tribe race that did not fit thesuperior white race. In fact, Hitler argued that Italians were hadNegloid blood and did not fall into the Nordic races. To this end,the Nazis looked down on Italians as racially inferior to the Nordicraces. However, the Nazis saw Northern Italians as Nordic racescompared to the Southern Italians leading to partisanship among theItalians. It is at the height of these conflicts that the Germansinvaded Italy during World War II. As such, the resistant against theNazis was laden with partisanship by some Italians as depicted in thefilms OpenSocietyand TheNight of shooting stars.

Briefoverview of the two films

`OpenCity` by Rossellini

The‘Open City’ is an Italian film directed by Rossellini and was setin Rome during the Nazi occupation in 1944. The film shows a struggleagainst Nazism and the Fascist by the Italians. The film is centeredon a partisan resistant struggle against German occupation of Italy.‘Open City’ is centered on the life of Giorgio Manfredi acommunist leader of the resistant movement in Italy. ‘Open City’is a documentary realism film that captures an enduring struggleagainst evil. The film has two parts one part captures the dailylives of resistant fighters in Rome (Giorgio, Francesco, Pina andMarcello).

Rossellinicaptures a portrait of a whole community united against The Nazievils with all contributing to the resistance (from priests, pregnantwomen to children). It is no doubt the Opencityis the work of a wartime experienced director at the height offascist tyranny. Rossellini brings out the humanistic issuesexperienced during the resistant the local who are starving are inmoral dilemma on whether to steal food for survival or starve todeath. In the midst of these struggles aspiration to live normallives are evident. Pin and Francesco plans for wedding despite theprevailing circumstances ostensibly Rossellini wanted to depict thequest for normal life. In addition, Rossellini juxtaposes the filmscenes with surprising humorous moments despite the dark scenes thatcharacterize the whole film.

TheNight of the Shooting Starsby Polo Taviani and Vittorio Taviani

‘TheNight of the Shooting Stars’ is another film that portrays theItalian struggle against the German’s Fascist and Nazism. The filmcentral focus is a small village that refuses to collaborate with theNazis.However,some villagers seem to agree with the ideological orientation as theNazis with an exception of few brave partisan citizens. The film istold through the memory of a young girl who recalls the falling ofstar and the beginning of war. The film shows the Americans and theItalians pushing the Germans who are retreating during the end ofWorld War II. The locals are torn between fleeing and taking refugein the local Cathedral where some Germans promise their safety. Theoverall plot in the film is resistant partisanship between those whodecide to join the Americans or the Nazis.


Thetwo films depict the various struggles and resistance by Italianagainst the Nazism evil. In particular, the two films capture Duggan(2007) sentiments on how Fascism ideology shaped the Italian societyand how different people responded to Nazism. Duggan argues that itwas evident even before World War II that the Nazis hated theItalians prior the World War II the Germans considered the Nazi’sas lesser Nordic race. In fact during the Mussolini rule, the Germansloathed and abused Italians as belonging to lesser Mediterraneansocieties such as the Negloid (Passmore 53). The Germans perceivedtheir race as superior Nordic race that was culturally superior tothe Italian Fascist, Rossellini and Tarvian brothers captures theseaspects in their films.

Rossellinifilm portrays overt hatred extended by the Germans on Italians at theheight of World War II. In the film, ‘Open Society’ the Nazisregards themselves as ‘master race’ while the Italians areregarded as the ‘slave race.’ In this scene, Rossellini shiftsthe camera position and focuses on Gestapo Chief as he tortures andmocks Giorgio. The scene shots are rather dark although the scene isshot in daylight. However, the scenes lighten up as Giorgio dies andthe camera shift to Marina and a German officer as they stumble onthe scene. Similarly, in the film ‘the shooting of the star’ theGermans regard the Fascist Italian fighters as barbarians and requestthe freeing villagers to seek refuge in a local church (Duggan 226).In the two films, ‘the Nazis were depicted as ruthless, atheist andsadist’ killing children and women. While the Nazis portraythemselves as the ‘moral’ race, the Italian Fascist perceive theNazis as evil and atheist. For instance, in the film ‘Open Society’the Nazis mocks priest Don Pietro faith in God and even makes thepriest watches as they torture Giorgio to death. In contrast, in thefilm ‘the night of shooting stars,’ the Nazis are portrayed as‘good’ people and offer refuge to villagers freeing the fight(Taviani’s film).

Rossellinifilm ‘open city’ depicts a united resistance against the Nazievils. In contrast, the Tavian brothers’ film depicts anideologically divided village composed of partisan Italians who aretorn between joining the Americans or the Nazis. The differencesportrayed by the film directors in the films on Nazi versus Fascistvariation in resistance are replica of the prevailing conditionsduring Mussolini Rule (Duggan 540). At the height of the German andItalian racial conflict, the Northern Italians and the SouthernItalians were divided in their perception of Nazis take on Italianrace (Duggan 233). The Nazi perceived the North Italians as more‘Germans’ than the Southern Italians who were thought to belesser in Nordic race (Passmore 54). This aspect is well captured byRossellini’s film that depicts the Nazis torturers claiming thatthey belong to the ‘master race.’

Historicalevents discussed by Passmore and Duggan in relation to fascism

Intheir historical accounts of Fascism, Passmore and Duggan focused onthe influence of Mussolini rule on the development of Fascism inItaly (Passmore 56). In particular, the historians point the tensionsbetween the Germans and the Italian racial tensions that culminatedto Nazism and Fascism fights at the height of World War II (Duggan538). These tensions were caused by other factors such as the banningof German language in Italy and the imposition of mandatoryItalianization for all populations living in Italy (Duggan 234).These events are not adequately captures in the film but theireffects are felt. For instance the racial superiority is the mainissue of conflict the Germans considered themselves a superiorNordics race while the Italians were seen as lesser race (Passmore56).

Onone account, Mussolini enraged the Germans by stating the German racedid not exist and this exacerbated the tension between the twonations (Duggan 224). This created division between the North and theSouthern Italian and this is well captured by Rosselini in his film‘Open City.’ On one scene Tavianis film shoots a scene portrayingthe partisan peasants as they duck through hail of bullets from theFascist as they ran towards the Germans. In this way, the Tavianbrothers wanted to illustrate a changing Italian society thatseparated them from extreme Fascism even at the height of Nazismterror. The shots in this scene are melodramatic the camera isfocused on the advancing crowd of peasants illustrating how some arekilled while others dodge bullets. The scene is also well lit andfull of wailing sounds from women and children. The overall sceneinstills fear but successful helps to illustrate the brutality of theFascist.

Rossellinidepicts the resistant against the Nazis ideology through the effortsof a united Italian community (Duggan 531). In contrast, the Tavianbrothers’ film illustrates partisanship in the resistant struggles.Possibly, the Tavianis film wanted to depict the divided Italiannation on the basis of ideological perception with regard to NazisNordics claims of Northern and Southern Italians (Duggan 234).However, the film directors capture major events as happened priorthe War especially during Mussolini rule and during the World War II.For instance, in the ‘Open City’ film directed by Rossellini, theItalian community as portrayed as having strong nationalism values(Passmore 53). The priests, children and women are all united againstthe Nazi evils (Duggan 531).

Althoughthe two films capture major Italian cultural historical aspects,there is a variation on how they promote the rebirth of the modernItalian society (Duggan 235). For instance, the Tavian brothersillustrate a partisan society during the Fascism and war and thisillustrates the weakening of Fascism in the postwar period. Incontrast, Rossellini depicts an Italian society that was united bythe values of Fascism against the Nazi evils (Passmore 57).

Inaddition, Rossellini presents the film in casual scenes to illustratecontinuity of life amid terror. Unlike the Tavianis melodramatic andformative film, Rossellini film is neorealist with less melodrama.The scenes in the ‘open city’ are less dramatic but capturescenes as they would happen in real experience. However, Rossellinishots are rather captivating. For instance, in one scene the priestis filmed while standing between a saint figure and a statute of anude woman. The priest tries to look away from the voluptuous nudefigure. The scenes shots are symbolic in that the nude figurerepresents sins and the Italians (saints) considered the Germans asevil for invading their country (Duggan 535).

Rosselliniutilizes various scene shots to capture and emphasize particularobjects that are important for the film’s theme. ‘The night ofshooting stars’ is also filmed in series of captivating scenes mostof which are melodramatic. For instance, in one shot, Tavians depictspeasants ducking through hail of bullets as they escape the fighting.The film directors utilize these cinematic techniques to capture thereality of Fascism and Nazism struggle.


Thefilms ‘Open Society’ and ‘The Night of shooting stars’reflect the Italian resistant struggle against the Nazis. Inparticular, the film directors capture major issues as they occurredin the Italian cultural history during Fascism and Nazism. The twofilms are set in post war Italian society and portray thepartisanship that characterized the rebirth of the new Italiansociety. Although the Italians expressed strong Fascism values priorwar, the struggle and resistant against the Nazis defragmented theFascism ideology leading to divided and partisan society. Overall,Fascism values weakened depicting a new era.


DugganChristopher, &quotForging the Fascist Nation.&quot A ConciseHistory of Modern Italy. UK: Cambridge University Press. 2013, pp.221-244. Print.

DugganChristopher, “The Values of the Resistance,” The Force ofDestiny. United States: University of Michigan. 2007, pp. 538-547.Print.

PassmoreKevin, Italy:making history with the fist, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction,UK: Oxford University Press. 2014, pp. 50-61. Print.

RosselliniRoberto, “Rome, Open City.” 1945. Retrieved from Rome, Open Cityat the Internet Movie Database.

TavianiPaolo and Vittorio Taviani, “The Night of the Shooting Stars.”1982. Retrieved from the Night of the Shooting Stars at AllMovie