Rossellini recounts the liberation of Italy during WWII in six distinct episodes. The film's style is the foundation on which the whole aesthetic of neo-realism was built: endless establishing shots, and long 'neutral' takes that allow each viewer to make up his own mind about the characters. But the choked-back sentimentality of much of the action (GI doesn't recognise prostitute as the girl he once loved, etc) belongs to a very much older tradition than the visual style. Only the long, final episode in the Po Valley remains wholly impressive: its view of the sheer arbitrariness of warfare anticipates some of Jancsó's abstractions.
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