Roberto Rossellini’s Escape By Night

Written by Joe D on June 26th, 2012

I watched this film last night and what can I say, I stayed awake till it was done and I didn’t turn it off, two big criteria in my home theater viewing habits, I enjoyed this film for several reasons. It’s a good story with excellent acting, nicely shot, most of it takes place in the Eternal City Roma, we get to see Italy only 15 years after WWII so it’s still pretty close to how it was. Most of the dialog is in Italian (even though the main titles are in French) so I can practice my comprehension. It’s a polyglot film, with people speaking Italian, English, Russian, Latin. A wartime film featuring occupying Nazis and escaped prisoners of war. A Russian, an Englishman, and an American to be precise. I like how the characters represent their respective cultures, sort of like the characters in The Third Man. The story kind of meanders along but in a very enjoyable way then suddenly veers into violence and death. I usually don’t like such an abrupt change of tone but Rossellini pulls it off, probably because he lived through that time of trauma and he brings that reality to it. This movie is a good example of what elevates a great director from just a journeyman, everything is well done in the film, the story is interesting, the acting good but there is some indescribable something that makes the film more enjoyable to watch than it should be, a “Lubitsch touch” as it were. It’s not the editing, the music, the setting,it’s everything, it’s the reflected talents of a man of taste and genius, Roberto Rossellini.

I have not seen enough of his films and this one inspires me to see more, how about a Major Retrospective of his work! Maybe they can get one of his other masterpieces, his daughter Isabella to emcee it. And this film is available on Netflix streaming.