Roberto Rossellini

"I try to capture reality, nothing else."

Roberto Rossellini

Born in Rome in 1906, Rossellini was a shaping force in Italy's neorealist cinema. Typically working with non-professional actors, Rossellini's method incorporated their improvisations, personal stories and idiosyncrasies to cultivate a feeling of realistic imediacy. Accents, local settings and costume where likewise lifted straight from his actors' real lives. 

Key to this approach was the ability to change the course of a scene mid-capture, filming and refilming based on the dynamics of the shoot. "An author writes a sentence or page, then crosses it out. A painter uses a red, then paints it out with a green. Why shouldn't I be able to cross things out too, to remake and replace film? This is why I don't think you can have a fixed script. If I thought you could, I'd think of myself as a scriptwriter. But I'm not a scriptwriter. I make films."

The impact of Rossellini's freewheeling approach can by seen in thesubsequent films of the French New Wave and, notably, in the films of Martin Scorsese.

The BFI is proud to present a range of Rosselini titles on DVD.

Our own Geoff Andrew takes an in-depth look at Rossellini's Journey to Italy here.