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Paisan (Italian: Paisà) is a 1946 neorealist war drama directed by Roberto Rossellini. It's the second film in his war trilogy (after Rome, Open City and before Germany, Year Zero) and quite different from the other two in that it's divided into separate stories, each penned by a different scribe, including Federico Fellini and Marcello Pagliero. All six episodes take place on occasions (lasting no longer than a day) over a period of several months when the Allies were driving the Germans back northward through Italy. A major theme throughout the film is language barriers, mainly between the Italians and Americans. There are other barriers too; for example that between a soldier and a child who's lost his parents to the war—in this case it's a barrier of misunderstanding the predicament of the other, or a failure to empathize, which is another dominant theme. Another barrier, in the fifth episode, consists of divergent "bricks" of religious piety, tolerance, and interpretations of faith, this between the chaplains (one Catholic, one Jewish, one Protestant) and the hospitable but rather unworldly monks in a recently liberated monastery. Rossellini in all three films shows how war affects everyday people, with the suffering of boys spotlighted and a focus on how war, hunger, desperation and the will to survive changes people.


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