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Liberation Cinema: Rossellini’s Ten Commandments

November 3, 2013

Rossellini’s Ten Commandments


Ingrid Bergman in still from Roberto Rossellini’s “Stromboli,” 1950.

Roberto Rossellini’s Ten Commandments on film-making he gave to his students at the Centro Sperimentale,

1. The camera is a pen, a plain ordinary Bic, easy to use. It’s enough to know what you want to say – if you have something to say.
2. The camera is a paper tiger. Don’t mythify it.
3. Therefore the image must exist first in your head. The camera can’t substitute for the absence of an image in your head. Therefore learn to think in images; it’s useless to expect miracles from the camera. ‘You really have to reduce filming to the simplicity of a pencil, so you have no more worries about the medium and all your worries can concern your thoughts.’
4. Making films is easy. People say it’s difficult in order to stop you.
5. When I say film I don’t mean commercial cinema, which is dead, and only good for letting filmmakers tell themselves, ‘Ah! How wonderful I am!’
6. Make films that will be useful for others, not for yourself.
7. What’s useful? Knowledge, without which we’d be beasts. The brain is used to think with, not just to wear a hat.
8. Using film to spread knowledge means doing research. Ideas and subjects aren’t invented by moonlight but in the library.
9. I don’t like being known as a director. I prefer to be a good pilot, a man. The principal craft is to be a man, curious, fascinated, responsible, occupied with the problems of the world.
10. My only role here is the guardian of your liberty.

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