MoMA's 10th annual International Festival of Film Preservation will unveil the restored version of Roberto Rossellini's "Il Generale della Rovere," presented for the first time since the film's premiere in 1959 at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion in its original uncut glory. Talk about a once-in-a-half-century opportunity.
"Il Generale" marked a return for Rossellini to World War II themes more than a decade after his Neorealist trilogy (including "Rome: Open City," "Paisa" and "Germany Year Zero") concluded in 1948, and was one of his most commercially and critically successful dramas. It stars his friend and fellow Neorealist filmmaker Vittorio De Sica as a conman compelled by the Nazis to impersonate a partisan hero.
The version screening at MoMA is ten minutes longer than the original Italian theatrical cut, and will be showcased in a brand new 35mm print. New Yorkers have two opportunites to catch it: Monday, October 22 and Friday, October 26. The film's restoration is a collaboration between RaroVideo and the museum.
"Il Generale" is only a taste of the delicious offerings the Festival of Film Preservation, also cleverly titled "To Save and Project," has in store. Check out Dave Kehr's recent NY Times highlight piece on the upcoming fest, where he discusses a new print of Jacques Demy's debut feature "Lola" (struck and revitalized from the sole-existing, faded TV print negative), various pre-code goodies and a full day of political films, including a Richard Nixon Super-8 home movie collection.