Rossellini's realism isn't any less contrived or manipulative than classical Hollywood styles. 'Simplicity,' rather than 'realism' might be a more accurate word in this sense. The film still lies, '24 frames a second.'
But its lie is convincing; Paisan feels much more natural and more 'real' than a different war film might have been. We spend our viewing time thinking about the real Italians and Americans, without being distracted from the on-screen drama.
A lot of Italian realism is very boring to me. Perhaps the style requires a priority of plotted excitement for me to stay awake. Paisan certainly kept me engaged. I had planned to watch the 6 different episodic stories in different sittings, but I ended up staying through the whole DVD.
Like with Rossellini's similarly themed Rome, Open City, Federico Fellini assisted with the writing of Paisan, getting credit for the monastery scene.
Paisan is #118 on the Top 1000 Films list I’m working on. I’ve now seen 358.