Roberto Rossellini was born into the world of film in 1906 in Rome as his father had opened Italy's first cinema. Fascinated by the mechanics of cinema, he began making films as a teenager, completing an apprenticeship as an assistant to Italian filmmakers. In 1938, Vittorio Mussolini, movie-executive and son of the Italian dictator, invited Roberto to direct a documentary about an Italian hospital ship. Rossellini expanded it, and 'La Nava Bianca' was released in 1941. Using a hand-held camera, he began work in 1943 on a film 'Desiderio'. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete it, and it was not until 1945 that he was to begin work on his first classic, 'Rome Open City'. Ignoring invitations from Hollywood, he remained in Italy to film further influential works, such as 'Paisa' and 'Germania Anno Zero'. In 1949 he met, and became lovers with, the actress Ingrid Bergman, whose scandalous elopement led to their collaboration throughout 1949-1953 on, amongst other films, 'Stromboli' in 1949. They worked together on 'Europa 51' in 1951 and 'Voyage to Italy' in 1953, which became their most successful joint venture. After conducting an affair with an Indian scriptwriter in 1957, Rossellini and Bergman parted. In 1959, 'General Della Rovere' restored his reputation, after which he devoted himself to TV movies, specialising in irreverent biographies of great figures from history such as Louis XIV and Socrates, starting with 'The Flowers of St Francis' (1950) and 'Joan of Arc At The Stake' (1954). His last, controversial film was 'Il Messia', released in 1978. He died on 4 June 1977.