“Roman Holiday” is one of those movies that gets better when you think about when it came out. In 1953, the world was still healing from World War II, especially in Europe, and the ideology of the “classic fairytale” was being questioned. “Roman Holiday” holds itself in a strange twilight zone where it is a fairytale in all the best places, while also challenging what a fairytale can and cannot do.
Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is the princess of a fictional country in Europe, as she makes a tour around the continent as a show of good will and faith in her fellow people. She stops in Rome and is exhausted from her duties as princess and embassador, breaking down one night after realizing she’s not having any fun. Shortly after, Ann sneaks out onto the streets of Rome and is picked up by an American reporter, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck). The next day, Ann is still missing from the palace but Joe realizes he has the story of the century and convinces Ann to go on a personal tour of Rome with him.
As I look up information on “Roman Holiday” I found it odd that people consider this a “romantic comedy.” I get the comedy, which is intricately worked into Hepburn’s desire to explore the world yet has inexperience with how life operates on the street while Peck tries to be sneaky about his identity and true motives around the princess. It is the “romantic” part I don’t get. For most of the film, Peck and Hepburn share a friendship where they both feel they could benefit from the other.
Watching “Roman Holiday” is like seeing two really good friends share an afternoon together seeing the sites and enjoying each other’s company. By the end, I wasn’t convinced that the two loved each other, just that they were both looking for companionship and this was there brief yet only chance. Which is what makes the ending so bittersweet yet perfect, said with little to no words from either Hepburn or Peck.
Overall, I enjoyed “Roman Holiday” as a charming tourist comedy. This was Audrey Hepburn’s American film debut and she exudes elegance while having fun with everything that is thrown at her, making this my favorite role from her. The city of Rome has never looked better and the film captures the people and atmosphere of Rome better than any movie I’ve seen before. If you want to experience Rome without paying to go there, watch “Roman Holiday.”
Final Grade: B