Stromboli, terra di dio

TSPDT Greatest Films #520 Stromboli (Roberto Rossellini, 1950)

The first collaboration of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini. It is during the production of Stromboli that Bergman had an extra-marital affair with Rossellini and got pregnant. At the time she got blacklisted by Hollywood.

Karin a young woman accepts to marry Antonio to escape from a WWII prisoner's camp. After the wedding they move to Antonio's hometown: Stromboli. A small island North of Sicilia where there's always a current menace of the eruptions of the volcano. In this story the volcano symbolizes the power and the wrath of god. The reason Karin married Antonio was to escape from the prisoner's camp, well she wanted freedom, but the island where she is confined is even worse than the camp.

Rossellini, who influenced largely some of the best directors of the French New Wave distincted himself for his approach; he worked without a script with only some personnal notes. It may be why there are many long takes. The long takes are also used here to emphasize the loneliness of Karin in her house and on the island. In some case it gives a sense of realism to the story but also it lets enough space and time for the actors to improvise in many scenes. With Stromboli, Roberto Rossellini created moments of intensity that only Italian Neorealism could have achieved.

This other lesson about war demonstrated by Roberto Rossellini, shows how society (or Italy) should stop being so selfish and think to try to built a better world for its future. The idea of the story is very subtil and unlike Germany Year Zero of Rome Open City the broad lines are fuzier in Stromboli but no less interesting or clever.

A review by Michaël Parent

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