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Stromboli, terra di Dio

This is a quite pretty movie. I’ve been a bit disappointed with previous Rossellini movies I’ve watched, but this starts off very nicely indeed.

I’ve never quite understood where Rossellini fit in… he doesn’t seem like a neo-realist, and he’s certainly no Nouvelle Vague director… he seems to exist in a grey area between art movies and commercial movies? But I’m totally uninformed; I know nothing.

If you read film interviews and articles from the 50s, Rossellini is always mentioned… but he seems like he’s largely forgotten these days, except as the father of a different Rossellini.

Ingrid Bergman is wonderful here, though.

I’m watching a 2K restoration by the BFI, but… it could have been restored some more? There’s all irregularities on the brightness that could have been fixed, and the audio is quite hissy. But it’s typical that the BFI would do this box set: They’re the champions of movies that fall between the cracks.

It’s a bit hard to get into the Bergman character’s head space… OK, here’s a plot recap: She (for some reason) was in an Italian post-war camp (she’s from the Baltics), and wanted to ship out to Argentine, but they didn’t take her. So instead she marries this Italian guy and goes off to this island. And is super. Depressed. About. It. All.

Which makes no sense! She was going off to an uncertain future in South America, but instead she marries this hunk, and goes to a gorgeous island in Italy! With a huge house!

Sure, it’s dilapidated, and there’s no jazz clubs on the island, and everybody would balk at that, but… She hunk is super nice! The neighbours are great! The views are incredible!

So Rossellini has really stacked all the cards for Bergman’s character, but we’re still asked to see her as a tragic character, and… that’s just odd?

Perhaps it’ll resolve itself.

OK, now the husband is an asshole.

The casting here is really odd. That is, there’s two hunky guys… and I can’t tell them apart. Which makes a lot of the scenes confusing: Is that her husband or the guy her husband thinks she’s having it off with?!?

This little island seems more populated by the minute.

Oh wow. The tuna scene is amazing.

OK, I was totally into this until the last… fifteen minutes? And then it kinda faded.

But speaking of the BFI — the extras on this bluray are fantastic. First we get a 40 minute interview with Ingrid Bergman from like 1981, and it’s incisive and interesting. Then we get a (quite recent?) fifty minute Italian documentary about Stromboli… and the movie that Rossellini’s er wife? was doing concurrently with Stromboli. It’s really good! Nine thumbs up for the BFI selections.

It looks like this:

Stromboli, Land of God. Roberto Rossellini. 1950.

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