Saturday, September 26, 2015

Europe '51

Directed by Roberto Rossellini and screenplay by Sandro de Feo, Mario Pannunzio, Ivo Perilli, and Brunello Rondi from a story by Rossellini, Europe ‘51 is the story of a wealthy woman who is certified insane after the death of young son as she tries to find redemption. The film is an exploration into grief as well as a woman coming to terms with her loss and the need to help others. Starring Ingrid Bergman, Alexander Knox, Sandro Franchina, Ettore Giannini, and Giulietta Masina. Europe ‘51 is an extraordinary and touching film from Roberto Rossellini.

The film is an exploration of a wealthy woman whose life crashes following the suicide attempt of her young son who would unfortunately die from that attempt as her grief forces her to try and help those who are suffering. It’s a story that plays into a woman who sees the world in a different light as she becomes concerned with those who are ill and those that need help as her husband is convinced that she’s having an affair or is becoming insane. The film’s script does play into a traditional structure in which the first act is about Irene (Ingrid Bergman) coping with her son’s suicide attempt and the reality about her sense of neglect towards him. The second act is about her encounter with the poor with the aid of her socialist cousin Andre (Ettore Giannini) as she would also meet a poor mother of six in Passerotto (Giulietta Masina). It then leads to this third act of not just self-realization but also about the world that Irene was once a part of.

Roberto Rossellini’s direction is quite mesmerizing in the way he captures a woman’s plight over her son’s death and the grief that would drive her to do something. Much of the film’s first act has this sense of artificiality and comfort in the atmosphere it’s in as it is shot in these more posh areas of room as the compositions has an air of style. Even in scenes such as Irene finding about her son’s fall from the stairs and the close-ups that Rossellini puts to play into the drama. By the film’s second and third act, the air of realism becomes prominent where Rossellini would shoot in these urban areas of Rome where he uses a lot of wide and medium shots to capture the look of the locations as well as Irene’s own broadening view of things.

Though her actions would cause confusion among a group of people including her husband George (Alexander Knox), it does play into Irene’s own sense of growth and her chance to find redemption no matter how much she hates herself for her son’s death. Yet, the people she does touch including a family whose son turns to crime or a prostitute shunned by many as it shows what she tries to do to help them. Overall, Rossellini creates an evocative and harrowing film about a woman who tries to help others in the wake of her grief.

Cinematographer Aldo Tonti does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from some of the exteriors of the urban locations in Rome to some of the more artificial look in some of the interiors in Irene‘s posh apartment home. Editor Iolanda Benvenuti does brilliant work with the editing as much of it is straightforward in terms of the drama while there‘s a notable sequence where Irene goes to a factory as it‘s usage of rhythms help play to her reaction. Production designer Virgilio Marchi and set decorator Ferdinando Ruffo do nice work with the look of the posh apartment that Irene and George live in to the riverside shack that Passerotto lives in. Sound recorder Piero Cavazzuti does terrific work with the sound to capture some of the things that goes on in the urban areas of Rome including the factory. The film’s music by Renzo Rossellini is fantastic for its mixture of somber orchestral music with lush strings to more bombastic arrangements to play into some of the film’s melodrama.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles from Sandro Franchina as George and Irene’s son Michel, Tina Perna as the maid Cesira, Teresa Pellati as the prostitute Ines, Alfred Browne as a priest, and Antonio Pietrangeli as a hospital psychiatrist. Alexander Knox is excellent as Irene’s husband George who ponders his wife’s frequent absences at home as he wonders if she has gone crazy. Ettore Giannini is fantastic as Irene’s cousin Andre whose socialist views would introduce her to the world of the poor and disenfranchised.

Giuletta Masina is amazing as Passerotto as this single mother of six children whom Irene befriends as Masina’s performance is full of charm despite the fact that she and many of the actors’ voices are dubbed in American English for the international version of the film. Finally, there’s Ingrid Bergman in a remarkable performance as Irene as this woman whose grief forces her to see things in a different light as she tries to make a difference to help those of need as it’s a performance full of humility and power from Bergman.

Europe ‘51 is a phenomenal film from Roberto Rossellini that features an incredible performance from Ingrid Bergman. The film isn’t just one of Rossellini’s more compelling dramas but also a unique study of faith and generosity amidst the world of death. Especially in the way post-war Italy still tried to ignore common people at a time when they were in need as a woman with that power tried to do something. In the end, Europe ‘51 is a sensational film from Roberto Rossellini.

Roberto Rossellini Films: (La Vispa Teresa) - (Desiderio) - (Paisan) - (L’Amore-Il Miracolo) - Rome, Open City - (Germany Year Zero) - Stromboli - The Flowers of St. Francis - (Medico Condotto) - (The Seven Deadly Sins-Envie, L’Envy) - (Machine to Kill Bad People) - (We, the Women-Ingrid Bergman) - Journey to Italy - Fear (1954 film) - (Giovanna d’Arco al rogo) - (General della Rovere) - (Escape by Night) - (Viva l’Italia!) - (Vanina Vanini) - (Benito Mussolini) - (Ro.Go.Pa.G.-Illbatezza) - (The Carabineers) - (Rice University) - (Anno uno)

© thevoid99 2015


Stephanie said...

Beautiful review! This sounds like a wonderful movie, but I have a feeling that -- because of the subject matter -- it would be very difficult for me to watch. :-) Nevertheless I'll add it to my list.

thevoid99 said...

It's not that difficult though the version I saw was in English as there's also an Italian version available on Criterion as part of a box-set of films Rossellini did with Bergman.

Anonymous said...

Alright, so I have this on my DVR and I need to watch this before I move and I lose it...and your review is urging me to watch it tonight!

thevoid99 said...

@Fisti-Watch the stuff you have on your DVR and do it now.