Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Directed by Roberto Rossellini and screenplay by Sergio Amidei, Gian Paolo Callegari, Art Cohn, and Renzo Cesana from a story by Rossellini, Stromboli is the story of a Lithuanian refugee whose marriage to an Italian fisherman forces her to question the decisions she’s made in her life following the end of World War II. The film is a mixture of traditional melodrama but with an air of neorealism which plays into a woman coping with her identity and the new environment she is following her stay at a war prison camp. Starring Ingrid Bergman, Mario Vitale, Renzo Cesana, and Mario Sponza. Stromboli is a chilling yet mesmerizing film from Roberto Rossellini.

The film revolves around a refugee who meets and marries an Italian POW as they live in his home island of Stromboli in Italy where she endures a world that is completely foreign to her with people that see her as an outsider. It’s a film that explores a woman living in this island with her husband who hasn’t had the worldly experience that she had while her surroundings in this island with an active volcano. At the same time, the residents are people who are wary of outsiders as they don’t see her as modest nor humble as Karin (Ingrid Bergman) tries to adjust to her situation and marriage. Yet, life with Antonio (Mario Vitale) becomes troubling as Antonio isn’t mature nor willing to broaden things in his life as he wants to stay the way things are. The film’s script plays into not just Karin’s own plight but also her attempts to fit in with the aid of a priest and a lighthouse keeper.

Roberto Rossellini’s direction is very complex for not just the sense of realism that he creates but also infuse it with an air of melodrama. Many of the scenes involving Antonio’s fishing and life in the island of Stromboli are presented with that documentary approach to display these things as something that is real. It adds to the sense of despair that Karin would endure in her surroundings as it feels too real for her. Most notably the danger that lurks in the island as it adds a lot of weight to the drama. While much of the landscape of Stromboli was shot on the exact location where it villages and residents are characters in the film. It does play into something that is sort of cut off from the rest of the world which Karin is confused by as her attempts to connect with others become impossible where she would even get the help of another village outsider which adds to her alienation. Especially for the climax where Rossellini’s usage of the locations and the close-ups he capture in Karin’s face says it all. Overall, Rossellini creates an evocative yet haunting film about a woman dealing with a new and harsh environment.

Cinematographer Otello Martelli does excellent work with the black-and-white cinematography as it has this air of realism in its look as well in some of the exteriors and interior scenes at night while using some artificial light for a few dramatic moments. Editor Iolanda Benvenuti does brilliant work with the editing as it is very straightforward with some stylish cuts to play into the drama and some of action that occurs in the daily environment of the fishermen. The sound work of Terry Kellum and Eraldo Giordani is terrific for the natural sound that occurs including the locations of the sea and the sound of the volcano in the island. The film’s music by Renzo Rossellini is fantastic for its soaring orchestral score that plays into the dramatic elements of the film while music director Constantin Bakaleinikoff provides a soundtrack filled with traditional Italian sea chants and other traditional folk songs in that world.

Much of the film’s cast features largely non-professional actors as many of them are actual residents of Stromboli which plays to the realistic tone of the film while there’s a couple of notable small performances from Mario Sponzo as the kind lighthouse man who offers to help Karin out and Renzo Cesana as the village priest who tries to reason with Karin while understanding that Antonio is just a simple young man. Mario Vitale is superb as Antonio as a young soldier who takes Karin to his home island unaware of what her needs are as he’s essentially a simpleton that really has no broad view of the world outside of Stromboli or Italy. Finally, there’s Ingrid Bergman in a remarkable performance as Karin as this Lithuanian refugee who is freed from camp by marrying Antonio hoping for a better life as she contends with her surroundings and marriage as it’s a very gripping and towering performance from Bergman.

Stromboli is an incredible film from Roberto Rossellini that features an exhilarating performance from Ingrid Bergman. The film isn’t just one of Rossellini’s more compelling films that blends his neorealist ideas with melodrama but also stands as one of his most accessible films. In the end, Stromboli is a phenomenal film from Roberto Rossellini.

Roberto Rossellini Films: (La Vispa Teresa) - (Desiderio) - (Paisan) - (L’Amore-Il Miracolo) - Rome, Open City - (Germany Year Zero) - The Flowers of St. Francis - (Medico Condotto) - (The Seven Deadly Sins-Envie, L’Envy) - Machine to Kill Bad People) - Europe ‘51 - (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

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