Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Trapped: Ingrid Bergman
STROMBOLI (aka Stromboli: Terra di Dio/Land of God/1950). Director: Roberto Rossellini. NOTE: This is the Italian version.

"Even those born here want to leave."

Lithuanian Karen (Ingrid Bergman) is living in a camp for displaced persons in Italy after World War 2. According to her story, she had a husband who was killed in the war, but there are those who think she is deceptive. In the camp she meets, and then marries, a soldier named Antonio (Mario Vitale), who takes her home to the volcanic island of Stromboli where he'll be a fisherman. There she is horrified to discover that she'll be living in a stark place on a barren landscape where people are narrow-minded and unfriendly, and she finds herself going crazy. She decides that she has to get out of this situation no matter what ... Stromboli was excoriated by many critics at the time of its release because of the adulterous affair between star Bergman and director Rossellini, which unfortunately overshadowed the film itself. While the plot of the movie is nothing like Bergman's real life, there are certain parallels, but whatever the case Stromboli is a memorable film. Rossellini wisely filmed on Stromboli itself, giving it an atmosphere that no studio could have duplicated. He used the islanders as extras, and also cast two real-life fisherman as Karen's romantic interests. Mario Vitale, who plays her husband, had a few credits after this picture, while Mario Sponzo, who plays a lighthouse keeper, only appeared in this movie; it's hard to judge how good they are as actors but they are both effective in their roles. Renzo Cesana is excellent as the island priest; this was his first credit but he later did much work for American television. Bergman gives another wonderful performance, and the film builds up to a poignant and powerful conclusion. Rossellini's brother, Renzo, has contributed an excellent score for the film, Otello Martelli's cinematography is first-rate, and there's some insightful dialogue in a screenplay in which several writers had a hand. There are certain aspects of the film that, oddly, remind one of Beyond the Forest, but to say they are very different movies is a major understatement.

NOTE: Before falling in love with Bergman, Rossellini's previous mistress was Anna Magnani, who was so angered by her lover's actions that she made her own Stromboli- like movie, Volcano, the same year.

Verdict: Not quite a masterpiece but an Italian classic with a striking lead performance. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - Have never seen this one, but looks like I need to.
Was always fascinated by how the beloved Bergman was toppled from her pedestal for doing something frail and human...she did leave her husband and child to run off with Rosselini, but more than 10 years before, Vivien Leigh had left her own husband and child for married man Laurence Olivier, but it was never publicized because it would have hurt the box office of Gone with the Wind and Wuthering Heights!


William said...

Yes, Bergman's behavior was typical Hollywood, but her image was so sacrosanct that it made a difference, and she caused a lot of pain for her husband and daughter. Her running off with Rossellini were not the actions of a mature person. Her career always came first throughout her life.