Karen, a young woman from the Baltic countries, marries fisherman Antonio to escape from a prisoners camp. But the life in Antonio's village, Stromboli, threatened by the volcano, is a tough one and Karen cannot get used to it.
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Carl Theodor Dreyer
Emil Hass Christensen,
Preben Lerdorff Rye
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Vittorio De Sica
Maria Pia Casilio,
Karen, a young woman from the baltic countries, marries fisherman Antonio to escape from a prisoners camp. But the life in Antonio's village, Stromboli, threatened by the vulcano, is a tough one and Karen can not get used to it. Written by
A change in production company occurred when Ingrid Bergman replaced Anna Magnani as leading actress. The original company reacted by using the same plot for another movie, Volcano (1950), shot at the same time and in nearly the same places as Rossellini's movie. See more »
When the police officer is typing the report, he does not strike nearly enough keys to produce the amount of information shown on the paper. See more »
God... my God... help me! Give me the strength... the understanding... and the courage. God, God, God, oh my God, merciful God... God, God, God!
See more »
Opening credits: "I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me." (New Testament, St. Paul's letter to the Romans, Chapter 10, Verse 20) See more »
I enjoyed reading "erupting beauty" (The Big Combo, 2 February 2004) for a good summary of Stromboli. Zetes ("A vastly underrated masterpiece", zetes from Saint Paul, MN, 15 June 2002) and bkoganbing ("Ingrid and the volcano", bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York, 29 August 2012) both include good background about the controversies surrounding it. Cogs ("Poor old Ingrid!!", cogs from London, England, 2 February 2005) sees similarities between Rossellini and Bresson that I share. I agree with Cogs that Bresson is more interesting.
Stromboli is a showcase for Ingrid Bergman, who to my mind is easily the greatest actress in cinema. Karen's situation is Hellish. She marries to escape an Italian interment camp. She subsequently finds only misery with the desolate volcano-island that her fisherman-husband takes her to. The terrain is harsh and the locals are even worse. She discovers him to be overly simple and occasionally too beastly to bear. The finale reflects her desire for just a meager amount of happiness in such a world as this.
Visually Roberto Rossellini is superb. His visual aesthetics are unsentimental but never boring. His camera work is unobtrusive.
Two of the most memorable scenes feature a disturbing quotient of animal cruelty. In the first scene, a live rabbit is needlessly sacrificed by being placed near a ferret. Rossellini couldn't use stuffed animals. He has the audience, some of whom are animal lovers, suffer by showing the kill in detail. Of course, Rossellini is strengthening the distance between Ingrid and her fisherman husband, and identifying her with the suffering rabbit. However, I won't give Rossellini any credit for moving the story along with this thoughtless tactic.
The second scene is the justifiably famous tuna slaughter with real fisherman, nets and spears. I have eaten tuna all my life and haven't thought much where it comes from. Also, I have no doubt that all of the tuna that we see being harvested was ultimately eaten. To give Rossellini credit, he filmed it well--with Ingrid nearby witnessing it as if she was one of the unfortunate fish. I just don't think that it takes great storytelling skill to rely on animal slaughter to move an audience.
Two other scenes that are noteworthy is when Karen attempts to seduce a priest, and when she (apparently) seduces a lighthouse keeper. The character that Rosselini and Bergman are portraying is flawed, and very human. She's no saint, she's a woman with unfulfilled needs.
Overall, Stromboli is a must-see member of the Italian neo-realism canon. Very few films venture to depict life without false pretenses. Ingrid's Karen really suffers; and her actions make her a polarizing figure to viewers, isolating her further. Rossellini and Bergman are showing what life is really like as every member of the audience understands it.
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