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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Francis L. Sullivan
The location: Nazi occupied Rome. As Rome is classified an open city, most Romans can wander the streets without fear of the city being bombed or them being killed in the process. But life ... See full summary »
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 »
Those who have gone away help those who are left behind. And I, well, I act as the middle-man.
Then try to help us, Father. I can't take a life like this. Antonio is still a boy. Yes, I love him, but he doesn't understand how a woman like me feels.
I think he does. I know how hard he tried to get work. The fishing season has started. And the boats have full crews already. You see, there are only four boats from Stromboli. The rest come from other islands. Yet, Antonio has managed to find a ...
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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 »
This is one to cherish, spiritually rich but not mawkishan ascetic film.
It is of course an erudite treatise on Catholic guilt, better than any inner demons Bergman exorcised on celluloid. What Bergman strived to hold on to, Rossellini can let go. But more, having offered us a broken soul, it unifies back into a single vision of the common source that encompasses every spiritual utterance.
It always comes back to the same; the same burning questions about meaning and plan in a cruel, perishable world, the same terror that we cannot effect any control upon it or make ourselves last. And, having experienced the anxieties of being and coming to pass and ineffability of attaining happiness, the path that leads out of them again. Every spiritual vision is a signpost on this path.
Rossellini's paradigm is simple enough; about a brazen, obstinate woman coming to live in an inscrutable, hopeless landscape, and about the life-renewing sacrifice that brings atonement. It could have been a simple story of religious lore, like Job. But notice how rich the different strands woven into it.
The woman filled with desires to please, planning for happiness. She wants to leave for Argentina or America, the paradise on earth where dreams are unequivocally fulfilled. She will use and abuse whatever she can to reach that imaginary place, which is only a childhood regression into the place where our every whim is to be pleased.
And by contrast, a pitiless land; poignantly as a volcanic island, where life is constantly destroyed and created anew, and the humble, hardworking peoples who have made their peace with the toll of suffering. Now it's her turn to learn to let go pride and ego and abide by the common mandate.
The fishing scene is important in this aspect; as the ritual that brings men together into a single entity, working for the common goal that prolongs life. We assume her pov for this, as tuna fish are harpooned from the sea and violently tossed inside boats. She's aghast by so much pain, but now she knows how the easy money she has enjoyed all her life is earned.
More portents; the kids she encounters in her wanderings om sunbaked rock. The first kid allows her to realize the tears on her own face, the group of kids fishing clams lead her to the forbidden passion. The temptation to escape into a selfish world.
It is all about the inner journey to extinguish the flames of ego that singe the soul. Properly reflected as an outer journey that will take her through the peak of the volcano, the summit where god is revealed.
Once there we are offered the communion with god, as usual an internal monologue. The pride that had prevented her from seeking pity and solace now dissolved, she is free to return to the world with life-renewing wisdom and understanding. New life now grows inside of her, quite literally.
Rossellini shows how our effort to master the world brings only suffering. But if we allow ourselves to be one with and embody the mastered world?
Subsequent filmmakers would make more sophisticated films on the same ideas (Malick, most recently), but this is the clear picture, an aesthetic so transparent and filled with a restraint and ardor that is only possible through a deepseated love for what cinema can do.
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