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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Living in an Italian refugee camp in 1948, the beautiful Karen meets Antonio, a resident of the men's camp. While not in love with him, Karen marries him and they soon set of for his home village, Stromboli. The village is on a remote island at the foot of an active volcano. She despairs at what she finds when she arrives. The village is on barren land and virtually devoid of people as many have left, mostly for the United States. She doesn't speak the local dialect and is treated with disdain by some of the locals who see her as an exotic foreigner and a loose woman. After Antonio beats her and locks her in their house, she sets off across the mountains to seek her freedom and a better future. Written by
During production of this film, Ingrid Bergman entered into an extra-marital affair with Roberto Rossellini and became pregnant. The resulting scandal in America effectively blacklisted her from the North American movie market and she was even condemned by politicians and religious figures. She was finally forgiven and welcomed back to America upon the success of Anastasia (1956), but her Hollywood career was temporarily ended by this movie. See more »
Though used by women, pants were not so popular on that time. Is strange that a poor refugee like the character played by Bergman wears pants almost the entire movie. See more »
I am your wife. And this is your home. But, I have to live in it too and I'm not an animal.
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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 »
An enormous step forward from his three neorealist classics listed above. Unfortunately, I think it might still be suffering from its original backlash. It was pounded by the critics at the time, but that was all for reasons outside the film itself (well, not exactly; the film seems to mimic real life at the time, even if it wasn't meant to). Of course, I'm referring to the affair that Ingrid Bergman, the film's star, and Roberto Rossellini, its director, had during the shooting, which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate child. Not only were they not married to each other, but they were both married to others at the time. That wouldn't, of course, cause most people living in the United States to even blink today, but it was a huge scandal at the time, resulting in a box office dud for RKO Pictures, who had produced it. Fortunately, we can look at Stromboli objectively today and recognize it for the great masterpiece that it happens to be.
Bergman, in possibly her best role, plays a young Lithuanian woman who has lived a sort of decadent life. She is now in an internment camp in Italy, praying to flee to Argentina. Her only other option is to marry the Italian soldier, several years younger than herself, who is flirting with her all the time. The first option falls through, so she is forced to go with her backup plan. All's well, until she finds out where the guy lives and has every intention of going back to: Stromboli, a volcanic island where only the toughest farmers and fishermen live. Bergman is immediately distraught. She has grown up wealthy, had a lot of luxuries. Now she is living in a hut on a dusty, barren rock with a husband who can only barely understand English, which is, incidentally, only a second language for Bergman, as well. There is little communication between them, and, indeed, in this land, that is not exactly important. Still, the husband really cares for her. In all actuality, although we can jerk our knees at his conservative ways, Bergman is the one who refuses to compromise. From the first day, she demands to be taken away from Stromboli, to America or Australia, maybe. But there is no money to do so. There are a lot of customs on the island which she doesn't understand. She doesn't even attempt to understand them. Even when a friend tells her she shouldn't enter a certain person's home, she goes in anyway, completely embarrassing her husband. When she complains to the priest that she is utterly unhappy, he replies that he understands, but her husband is just as unhappy, maybe moreso. After all, the first thing she did when he went fishing was store away all the pictures of his deceased family and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Stromboli is an amazingly fair film in this way. In fact, my only complaint would center on the print I saw (on TCM, of course) rather than the actual film: it is unsubtitled, which means that we are meant to see everything from Bergman's point of view, at least in this version. I think that the Italian should be translated in subtitles, because there are a lot of long segments where the Italians are talking to each other that go untranslated. Rossellini wouldn't have had this dialogue if he didn't want us to know what they were saying. Of course, it's not usually very difficult to figure out what they are talking about.
Among other things, Stromboli contains two of the most amazing set pieces in the history of film. First, Bergman has someone row her out to see her husband while he and other Strombolians are tuna fishing. In an extremely lengthy sequence, we witness this event. This is far more reality than Visconti ever gave us in La Terra Trema a few years prior. Second, the volcano at the peak of the island erupts and the residents have to sail out to sea in their boats for a very long time. The film also has a masterful finale, although I think I personally would have directed Ingrid differently in the final scene. It still works wonders. 10/10.
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