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Europe '51 (1952)

Europa '51 (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 3 November 1954 (USA)
Irene Girard is an ambassador's wife and used to living in luxury. After the dramatic death of her son, she feels guilty of having neglected him and feels compelled to help people in need ... See full summary »


4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Ettore Giannini ...
Teresa Pellati ...
Marcella Rovena ...
Mrs. Puglisi
Tina Perna ...
Sandro Franchina ...
Maria Zanoli ...
Mrs. Galli
Silvana Veronese
William Tubbs ...
Professor Alessandrini
Alberto Plebani ...
Mr. Puglisi
Eleonora Barracco
Alfonso Di Stefano
Alfred Browne ...
Hospital Priest


Irene Girard is an ambassador's wife and used to living in luxury. After the dramatic death of her son, she feels guilty of having neglected him and feels compelled to help people in need who cross her path. One day she offers shelter to a man who is evading justice, and she ends being arrested herself. Her husband, for the sake of social propriety, arranges for a doctor to declare her insane. Irene escapes one prison to enter another, and to reflect on what sort of society she lives in. Written by Artemis-9

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Would she lose her husband, her home? - Her answer will stun you! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 November 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Europe '51  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


Giulietta, detta Passerotto: Men are just big babies. You got to act stupid all the time so that they feel they can run the whole thing. They're impossible. And they're good for only one thing, to make love, and only after you show 'em how.
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Referenced in Posseteni ot gospoda (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

18 January 2009 | by See all my reviews

I attended a National Film Theatre screening as part of a Bergman season. The film was introduced as one that critical America found hard to bear, not least as the deserting Hollywood star Bergman had an affair with the director, Rossellini.

I mention this as the film, which charts the resolution of personal crisis in the life of a bourgeois socialite, is a extremely open and even-handed critique of European social politics. Rossellini presents Irene Girard as having an epiphany in which she appears to be ideologically seduced by an activist of the left. This would have been particularly irritating to the HUAC who were experiencing a rash of films as backlash to their Hollywood blacklist of 1947 and would explain critical hostility to the film and Bergman personally.

In fact, It becomes clear that Rossellini manages the extraordinary achievement of charting an ideological third way for Irene. She throws herself into her naive acts of charity somewhat haphazardly (though convincingly). She is subsequently appalled by the 'coal-face' realities of having to work in a factory. Her non-partisan political ineptitude is the reason she is eventually committed to an asylum.

For me, Europa 51 is not simply the sad but noble tale of a grieving mother finding a unique way in which to sublimate her grief and guilt. Rossellini has concocted a sophisticated analogy for the poised, unresolvable social position of European society; an analogy that translates into the more digestible position of a single, normal, rational individual. It has the same, marvellous objectivity that one feels when watching the morally neutral Badlands, for example.

There are a host of imperfections (not least in the tatty, French sub-titled print we were treated to!) in this film. Only so many can be put down to the rise of the (French) New Wave and the acting can be changeable. Bergman however is very fine, giving a multi-faceted performance that never veers off into incredibility even - especially - at the poignant, potentially confusing final scene/shot. Alexander Knox is also fine. A raw jewel of a movie. 8/10

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