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Living in an Italian refugee camp in 1948, the beautiful Karin meets Antonio, a resident of the men's camp. Though not in love with him, Karin marries him and they soon head for his home village, Stromboli. The village is on a remote island at the foot of an active volcano. When they arrive Karin despairs of the barren land and the absence of people, as many have left, mostly for the United States. She doesn't speak the local dialect and is treated with disdain by 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
Or L'AVVENTURA AVANT LA LETTRE, which actually encapsulates the situation of STROMBOLI. Although the recent death of Michelangelo Antonioni brought about many commentators who discussed the revolutionary effect of the first screenings of L'AVVENTURA (Martin Scorsese wrote such a piece which appeared in The New York Times of August 12, 2007), this was a far cry from the disastrous reception that STROMBOLI had in its original release. Of course, part of the problem was the extra-filmic situation, the "scandale" of the Bergman-Rossellini relationship.
But all that's in the past. STROMBOLI must be seen as the revolutionary work that it is. In the past (and this continues today), the film was castigated for its meandering plotlessness, for its seeming aimlessness. These are, in fact, aspects of the film, because the film is not "about" the passions of a woman (though this was how the movie was advertised on its initial release), but about lassitude. In effect, STROMBOLI was the first filmic expression of alienation, literally in the plot device of having Karin (played by Bergman) a displaced person, and metaphorically in scenes such as the one in which Karin is walking through the town and hears voices - she knows that they're talking about her, but she can't understand what they're saying. (The villagers speak in their Sicilian dialect, and Karin speaks in English; there is the scene where Karin redecorates the house, and the women come to stare, but when she invites them to come in, they just stare and skulk away.)
There are so many problems with seeing this film: it was cut and reedited and a voice-over narration was added for its initial American release; the Italian archival version is dubbed all into Italian. The actual version is a multi-lingual (English, Italian, Sicilian dialect) version which runs 107 minutes, with no narrator. In this version, the documentary aspects are fully integrated into the film.
STROMBOLI deserves to be seen in its full version, and deserves to be seen as the precursor of movies such as L'AVVENTURA, Resnais's Hiroshima MON AMOUR and Godard's UNE FEMME MARIEE.
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