Irene Wagner, the wife of prominent scientist Albert Wagner, finds herself blackmailed about her affair by her lover's jealous ex-girlfriend. The plot, an experiment in causing fear, drives her into a rage.
Paola, a Milan call girl, returns home to her village in an attempt to go straight. Rejected by her father, blackmailed by a former lover, and lusted after by her brother-in-law, she turns to her beloved sister for support.
A demon bestows on a self-righteous working photographer's camera the power to smite from the Earth "evil-doers". Naturally, the indignant photographer turns his new weapon on, one by one, ... See full summary »
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
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.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this