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Europe '51 (1952)

Europa '51 (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 3 November 1954 (USA)
A wealthy woman becomes obsessed with humanitarianism when her young son dies after committing suicide.

Director:

Roberto Rossellini
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4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ingrid Bergman ... Irene Girard
Alexander Knox ... George Girard
Ettore Giannini Ettore Giannini ... Andrea Casatti
Giulietta Masina ... Giulietta, detta Passerotto
Teresa Pellati Teresa Pellati ... Ines
Marcella Rovena Marcella Rovena ... Mrs. Puglisi
Tina Perna Tina Perna ... Cesira
Sandro Franchina Sandro Franchina ... Michele Girard
Maria Zanoli Maria Zanoli ... Mrs. Galli
Silvana Veronese Silvana Veronese
William Tubbs William Tubbs ... Professor Alessandrini
Alberto Plebani Alberto Plebani ... Mr. Puglisi
Eleonora Barracco Eleonora Barracco
Alfonso Di Stefano Alfonso Di Stefano
Alfred Browne Alfred Browne ... Hospital Priest
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

BERGMAN'S BACK! The event and performance the motion picture world has waited for for four long years! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

3 November 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Greatest Love See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The square Irene and Andrea drive to is the Campodoglio in Rome. The equestrian statue is of Marcus Aurelius, emperor and stoic philosopher. See more »

Quotes

Irene Girard: [the subject of politics arises during a dinner party conversation at the Girard home] Darling, I think we'd rather change the subject, huh? Andre is slightly radical.
Mrs. Orange: Oh, a Socialist.
Irene Girard: Worst than than that, I'm afraid.
[Awkward silence]
Irene Girard: You see what a good hostess I am. A real diplomat. I put the dove of peace on my left and a Marshall plan on my right and somewhere in the middle I put a neutral buffer state like Switzerland. And look what happens.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Ingrid Bergman, Alexander Knox and the other English-speaking actors dub their own voices into English for the English version. See more »

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User Reviews

 
not Rossellini/Bergman best, but hard to ignore its pure heart
11 November 2014 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Europa 51 has a big heart, this much is clear. It's a story where Rossellini and his collaborators want to pose a basic question: what does someone have to do, like literally do with their own hands and wills and TIME, actually taking time and energy out of their days, to make a difference for people? The question may be surrounded by an, arguably, heavy-handed set-up, where Ingrid Bergman plays an ambassador's wife in Italy, and their son, a bit of a spoiled mama's boy (or, no, maybe he's just the sensitive sort, you pick, but either way not dubbed particularly well), dies accidentally. Bergman's Irene can't stand herself for what has happened - all her time being a dilettante and not spending enough time with her son made this happen - and she can barely go on.

Someone, a friend who has Communist ties, tries to convince her that perhaps it's time to make a change amid this time of Societal Upheaval (in caps) as political sides are being more sharply drawn. She sees how people suffer, and a day at a factory basically makes her completely light-headed (a montage of images, if memory serves, makes this clear). She wants to help. Maybe if she puts her energies to positive use, to help others, she can... what, find some solace? Alleviate her guilt? Or that now she can't be a mother to her son - and there's not much effort between her and her husband to find love again - so why not be a Mother to others? It's a little more difficult than that, of course, which is the riding factor of conflict in the narrative.

Bergman plays this character with all of the beats just right. Early on in those first scenes with her and her son you might wonder whether the writing isn't totally clear - IS she being a bad mother, or is he just whining, or is it a little 'much' determining either, who knows - but she plays it just right, this woman in her life who has it all and doesn't have to worry about much. This includes hearing conversations about class struggles (this before she sees them first hand) and can barely comprehend it. How Bergman channels grief is even better, showing us a face that has the life totally drained out, and she is always *listening* as an actress too to what's around her, and is a strong listener which is key. Ironic then that many of these, almost all of them, are speaking Italian and are dubbed over - this includes Giuletta Masina, who plays a local housewife.

Not all of the writing is superb here, at least for me. It's surprisingly melodramatic in its last quarter as Irene is looked at as being completely crazy (possibly, borderline, criminal) in how she's helping these people, which includes keeping one man evading prosecution in her home. I have to wonder if this story could work today, though a filmmaker like Scorsese, one of Rossellini's disciples, sort of made his version with Bringing Out the Dead - a protagonist who is haunted by death and wants to make a difference. It is a very hard thing to be saintly, or just be a decent person when there are many, many indecent things and people that go about in this world, certainly in this context post-war, post-fascist-cum-Communist Italy.

There's a lot to digest here, even if some of it may come off as dated or simplistic. But, once again as with Stromboli, the combination of a director with a clear, very moral message, and an actress giving it her ALL (and it's a case where Bergman does give one of her best performances from this period, even if the film isn't), that you can watch it and be wrapped up in this woman's drama.


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