Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Journey to Italy, 1953

JOURNEY TO ITALY. Rossellini’s 1953 VIAGGIO IN ITALIA (though it seems it was not released until 1954) starts with married couple Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders driving to the villa they have inherited near Naples and which they are going to sell; they have been married 8 years, have no children, and realise it’s the first time they have been alone together for some time. There's a coolness in their relationship and aspects of Naples add to the strain. He is bored and has nothing to do, despite the villa’s marvellous views over the Bay of Naples. They have separate rooms and notice the couple running the villa sleep together during the afternoon siesta. She also notices the amount of pregnant women she sees everywhere. They decide to do their own thing during the break as he has no interest in seeing the sights, but meets various people around Capri and even picks up a woman outside the hotel but seems not to go through with it.

We focus on her as, with various guides, she explores the Archeological Museum, the sulphur mines, the catacombs, and finally to Pompeii itself – which they have all to themselves – to see a newly revealed statue of a couple caught in the volcanic eruption. I saw this film as a child (we went to see everything at the cinema in Ireland then) and remember being mystified by the way they discover the bodies. Finally, the couple are caught up in a religious procession and after deciding earlier to divorce, they suddenly realise their love and there is a hopeful quick ending.
It is a leisurely film as the mismatched couple try to fit in with the Italian way, which suggests it was meant to be longer. It was a financial disaster at the time – as were all the Bergman-Rossellini films – but they are all highly regarded now, this one in particular. It almost seems like the precursor of those Antonioni films where nothing much happens in narrative terms, where landscapes and mood are all-important. It’s title on IMDB is THE LONELY WOMAN! A BFI release clocking in at 80 minutes.

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