Cronache di un amore

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The world was too shocked by the scandal of their love affair to notice that Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman had changed movies forever with the three films they made together between 1950 and 1954 — “Stromboli,” “Europe ’51,” and (supremely) “Voyage to Italy.” The roots of modern cinema are clearly visible in these three revolutionary films, now presented in superb new high-definition transfers from the Criterion Collection, and reviewed here in the New York Times.

The new edition of “Voyage,” as restored by L’Imaggine Ritrovata in Bologna, is enough by itself to justify this new Blu-ray collection, which Criterion has straightforwardly titled “3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman,” but as usual there is much more, including the Italian language versions of “Stromboli” and “Europe ’51,” new interviews with Adriano Apra, Martin Scorsese, Ingrid Rossellini and Isabella Rossellini, the documentaries “Rossellini through His Own Eyes” and “Ingrid Bergman Remembered, the short films “The Chicken” (a short comedy with Bergman directed by Rossellini for the 1953 omnibus film “Siamo donne”) and “My Dad Is 100 Years Old,” directed by Guy Madden and starring Isabella Rossellini, a selection of home movies and assorted essays, both written and filmed, by assorted critics including James Quandt, Richard Brody and Fred Camper.

If that’s not enough of a Rossellini fix for you, Criterion is also offering the final Bergman-Rossellini film, “Fear” (1954) as well as “L’Amore” (1948), “The Machine that Kills Bad People” (1952) and the recent restoration of Rossellini’s 1959 documentary “India: Matri Bhumi” as streaming videos through the company’s Hulu Plus site — suggestions, perhaps, of Blu-ray releases to come.

66 comments to Cronache di un amore

  • A word to the wise — Dave’s (excellent) review of the new Blu-Ray of Big Parade is now up on the times site.

  • alex

    Looking back a bit, I think we were talking past each other on Rossellinni films where in fact in near agreement — me using “charity” very broadly as toke of the whole tradition of “love they neighbor,” the more this wordly beatitudes and deriveed “good works”

    Looking forward to some of your characterizations of Vidor.

  • alex

    Yikes! Can’t find Editor!

  • Alex,
    This sounds good!

    Rossellini is at the center of many religious, political and social traditions. His films open rich vistas.

  • One of the best scenes in Stromboli shows a maze-like group of buildings from which Bergman is trying to escape. She wanders a great deal through them, and never does find her way out. But she gets some emotional relief from a large cactus plant in the background at one point. Later, she will have a similar plant inside her house: an innovation never heard of by the local islanders.

    The maze scene is shot from above, so viewers can actually see the whole structure of maze like buildings at once. The idea is to inform the viewer, and to allow them to understand. The viewer gets an insight into the unique maze like architecture of Stromboli. Like many of Rossellini’s images, it is both visually beautiful, and a clear exposition of the environment of the story.

  • Craig

    Alex,

    The ten films discussed by Kaufmann in the book (based on the table of contents) that i found online at http://www.upne.com/TOC/TOC_1937679118.html

    Potemkin
    • Way Down East
    • The Gold Rush
    • La Grande Illusion
    • Rashomon
    • L’Avventura
    • Persona
    • 8 1/2
    • Tokyo Story
    • Some Like It Hot

  • Yann Heckmann

    Regarding “neo-realism”: Peter Bondanella argues – to my mind – convincingly in A History of the Italian Cinema that the same aesthetic can be found in many films made quite some time before the end of WW2.

    On a personal note, I remember sitting in a seminar room listening to a friend of mine – he sadly died some years ago – who was also a renowned film critic and scholar, giving a rather provocative lecture, the main point being that neo-realism doesn’t exist, or rather, that the term is too vague to be very useful at all. I didn’t have the knowledge then to argue either side and I wouldn’t consider myself competent enough to make a strong argument now, but I do have an intuition that the term might indeed be overly convenient.

  • Barry Putterman

    Yann, we had Tag Gallagher on this site a while back putting forth the same argument that neo-realism doesn’t exist. All of these terms, like neo-realism or film noir, are manufactured by critics after the fact in order to help better define historical and artistic movements. As such, they are designed to make thinking about film more convenient. The “overly” part is dependent on how skillfully you use those terms.

    By the way, is the Bondanella book available in English?

  • Yann Heckmann

    Sure, being a nominalist I totally agree, in the end everything term is a “gavagai” problem. The Bondanella book is actually written in English – he is a prof emer. at Indiana University. Make sure you get the latest edition, it was expanded to cover the Italian genre cinema more in depth:

    http://www.amazon.com/History-Italian-Cinema-Peter-Bondanella/dp/1441160698/ref=la_B001IGO6KU_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381953754&sr=1-3&tag=wp-amazon-associate-20

  • Barry Putterman

    Thanks for the link Yann. You know, I’m currently reading a book about Mack Sennett’s Keystone period by a film professor named Rob King. It is a pretty good book and I agree with quite a bit of what he says. However, he does use the word “slapstick” to cover all kinds of notions and without much of a hard definition of the term to accompany it.

  • Neorealism, film noir, slapstick. Impressionism, expressionism, naturalism. All those terms are vague. Artists do not care about them, but they are useful for gallerists, publishers, curators, programmers, critics and historians if used with a sense of humour. Recently I have realized that even the concept “short story” is vague, but that does not prevent writers from writing good stories, long or short. Alice Munro’s Nobel prize was also a prize to the art of the short story.

  • Worth pointing out perhaps that in the early 1940s the term Neorealism was used to described the kind of French films of the 1930s we now often call Poetic realism. If terms must be used to make life easier for students and pamphlet writers then I think it would’ve been better if the Italian films of the 40s had been called Poetic realism all along.

  • Barry Putterman

    Well then Fredrik, possibly what the Italians were doing was “post-neorealism.” As we say over here about baseball; “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”

  • The academic world could always use a new post-ism.

  • Lawrence Chadbourne

    Fredrik,you are correct that Italian writers (the future underrated director Antonio Pietrangeli,
    Umberto Barbaro ) used the term neo-realism as early as 1942, so not as Barry says “after the fact,”
    but if they used it in a way that found a similarity to 30s French poetic realism, it would be a
    mistake to lump these two styles together. One has only to contrast the studio bound look, with elaborate sets by designers like Trauner, of the Carne works like Hotel Du Nord, with the filming on the street in real locations that came to mark the later neo realist classics.

  • Lawrence, you misunderstood me. I meant that the term “neorealism” was originally used when French 1930s cinema was discussed, not because of any alleged similarities with 1940s Italian cinema but because (I suppose) they felt that French 1930s cinema was a new kind of realism.

    I’ve been to the actual Hotel Du Nord in Paris and it still looks remarkably like it did in the film. At the same time much of neorealism was shot in studios. The differences between French “poetic realism” and Italian “neorealism” have more to do with the attitudes of the filmmakers than with differences in style.