Cronache di un amore

europa 51 photobusta small

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

  • When people ask me which is my favourite film (and they do ask that often) I am not able to give them one title. But one of the titles I mention is always JOURNEY TO ITALY. It’s too beautiful and emotional for words. I like the others as well, maybe in particular STROMBOLI and FEAR. Speaking of the Vatican, the present Pope have one saint in common with Rossellini. Francis, the chosen name of the Pope and the focus of Rossellini’s quite remarkable film from 1950, THE FLOWERS OF ST FRANCIS.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Here’s some footage of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini arriving in Stockholm in the middle of the night in 1953:

    http://filmarkivet.se/sv/Film/?movieid=48

    Looking at the poster above for EUROPA ’51 with the radiant Ingrid Bergman as a female St Francis, I think it would make a nice a double bill with INTOLERANCE, balancing Griffith’s observation that “Women turn to social reform when they could no longer turn a man’s fancy.”

  • Steve elworth

    I have heard that Fear will becoming out later from Criterion. I hope that it will be in a box with the other films that are now on Hulu Plus. INDIA. WOW.

  • alex

    What a great bunch of films — not the least the little seen and discussed EUROPA 51.

    However well DWG’s Christian materials suffice to ground INTOLERANCE ‘s great tour de force, they hold not a candle to the spiritual and intellectual Christian radiance of the Rossellini of EUROPA 51and
    FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS.

    GREAT title to you excellent piece, David K. Shifting from Antonioni, think RR ‘s Bergman and Franciscan era films had any influence on the Christian side of the art film, like say early Fellini and the films of the spiritually sublime Olmi?

  • Noel Vera

    Europa 51 is remarkable for its ambivalence–either she’s descending into insanity or ascending into martyrdom. Can’t understand why Catholic schools don’t try show this more often–too complex, too disturbing for their students? Possibly as if not more disturbing is Flowers of St. Francis–a theological comedy?

  • Barry Putterman

    Or possibly both descending into insanity and ascending into martyrdom. Of course, martyrdom is usually depicted cinematically as something saintly, even in a film as ambivalent as Bunuel’s NAZARIN. It tends to look a little different when we open the morning newspaper however.

  • jbryant

    I agree that EUROPA 51 is quite something, with Ingrid Bergman progressing from paralyzing grief, through altruistic social activism, to a kind of spiritual transcendence that suggests impending sainthood. Having played Joan of Arc a couple of years earlier, Bergman is more than up to the challenges of that demanding, um, arc. I like that Rossellini doesn’t seem to be pushing a specific political, psychological or religious agenda; in fact, he goes out of his way to show the limitations of all three in dealing with Bergman’s spiritual awakening. I look forward to seeing it and STROMBOLI again, and VOYAGE TO ITALY for the first time.

    Does the Criterion version of EUROPA 51 include that English dub that seems to have been recorded by the cast of MARTY or something? So odd to hear Giulietta Masina sounding like Thelma Ritter’s less nasal sister.

  • alex

    “Can’t understand why Catholic schools don’t try show this more often–too complex, too disturbing for their students?”

    Noel Vera,

    I think that the Bergman character’s development in EUROPSA 51 is rather more toward Sainthood than insanity, though perhaps toward a sainthood with a precarious position on the world.

    Also,isn’t EUROPA 51, somethjng of a repudiaytion of –or at least sharp movement beyond–the Catholic Church, as it is the same for the Communist Party. A movement toward the Christianist of the Gospel –which as gary Wills wrote in his 2012 “Bullyong the Nuns” (New York Recview of Books), “Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).”

    With a warmer eye to Catholicism, there’s a worthwile list of “The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time” at http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=395, but, though it includes a couple of Rossellini’s (and is hardly devoted to sexual regulation, unlike the parrishes)it contains no EUROPE 51 or FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS. And with Francis as Pope there’s perhaps a ral change for the Sainthood of Dorothy day, thoughi suspect she would have gagged on merest though of benefitting from the two-miracle criterion.

  • alex

    Yikes! No editor today (not on my computer.)

  • Noel Vera

    “Also,isn’t EUROPA 51, somethjng of a repudiaytion of –or at least sharp movement beyond–the Catholic Church, as it is the same for the Communist Party”

    Possibly of official Church doctrine at the time.

    That list of fifty Catholic Movies is fascinating. He loves Ben Hur for the Christ cameo but totally ignores Stephen Boyd; thinks the censored version of De Mille’s The Sign of the Cross is the best version (would he approve of a censored version of the Bible?) and yet manage to like Rossellini, even early Bresson. I’m tempted to cook up my own list…

    ““Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in “the social Gospel” (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist).”

    That sounds eerily familiar.

    “Sainthood of Dorothy Day”

    Why not? Stranger things have come to pass.

  • Alex Hicks

    Noel Vera,

    I especially liked catholicculture.org’s inclusion of “The Aweful Truth,” indeed its embrace of the romantic “comedies of remarriage.”

    “Possibly of official Church doctrine at the time”? Do you have reason to believe the adult Rossellini of “Rome, Open City” and after would ever have regarded himself as a Catholic, as opposed to a Christian.

    As I recall from some recent news stories, Dorothy Day IS being considered for sainthood –that is (a) has been since 1983 and (B) has recently been endorsed for such by Cardinal Nolan of NYC.

  • David Boxwell

    Their final collaboration, a highly stylized rendition of Honegger’s oratorio JEANNE D’ARC AU BUCHER (GIOVANNA D’ARCO AL ROGO) (54) just made it to region 1 DVD from Video Dimensions (in a transfer that is only good enough to give the viewer a good idea of what the film is about). Visually, it prefigures the historical films of the 60s–action played out against black backgrounds. It’s in not so glorious Ansco Color. It’s all pretty reverently Catholic and “deep dish.” IB staked her claim as the only actress to star as Joan of Arc in two different films on two different continents!

    FEAR/ANGST/PAURA is being streamed on Hulu+ in the Italian dub, alas, which is less effective than the German original. IB suffers and suffers and suffers in it . . . .

  • David Boxwell

    Video Dimensions does an excellent transfer of RR’s 1942 propaganda flick UN PILOTA RETORNA. Somewhat incoherent (Antonioni is one of the 5 credited writers), the film shows Italians held captive and/or in retreat, until the 11th hour when the squared-jawed hero of the title (Massimo Girotti) steals a British plane and “returns” to “Cara Mamma” and Italian soil. Fascinating glimpse into RR’s wartime career, and not dissimilar, at points, to aspects of PAISA, in terms of style and content.

  • Barry Putterman

    Indeed, when I caught up with UN PILOTA RETORNA at MoMA a number of years ago, I was rather astonished at how many of the ideas evidenced in Rossellini’s immediate post war films are already in place. OSSESSIONE has already been acknowledged within the annals of what became labeled Neo Realism (and please, let’s not go through all of THAT again), but after seeing UN PILOTA RETORNA I got to wondering whether this was not a more gradual tendency in Italian cinema and we didn’t see its development because of the interruption of imports due to the war.

    Possibly Simone, or somebody else who is more familiar with Italian film history and I am, could comment on that.

  • alex

    Great post, Barry P., but it.does confront the complication that “prophetic” facsimilies of neo-realism pop up frequently – Walsh ‘s REGENERATION., ISN’T LIFE WONDERFUL?, GREED, Vidor’s THE CROWD, BOYS OF THE OPEN ROAD, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, etc., etc.

    How come? Realism is a “natural ” by the late 19th century (e.g., via Balzac, the Flaubert of L ‘eduction Sentmental, George Moore, the naturalists).

    My examples are full of melodrama? Ditto for lots of Naturalism (Zola) and neo -realism.

  • alex

    …( ROME, OPEN CITY, etc.).

  • Barry Putterman

    Well thanks for the compliment Alex, but I’m really more interested in finding out about trends and tendencies within the history of Italian cinema than in grouping what was termed “Neo Realism” together with everything in the past two hundred years of literature and film which could come under the general heading of “naturalism”

  • alex

    But if “Una Pilota Retorno” were just one of the flukes, it wouldn’t much help establish a trend — at least not unless it led as a clue to other films that would, together with “Retorno, ” establish a trend.

  • Hard to tell nether a single case is a fluke.

  • Barry Putterman

    Well Alex, had you actually been paying attention to my “great post” you would have noticed that I was asking for Simone and others who have more knowledge of Italian film history than I have to comment on whether UN PILOTA RETORNO was part of a more gradual trend in Italian cinema which we missed over here due to our not seeing their wartime films.

  • Seems to me I twice underlined the need for more evidence of a trend that you had expressed in your “great post.”

  • I too had been (and am) awaiting possible word from some scholar like Simone (though none too sure that our awareness of the Wartime OSSESSIONE was a fluke due to a mysterious Italian silence about Italian Wartime film lasting unto this very month of October 2013).

  • Barry Putterman

    Okay, now that Alex has established that he has spent all this time reiterating my initial post, let me take it a step further. Andrew Sarris wondered out loud in “The American Cinema” whether our reaction to “Neorealism” would have ben much different had we seen OSSESSIONE and ROME OPEN CITY in the proper chronological order. And I would add that seeing UN PILOTA RETORNO makes that an even more interesting question.

    However, “The American Cinema” by its very structural nature is a “great man” view of film history. Rossellini and Visconti are very singular artists, but they weren’t working in a void. What were the surrounding influences both socially and artistically? Our ability to reference so much more of our own social history and national cinema allows us to place so many of these so-called “firsts” and movements in a much broader context in terms of American cinema. And we need to use that same criteria in relation to films and filmmakers from other countries as well.

  • Stromboli resembles Rossellini’s later The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (1966). Both deal with outsiders who get involved with and try to transform a complex society. In both films, the locals engage in fantastically complex, but often pointless rituals. These rituals dominate their whole social lives. Both take place in beautiful settings, which contain endless corridors down which characters wander, as in a dream. Both films end up with the hero alone, facing major thoughts about his place in the universe.

    The two films differ in that Louis is the creator of many of the complex rituals in the second film, whereas the inhabitants of Stromboli have inherited theirs from time immemorial.

  • My knowledge of Italian cinema before the Liberation is very weak, but I realize there are treasures there to be discovered. This summer in Bologna I saw Vittorio De Sica’s LA PORTA DEL CIELO [THE GATE OF HEAVEN], a pilgrimage story and a multi-character study co-written by Cesare Zavattini. It proves that De Sica’s realistic impulse did not emerge out of the blue in SCIUSCIÀ but was rooted in films such as this with a realistic passion in the account of a train journey, the circumstances of an abandoned boy, and a tragic sabotage accident at an ice factory blinding Massimo Girotti’s character. It was produced under tough circumstances before the Liberation but released first after it.

    There was an important realistic current in the Italian cinema since the 1920s, influenced particularly by King Vidor’s THE CROWD whose inspiration is acknowledged by the Italian masters, De Sica above all.

  • Carlo Lizzani 1922-2013.

  • alex

    As aside with some relevance to EUROPA 51.

    Regarding Catholicism public posture regarding “the social gospel” and “sexual regulation,” I thought the following might interest you.

    “And although social doctrine implied a new Catholic view of the moralstan dards for conduct in modern society, the hierarchy has always regarded it as the least binding level of doctrine, one allowing disagreement at the specific level of policy, considered outside the church’s competence. 7 (The more recent, common preference for the term “social teaching” demon- strates the progressive trend to make social doctrine even more flexible and nondogmatic [Curran 1985; Dorr 1983, p. 9]. This is in great contrast to doctrine that concerns the faith and morals of individuals and familiessuch as sexual morality, which deals very much in particulars within binding, supposedly unchanging doctrinal requirements [see, e.g., McCormick 1982, p. 100; Burns 1988].) Rerum novarum-and papal ideol ogy on social and political issues ever since-avoids specific policy questions, arguing instead that the church’s role is to teach a moral outlook that transcends historical and political particulars (Leo XIII 1940, p. 182).”

    –Gene Burns, “The Politics of Ideology: The Papal Struggle with Liberalism.” American Journal of Sociology (March, 1990, pp. 1123-1152).]

  • dm494

    I’m sorry to hear of Lizzani’s death, which has been ruled a suicide according to the papers I checked out after reading Antti’s post. I’m not sure if any of his films are available in the U.S. undubbed. BANDITI A MILANO is up on youtube (without subtitles last time I checked), and the film’s car chase scene is quite something.

  • Rossellini is a great filmmaker.
    He is great in content: his deep commitment to reason, thinking, the scientific world view and creativity. His liberal social concern and support for the poor. His love of peace. His deep view of Catholicism, and God. His vast knowledge of society.

    He is great in form. His films are visually rich and original. Stromboli has some of his best visual style.

  • Peter Brunette’s book “Roberto Rossellini” is available free on-line from its publisher:
    http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft709nb48d&brand=ucpress

  • I especially love Tag Gallagher’s book on Rossellini.

    By the way, Stanley Kauffmann has died.

  • Robert Garrick

    It’s appropriate that we announce Stanley Kauffmann’s death in this thread, because he loved the Italian cinema more than any other. Kauffmann is another guy that I got to know a little bit because I took his small class in Italian film at NYU back in 1977. Oddly, one director who wasn’t represented at all in the curriculum was Roberto Rossellini, and I don’t remember Kauffmann saying one word about Rossellini all semester. (It might have happened, but I don’t remember it.)

    Who did Kauffmann talk about in that class? He loved Antonioni, and he screened “L’Eclisse” (1962), comparing the final wordless images in the film to paintings by Robert Rauschenberg. (We don’t talk much about Antonioni here, but Sarris dubbed him the greatest living director after Billy Wilder died, so Antonioni got to hold that title, like a heavyweight champion, for five years.) Kauffmann also screened (and loved) Mario Monicelli’s “Big Deal on Madonna Street” (1958). Other favorites were Fellini and Bertolucci. Kauffmann had the same feel and affection for Italian culture that Sarris had for all things French.

    Kauffmann didn’t pay too much attention to other critics; he stayed above the fights that were raging in the ’60s and ’70s between Sarris, Kael, Simon, MacDonald, and others. But he was a scholar of early film criticism, and in 1972 he published an anthology of reviews (beginning with the earliest silent films and ending with “Citizen Kane”) that is one of the first film books I ever bought.

    Kauffmann was the kind of impressionistic critic, with roots in literature and in the theatre, that we don’t pay much attention to here. But there was always a lot to be learned from reading him, and from being around him. And he was a great guy. He was helpful and warm, with no ego. Oliver Wendell Holmes said of FDR that he had a “second class intellect, but a first class temperament.” Kauffmann may not be an “A” critic in auteur circles, but there was no question about the temperament.

    When I took Kauffmann’s class in 1977, he was already the grand old man of American film critics, and he was old enough to play the parts that usually went to people like Donald Crisp. I can’t believe that he’s only, just now, wrapping up his life. He was 97.

  • David Cohen

    Carrie Rickey has a nice thread going about Kauffmann on Facebook. Good to see so many people remember him.

  • Stanley Kauffmann seems to me go have been the greatest of the numerous U.S.
    film critcs profoundly influenced. -like say MacDonald, Simon, perhaps Agee and a loy of fogotten folk at places like America, National Review and The Nation — in his appreciation of theater and literature (and, to a lesser extent by no means pro-Communist, Marxism).

    Rather pre auteur –indeed pre-Keal- -in his High- Brow Seriousness. (Great on Antonioni, lousy on Leone.)

    A kind of critical analog to- as well as fan of –film maker Michelangelo Antonioni.

  • dm494

    Another Italian filmmaker whom Kauffmann admired greatly is Olmi–at least his early films. (Kauffmann wasn’t keen on “The Tree of the Wooden Clogs”.)

    I think Kauffmann’s most important legacy as a film critic is his perceptive writing about actors. He was one of the strongest film critics on the subject of acting and, although I’ve seen a number of comments about him today that remark on his moderate, even-keeled temperament, he did in fact demonstrate some rhapsodic-fannish behavior in his writing about certain actresses, among them Rebecca De Mornay, Julianne Moore, and–perhaps most of all–Emma Thompson.

    Maybe twelve years ago Kauffmann wrote a nice piece about auteurism in connection with a screening of “Gun Crazy”, his overall point being that, although he disagreed with auteurist taste, he liked auteurists because their love of film is grounded in aesthetic impulses. There’s also an article of his somewhere in which he mentions Dave Kehr favorably, praising him as I recall for an informative article Kehr wrote about Japanese animated films.

  • Daniel F.

    Mike Grost, thanks much for the link to Brunette’s Rossellini book. Great resource to know. And I’m very excited about these new Criterion editions.

  • The late Kauffmann could be wonderfully acerbic. One of my favorite leads in all reviewerdom is his notice of Altman’s — I think —QUARTET, which reads, “Robert Altman has found another way to insult his profession.”

  • Gregg Rickman

    DK, that’d most likely be Altman’s QUINTET (QUARTET was a Somerset Maugham adaptation I believe). If I’m not mistaken I was probably the only film critic in America to give QUINTET a positive review (at my college paper); I dare say Dave did not. But if it’s any compensation, I’m also the guy who said, when THE PLAYER came out, that Altman had finally found a subject worthy of his contempt.

    (Note that unlike the quote attributed to Kauffmann I don’t think Altman disrespected his profession, I feel that he at times disrespected his subject matter. This is an old rap on Altman, with enough truth in it to stick; I still have my copy of the film journal “Cinemonkey” — edited by one D. K. Holm — with a “Mad”-magazine style cartoon mocking A WEDDING. I’ve been thinking about Altman lately, having just read Brian Kellow’s Pauline Kael biography, in which he figures; I’ve also just asked a class of 20 year olds which “New Hollywood” films they knew, and while most of them had seen BONNIE & CLYDE, THE GRADUATE and TAXI DRIVER, evoking the title of NASHVILLE — rolled out in its time as a masterpiece — drew a complete blank. Altman haters however should not I think draw too much pleasure from this; many an artist dips in repute after their death, only to float back to a proper level a couple of generations later. Others of course remain submerged forever. We shall see. I will say that to me at least there’s an expansiveness to Altman’s vision, even if crabbed at its core, lacking in Nichols and Scorsese, and I dare say Penn’s Freudian gangster movie dates more than Altman’s country music fresco. But then most of us would pick four other films as our favorites of the 1967-76 era.)

  • As Paul Schrader pithily put it: “[Altman]’s at his best when he has characters who are sleazy to begin with.”

  • There are enough Altman collaborators and associates alive to renew interest in his films. For example, Ronee Blakley is writing her memoirs of Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg and her work on “Nashville” among other interesting subjects, and “Nashville” is scheduled for a blu-ray release in the near future. Last week it was screened at the New Beverly here in Los Angeles.

  • Barry Putterman

    I really can’t envision a time in which GIANT will be less familiar to movie audiences than is FURY AT SHOWDOWN. Ultimately, who cares, as long as both are available for viewing.

  • alex

    Anyone know what 10 films are the FOCUS of Stanley Kauffmann’s 2012 TEN GREAT FILMS?

  • Political themes in Roberto Rossellini:

    Anti-Racism (Paisà, India Matri Bhumi)
    Support for the persecuted (St. Francis and the leper: Francesco giullare di Dio, witches: Blaise Pascal)
    Peace (Francesco giullare di Dio, India Matri Bhumi, skepticism about war: The Age of the Medici)
    Giving to the poor (Brother Juniper: Francesco giullare di Dio, heroine and religious order, hero and bus company: Blaise Pascal, Archbishop: The Age of the Medici)
    War in Italy (Open City, Paisà, The Age of the Medici)
    Joan of Arc (Joan at the Stake, discussed: The Age of the Medici)
    Executions (Open City, Paisà, Joan at the Stake, General della Rovere, The Age of the Medici)
    Contacts with Asia (India Matri Bhumi, traveler, map: The Age of the Medici)
    Advisors to rulers (Francesco giullare di Dio, The Age of the Medici)
    Commerce (riot at bakery: Open City, black market: Era notte a Roma, tax collector: Blaise Pascal, Renaissance capitalism: The Age of the Medici)
    Organizations (Franciscans: Francesco giullare di Dio, academies: The Age of the Medici)
    Running cities (Rome under occupation, priest, printer: Open City, Renaissance Florence: The Age of the Medici)

  • Switching from Mike Grost ‘s rather abstract, if useful, concepts to the more historically sensitive one of “il compromisso historico”– the holy grail of electorally minded socialist and Communist humanists and pragmatist as well as of some social reform (and gospel) minded Catholics of a Red-Black coalition– we find a rather precise key to Rome Open City (which calls for “il compromisso “) and Europa 51 (which, throwing up its hands at Party and Church spokespersons, opts for personal commitment to Christian charity) and Saint Francis as a wide reaching moral example.

  • I’ve only seen EUROPE ’51 once. But here are my impressions.

    EUROPE ’51 does NOT endorse any specific program for social change. Instead, it says that the existing system is not working, and putting people through misery.
    It rejects both raw capitalism and Communism. It also does NOT believe charity is adequate.

    It and its heroine want some new social programs to emerge, that will improve people’s lives. It does not specify what these programs will be. One might guess that they might involve the Welfare State/ Safety Net OR democratic socialism OR peaceful left-wing anarcho-syndicalism – or maybe new obscure ideas no one has heard of yet. But they will be informed by humanism and Christian concern for the poor.

    EUROPE ’51 challenges its audience, to start working hard to improve society, along Christian humanist lines. It leaves it up to us, the audience, to figure out HOW to change society. But it tells us the task is urgent and important.
    ***
    It never occurred to me that the heroine of EUROPE ’51 might be in any way mad. Instead, her confinement in an asylum, was an allegory about the way society persecutes reformers, and tries to control, contain and hide Christian humanist ideas.
    **
    I may or may not be understanding EUROPE ’51 correctly.
    What do other people think?

  • I admire both GIANT and FURY AT SHOWDOWN.

    GIANT shows George Stevens’ strengths as a dramatist, characters and storytelling, and social commentary.

    FURY AT SHOWDOWN shows a gift for composition, geometrical patterns, and use of architecture to create visual style. Presumably this is due to Gerd Oswald.

  • Mike Grost,

    When on throws up hands at prominent alternatives one may resort to a “best ” (or “least bad”) option without thinking it “adequate.”

    For example, in a Ted Cruz America one might embrace volunteer work at homeless shelters without any illusions about the “adequacy ” of personal and associational charity.

  • Mike Grost,

    On the mental state of Irene as E51 concludes, I pretty much agree with you. Yet Rossselinni is surely aware that he leaves Irene in a state of confinement extreme enough to entail many pressures for distress, personalty breakdown, imblances and, in effect, madness.

    Recently, following a couple of intriguing pitches by co-hosts of TCM ‘s ESSENTIALS, I tried to review YHE GIANT for the Nth time, only to find it more leadenly overwrought than I had recalled. The sets leadenly symbolic, the exchanges leadenly portentious, Stevens sympathies broad to the point of incoherence, Dean ‘s performance a reductio ad absurdum of his once masterful command of twitching and shaking.

  • Clarification:
    Rossellini greatly admires the charitable work in THE FLOWERS OF ST FRANCIS and EUROPE ’51.
    But he does not think it is enough. Both films instead advocate social change.
    The friars at the end of THE FLOWERS OF ST FRANCIS are told to go and preach peace throughout the world.
    Both films want us in the audience to speak up, and to work for change.

  • Mike Grost

    I’m sure Rosselinni advocated social change ( probably was a lifelong PCI voter). However, surely the purity of Irene ‘s social gospel good works (i.e., charity) in E51 centers on such ideals as a vantage point for critiques of CPI and RCC, critiques not extended to any articulation of any institutionalized vehical for social change that might substitute for PCI or RCC (unless it ‘s social work) .

    As for TFOSF’s call for spreading the Franciscan mission, I don ‘t see in what sense that ‘d explicitly a call for anything other than the social gospel ( of Christian charity and of course such closely linked attributes as love and gentleness of spirit) — mechanisms of social change to be sure.

    As for GIANT, it ‘s got lots of strong fans (e.g., Joseph McBride as well as Robert Ksborn, Drew Barrymore and you.)