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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stromboli (1950)

At the end of WWII, a young woman (Ingrid Bergman) in an internment camp finds herself with nowhere to go. So she marries a simple, uneducated Sicilian fisherman (Mario Vitale) and goes with him to his home, the bleak island of Stromboli where an ominous active volcano hovers over its residents. Considered a failure (at least in America) upon its initial release, this is a dynamic piece of film making. Yet another example of a film unappreciated in its time that the ensuing years reveal to be a compelling specimen of cinema. Near documentary in its style, Bergman gives an excellent performance as a lost soul reaching for something ... but what? She doesn't know and director Roberto Rossellini doesn't give us any easy answers though its emotional ending suggests that a faith in God will help her deal with her demons. The film has two disturbing sequences, disturbing to me anyway, that involve brutality toward animals (one involving tuna fishing seems to go on forever) but if you can make it through those moments, you'll find a rich mural of life at its most austere where tradition and faith are all. There's also a stunning sequence of a very realistic volcanic eruption that is more terrifying that any big budget disaster movie ever gave us. With Renzo Cesana and Mario Sponzo.

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