hell or high water (david mackenzie, 2016)
music friday: led zeppelin, "in the light"

journey to italy (roberto rossellini,1954)

Journey to Italy is the title of the movie as I saw it, although the original Italian translates as "Voyage to Italy", and I've seen it listed both ways. In its day, it was butchered by censors in several countries ... the U.S. version was called "Strangers". There are many versions ... it originally ran 105 minutes, "Strangers" was edited to 80 minutes, and the one I watched, from Criterion, was 85 minutes. It was a flop at the box office, despite the fact it starred Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders (just a couple of years after he won an Oscar) and was directed by the highly-regarded Rossellini. The latter may have been part of the problem, since Rossellini was there at the beginning of the Italian neorealist movement, while Journey to Italy "imposes" Hollywood stars on the local culture.

Bergman and Sanders play a married couple who travel to Italy and realize it is the first time in their long marriage that they have been alone together. They also realize, or think they realize, that they don't like each other very much. Not a lot happens from a narrative standpoint, but the crumbling marriage accumulates in a way that mimics narrative. It is very influential ... some point to it as an early example of a "road movie" ... and you see elements of it in L'Avventura and Before Midnight (in the latter, Julie Delpy describes seeing it when she was a teenager). I don't think it's as good as either of those two. It looks great, and it's ironic seeing Sanders playing someone who is bored (his suicide note in 1972 read, in part, "I am leaving because I am bored"). (Sanders was famously frustrated with the making of the film ... he didn't care for the way Rossellini would only give the actors the script for the day, on the day of shooting.)

There are also some closeups of Bergman that are transcendent. Watching the movie, you can't help but think that the roots of the breakup of her marriage to Rossellini is reflected in the relationship between the husband and wife, but those closeups reveal a man in love with his wife. (It might play well with one of Godard's Anna Karina movies.)

Journey to Italy is now considered a classic of world cinema. I can't go that far, but for Bergman, for Sanders, for Pompeii, it's well worth seeing. #71 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the 1000 greatest films of all time. 8/10.

 

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