3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-Ray]
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In the late 1940s, the incandescent Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca) found herself so moved by the revolutionary neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini (Rome Open City) that she sent the director a letter, introducing herself and offering her talents. The resulting collaboration produced a series of films that are works of both sociopolitical concern and metaphysical melodrama, each starring Bergman as a woman experiencing physical dislocation and psychic torment in postwar Italy. It also famously led to a scandalous affair and eventual marriage between filmmaker and star, and the focus on their personal lives in the press unfortunately overshadowed the extraordinary films they made together. Stromboli, Europe �51, and Journey to Italy are intensely personal portraits that reveal the director at his most emotional and the glamorous actor at her most anguished, and that capture them and the world around them in transition.
SPECIAL EDITION COLLECTOR�S SET FEATURES � New digital film restorations of the English- and Italian-language versions of Stromboli and Europe �51 and the English-language version of Journey to Italy, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions � Archival television introductions by director Roberto Rossellini to all three films � Audio commentary for Journey to Italy featuring scholar Laura Mulvey � Rossellini Through His Own Eyes, a 1992 documentary on the filmmaker�s approach to cinema, featuring archival interviews with Rossellini and actor Ingrid Bergman � New visual essays about Rossellini by scholars Tag Gallagher and James Quandt � Rossellini Under the Volcano, a 1998 documentary that returns to the island of Stromboli fifty years after the making of Stromboli � New interview with critic Adriano Apr� about each of the films � New interview with Fiorella Mariani, Rossellini�s niece, featuring home movies shot by Bergman � New interview with film historian Elena Degrada about the different versions of Europe �51 � New interviews with Isabella Rossellini and Ingrid Rossellini, daughters of Roberto Rossellini and Bergman � Ingrid Bergman Remembered, a 1996 documentary on the actor�s life, narrated by her daughter Pia Lindstrom � My Dad Is 100 Years Old, a 2005 short film, directed by Guy Maddin and starring Isabella Rossellini � The Chicken, a 1952 short film by Roberto Rossellini, starring Bergman � A Short Visit with the Rossellini Family, a six-minute film shot on Capri while the family was there during the production of Journey to Italy � New English subtitle translation for Stromboli and Europe '51 � PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critics Richard Brody, Fred Camper, Dina Iordanova, and Paul Thomas,letters exchanged by Rossellini and Bergman,�Why I Directed Stromboli,� a 1950 article by Rossellini,a 1954 interview with Rossellini conducted by Eric Rohmer and Fran�ois Truffaut for Cahiers du cin�ma,and excerpts from a 1965 interview with Rossellini conducted by Apr� and Maurizio Ponzi for Filmcritica STROMBOLI The first collaboration between Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman is a devastating portrait of a woman�s existential crisis, set against the beautiful and forbidding backdrop of a volcanic island. After World War II, a Lithuanian refugee (Bergman) marries a simple Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) she meets in a prisoner of war camp and accompanies him back to his isolated village on an island off the coast of Sicily. Cut off from the world, she finds herself crumbling emotionally, but she is destined for a dramatic epiphany. Balancing the director�s trademark neorealism (exemplified here in a remarkable depiction of the fishermen�s lives and work) with deeply felt melodrama, Stromboli is a revelation. English-language version: 1950 � 106 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � 1.37:1 aspect ratio Italian-language version: 1950 � 100 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � In Italian with English subtitles � 1.37:1 aspect ratio EUROPE �51 Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy, self-absorbed socialite in Rome racked by guilt over the shocking death of her young son. As a way of dealing with her grief and finding meaning in her life, she decides to devote her time and money to the city�s poor and sick. Her newfound, single-minded activism leads to conflicts with her husband and questions about her sanity. The intense, often unfairly overlooked Europe �51 was, according to Rossellini, a retelling of his own The Flowers of St. Francis from a female perspective. This unabashedly political but sensitively conducted investigation of modern sainthood was the director�s favorite of his films. English-language version: 1952 � 114 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � 1.33:1 aspect ratio Italian-language version: 1952 � 116 minutes � Black & White � In Italian with English subtitles � 1.33:1 aspect ratio JOURNEY TO ITALY Among the most influential dramatic works of the postwar era, Roberto Rossellini�s Journey to Italy charts the declining marriage of a couple (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) from England while on a trip in the countryside near Naples. More than just an anatomy of a relationship, Rossellini�s masterpiece is a heartrending work of emotion and spirituality. Considered a predecessor to the existentialist films of Michelangelo Antonioni,hailed as a groundbreaking modernist work by the legendary film journal Cahiers du cin�ma,and named by director Martin Scorsese as one of his favorite films, Journey to Italy is a breathtaking cinematic benchmark. 1952 � 85 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � 1.37:1 aspect ratio
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Top Customer Reviews
But the condition of the prints used in these remasters are weak and abysmally sub-par at best. Don't expect perfection or anything even close. Now, to be fair - Stromboli and Europa 51 have always looked as though their original camera negatives were fed through meat grinders. Criterion's transfers improve the clarity and overall contrast of these careworn elements. But they are still softly focused in spots and heavily saturated with age-related artifacts that are quite distracting.
That, plus the fact that none of these movies is a masterpiece (Stromboli is a snore) and Journey to Italy is just a mistake - lead me to suggest you could easily pass on this collection and still remain a Bergman devotee besides. Bergman's women in these movies is a martyr and a scamp. Not the way I want to remember this Swedish sex symbol. Regrets.
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Now I just hope that the two Bergman-Rossellini films missing from this set -- JOAN OF ARC AT THE STAKE (1954) and FEAR (1955) -- will follow very shortly. They are equally worthy of inclusion in a collection like this one.
The gossip about their relationship may have tainted audience perception at the time of release, or perhaps it was more of the stylistic departure that Rossellini had taken, but these three films are much more highly regarded today than they were initially received. The romantic and professional partners in film collaborated on six films together, with the three most notable included in this fabulous box set. Stromboli, Europe '51, and Journey to Italy have more in common than simply the star and director, also pairing together quite nicely as a trilogy of films about the difficulties of marriage.
Stromboli (1950) is a bleak drama about a woman who is literally trapped in her marriage, stuck on a volcanic island with a man whom she married as an escape plan. In her first collaboration with the Italian filmmaker, Bergman plays a Lithuanian refugee who marries an Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) as a way of leaving the prisoner of war camp she is trapped in. Unaware that she is trading one prison for another; her husband takes her back to his isolated village on a volcanic island off the coast of Sicily. What begins as a marriage of convenience becomes a cruel trap for both parties.
Europe '51 (1952) plays down the aspects of marriage compared to the other two films in this set, though it clearly shows a breakdown in familial bliss when the bourgeois ideology of consumerism is not enough to keep the family together. The movie begins with a dinner party which has a couple of socialites too preoccupied to tend to their needy child. When this neglect leads to a suicide attempt and subsequent death, the child's mother, Irene (Bergman), is forced to look at the world differently. Suddenly aware of the suffering around her, Irene becomes dedicated to a self-sacrificial lifestyle which inevitably leads to her demise. The final bleak message of the film is that too much generosity and good will may be construed as mental illness in the world we live in.
Journey to Italy (1954) was the most commercially viable of Rossellini's collaborations with Bergman, charting the decline of marital bliss between an English husband and wife (Bergman and George Sanders) on a road trip in the country near Naples. This is also the film which receives the most attention in this set, with a second disc exclusively for the supplements while the other films had only one.
All three movies are presented with digital restoration and the original monaural soundtrack. Stromboli is presented with a 4K digital restoration, and also has a 2K digital restoration of the Italian-language version, Stromboli terra di Dio. Europe '51 is also available in two versions: a 2K digital restoration of the English-language version and a high-definition restoration of the Italian-language version, which is 9 minutes longer and a different cut of the same material. There is only one version of Journey to Italy, presented with a 4K digital restoration and uncompressed monaural soundtrack.
All three films come with an optional introduction by Rossellini, as well as a plethora of other features with film critics and filmmakers alike praising the collaborations between these two international legends, including new interviews with film critic Adriano Aprà. Stromboli also has a making-of documentary from 1998 and Europe '51 has a new interview with film historian Elena Dagrada on the alternate versions of the film. Journey to Italy has a commentary track with film scholar Laura Mulvey, as well as new interviews from a handful of scholars and experts. The second disc has even more, including an additional short film directed by Rossellini and starring Bergman, and a documentary about each of them. There are also more interviews with family members and some home footage.
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The religious dimensions are always challenging in Rossellini's work, and none so much as with these three films.
Il Viaggio in Italia is a masterpiece..a study of a marrigae with an ending that is shattering. NB, do not overlook the tour of the museum with Bergman and her guide, or the visit to the skulls!! Pompey also!!
Stromboli, a real volcano, tempts Ingrid with its heat and power. A priest is involved, a young sailor, and her desire to get off this island that is a sort of hell or heaven or what?.
This is what Bergman gave up Hollyuwoo for and was she on target. No longer Sister Ingrid in that Bells of St Mary, but an actress with powerful material to deal with, interpret, and a great director.
Do not miss Rossellini's "St, Francis" a gem.