Friday, May 03, 2013

Voyage to Italy 1954

I went to the Film Forum yesterday to see the newly restored Roberto Rossellini 1954 film “Voyage to Italy” (Sometimes referred to as “Journey to Italy”) that starred Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders. They play a bored dull English couple in an unhappy marriage traveling to Italy by car (the area around Naples to be exact) to sell a house left to them by Sander’s Uncle Homer. The distaste and disgust they have for each other is palpable on both their faces and in their words and actions to each other. Married 8 years I wondered how did these two last that long.  Rossellini is after more than just showing us a movie about the disintegration of an unhappy marriage, the film is certainly about that, but he uses the geography, architecture and landscapes, the exteriors and interiors of rooms and houses of Italy along with the visual surfaces and appeal of the Italians themselves to create a mood and an environment of alienation and despair for this unhappy pair to move through and about. I liked this film for the sense of place and sorrow and how he places Bergman (who he was married to at the time, and one wonders how autobiographical this film is) usually alone in museums viewing beautiful erotic sculptures, at the volcanic pools at Vesuvius, in a catacomb filled with ancient skulls and bones, in a cave that resonates with echoes and in the ruins of Pompeii.  These are of course places of ancient lost, sorrow and decay nicely illustrating Bergman’s own sense of sorrow and loss. Meanwhile Sanders has absolutely no feeling, sense or appreciation of where he is, and would like to be back in London where he toils at some dull job that is never mentioned goes off on a jaunt to Capri to visit friends of the upper class with a touch of  La Boheme thrown in (is that a lesbian I spotted?) where his attempt at a sexual fling with one of the guests is ironically misplaced (she is married).  Bergman is beautiful with her sensuality buried as deeply as the lost citizens of Pompeii, and longs for something more than what she is getting in this sour relationship but is at a loss for finding and expressing her true self on her own journey of self-discovery. The somewhat miraculous and optimistic ending left me cold and doubtful but still this is a film that should be seen by anyone interested in the cinema.     


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