Stromboli Screen 7 articles



Stromboli Poster
  • The film is most modern and remarkable when the camera is alone with Bergman, though Rossellini wisely shows neither the wife nor the husband with full sympathy. Eschewing psychology, the film remains a kind of ambiguous pieta whose religious ending is as controversial as that of Rossellini and Bergman's subsequent Voyage to Italy... Rossellini's blend of documentary and fiction is as provocative as usual, but it also makes the film choppy and awkward...

  • Rossellini's technique is thoroughly modern: it could have been made last week, or next year, by Jean-Luc Godard. The island setting is made solid and real, but the landscape still carries a powerful metaphorical force. The ending seems all the more beautiful for being dramatically arbitrary: grace enters Bergman's life at the brink of a volcano.

  • Rossellini's avoidance of beautiful composition and "artistic" cinematic devices is a sign of a new and original way of looking at the world. He didn't seek to circumscribe or control the action, but rather to observe it, even to wait for it to happen, as in Stromboli's extraordinary tuna-fishing sequence.

  • Rossellini directed Stromboli and other films of this period as though theatrical drama had never existed. His camera covers the action with few cuts or tight framings while the interaction between characters may seem ‘superficial’, lacking the familiar layers of development. Essentially he tells his story without expression: dialogue does not explore its subject matter, actors don’t ‘act’ so much as they ‘behave’, images are not ‘beautiful’ pictures of their subjects.

  • As in the second segment of AMORE or the final third of EUROPA '51 (his next collaboration with Bergman), Rossellini creates a scenario of terrible suffering to imagine what sainthood might look like in modern, even secular, terms. For some, Bergman's plight in STROMBOLI looks more like martyrdom than sainthood (The film culminates, famously, on top of an active volcano), but the film's underlying moral seriousness cannot be mistaken.

  • When I first saw Stromboli (1950) years ago, it resonated with me as no film had before, intensely and unswervingly—not least because I was identifying with Karin, the heroine, a woman cast out and traumatized, living in limbo and acting rashly to get herself out of that state. Seeing Strombolinow, after so many years, I am no less amazed by what Roberto Rossellini accomplished: the film is so direct and unforgiving, so absorbed with its flawed yet captivating protagonist...

  • The director’s supreme documentary achievement, however, lies in the recording of his irritable inamorata, a thorny snapshot of a Nordic Hollywood goddess awkwardly traipsing through jagged neorealist terrain and, in the process, delivering one of the medium’s great performances. "You can’t go from one extreme to another... All I want now is a little happiness!" A pivotal bedrock formation in cinema and no mistake, Flaherty and Vidor go in and Antonioni comes out.

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