Tuesday, July 9, 2013

#672: 3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman

(Roberto Rossellini, 1950-54)

Rossellini is about to become the only director with two spine-numbered boxsets in the Collection, a designation that's well-deserved. The director is often overlooked on lists of the best filmmakers ever - even Italy has produced a number of filmmakers that often get mentioned before him, such as Fellini, Antonioni, and De Sica - but his influence on modern film, especially in Europe, cannot be overstated. The three films in this boxset were made during his most notorious era, when he met Ingrid Bergman and began an affair with her, despite the fact that both were married to other people at the time.

3 Films by Roberto Rossellini has no chance of measuring up to its cousin and Criterion's #500 spine, Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy, which contains three of the most significant films in history. The movie that comes closest is Journey to Italy, the third film in the set and ironically the least ambitious. Although it shares a late epiphany with Stromboli and some drawing room melodrama with Europe '51, the film is much more mature and restrained than either of the other films in this box. It's also a deep and complex examination of marriage and generally knowing a person too well. Kiarostami was heavily influenced by the film when he made Certified Copy, one of the great films of the last decade, and I wouldn't be surprised if it ranked high on Antonioni's list either.

Criterion is still doing a giant service with this set. All three of these films have been unfairly neglected (none were originally hits) and the only available prints or discs were in shoddy condition. I'm excited to see the finished product, especially with regards to Journey to Italy, which I would say is one of the great overlooked films of the post-war era.

Links to individual reviews:

Europe '51
Journey to Italy

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