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“Take The Hardest Path” – Roberto Rossellini’s “Voyage to Italy”


In July 2009, I wrote in Senses of Cinema about Rossellini’s remarkable Voyage to Italy that the film “was shot from 2 February through 30 April 1953, on a variety of locations throughout Italy, including Naples, Capri, Pompeii, and at the Titanus studios in Rome, and was a tempestuous production throughout. The plot is simple: an unhappily married couple, Katherine (Ingrid Bergman) and Alex Joyce (George Sanders) are traveling from London through Italy to Naples, where they have inherited a villa.

Bergman-and-Rossellini

Their marriage is a shambles, and they quarrel constantly; indeed, it is hard to imagine a more ill suited couple in the history of cinema. Katherine, relatively young and vibrant, seems trapped in a loveless match with the ill-tempered, dour Alex, who thinks only of money, and openly flirts with other women while ignoring his wife. Katherine has made the journey not only to sell the villa, but also in the hope that the “voyage” will reignite the passion of their marriage; instead, as the trip becomes more complex, and fraught with delays and interruptions, Alex’s boredom and frustration turns to outright hostility towards his wife.

In desperation, Katherine recounts to her disaffected husband the tale of a former suitor who, long ago, has been passionately in love with her; but Alex is unmoved, and Katherine seems resigned to the fact that their marriage will end in divorce, as soon as the necessary papers for the sale of the villa have been signed. The couple decide to split up, and spend their remaining time in Naples separately; Katherine visits a series of natural wonders with a succession of paid, only professionally attentive Italian tour guides, while Alex seeks out the company of a group of British nationals vacationing in Capri.

Katherine’s time is nevertheless redolent of the state of her collapsing marriage; viewing the ruins of Pompeii, with human bodies still entombed in centuries-old ash, as well as witnessing first-hand a small volcanic eruption on a tour, Katherine seems lost, lonely, and disconnected from the world around her, yet at the same time she years for some sort of human compassion. Alex is clearly disinterested.

And yet, in the film’s final, unforgettable sequence, as the now-reunited, but still-quarreling couple watch a passing religious procession, they are seized with an unexpected emotion, and fervently embrace each other, declaring their love, and wondering how they could possibly have become so estranged. Their renewal of love is a miracle, entirely inexplicable by any conventional narrative standards; the entire film, indeed, has been consistently moving away from such a reconciliation.

Love appears to have conquered a seemingly irreparable emotional breakdown. It is one of the most unexpected and transcendent moments in not just all of Rossellini, but in all of cinema; as one might imagine, the ending was also highly controversial at the time of the film’s release, and remains so, because it seems to come out of thin air, rather than in response to any section or aspect of the film’s narrative exposition.”

Much of the film was improvised; often Rossellini didn’t really know which direction the film was going in. The actors, especially George Sanders, were often irritated by Rossellini’s seeming indecision during the production, but the director was searching for something through the film, something perhaps related to his difficult and ultimately doomed relationship with Ingrid Bergman, who worked with Rossellini in three of his films, and abandoned her Hollywood career to work with him in Italy.

As I observed back in 2009, “Voyage to Italy is a film in search of itself, a film that only knows its own conclusion when it appears, miraculously, in front of it, arriving at a final destination that no one in the audience could possibly have foreseen. And yet, the final moments of the film seem absolutely ‘right’; indeed, it seems to be the only possible conclusion to the film.” And yet this could not have been an easy path to take; rather, it was a jump into the void, with only the slightest idea of how the film would finally end. And yet only with such a quest can anything worthwhile be made; if you aren’t searching for something, then you are lost.

“When you don’t know which path to take, choose the hardest one.” – Roberto Rossellini

Tags: Discovery, Experimental Cinema, Film Business, Film Criticism, Film History, Foreign Films, independent feature films, Ingrid Bergman, Italian Cinema, Robert Rossellini, Senses of Cinema, Voyage to Italy, Wheeler Winston Dixon

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 at 3:18 pm and is filed under Criticism, Experimental Cinema, Film Business, Film Criticism, Film History, Foreign Films, History, Humanities, Inside Stuff, Publishing, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Fuente: http://blog.unl.edu/dixon/2017/08/08/take-the-hardest-path-roberto-rossellinisvoyage-to-italy/


Viernes, 8 de septiembre de 2017 Sin comentarios

Classic 40s Movie: Les enfants du paradis | Go Into The Story


Classic 40s Movie: Les enfants du paradis

And a masterpiece of storytelling of a kind that’s out of the mind of an utterly unique sensibility obsessed with ambiguity: political, sexual, moral—that of director Marcel Carné, himself a study in ambiguity. (Sidebar: Walk, don’t run to read William Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity. You’ll learn more about writing than you ever thought possible. This is a former investigative journalist telling you this.)

What may well have been structured as a film acceptable to the Nazi/Vichy regime in occupied France and filmed under well-nigh impossible wartime conditions, rife with accusations of collaboration and even anti-semitism, Les Enfants has survived all that to become what’s generally accepted as the French film of the 20th Century.

It’s a Victor Hugo-scale piece of storytelling that’s not about the Anglo-Saxon tradition of allegory and linear storytelling but a “grasp in the dark” at the ancient Greek form of melodrama, in which the powerless seek glimpses of significance from the gods, essentially mysterious.

But why?

“What people really are (winking), really, at the bottom of their hearts, they keep quiet about, they hide carefully,” suggests Lacenaire, Garance’s lover and the criminal doomed to the guillotine. Les Enfants is the best investigation I’ve ever seen of ambiguity, those things we do to keep ourselves from ourselves.

Fuente: Classic 40s Movie: Les enfants du paradis | Go Into The Story.


Domingo, 11 de octubre de 2015 Sin comentarios

Las 33 tomas del inicio de ‘La carta’ « TCM | El cine que ya tenías que haber visto


La famosa secuencia en que Leslie Crosbie dispara a su amante fue también la primera escena de la película en rodarse. “Esa escena inicial debía dejar al espectador en estado de shock. Todo debía estar muy tranquilo y silencioso al principio para conseguir el máximo impacto con el disparo”, declararía más adelante Wyler.

Tanta calma, sin embargo, acabó poniendo de los nervios a los ejecutivos de Warner. Y es que la escena, que dura alrededor de dos minutos, tardó un día entero en filmarse, un tiempo excesivo teniendo en cuenta que Wyler debía rodar tres o cuatro páginas de guión al día y que aquel comienzo apenas ocupaba un párrafo. Wyler, es cierto, tenía fama de tomarse su tiempo, pero aquello era demasiado.

“Su fijación por rodar incontables tomas se convirtió en una obsesión en esa escena”, contaba el productor Hal Wallis en su autobiografía Starmarker. “Se podía haber hecho en dos o tres tomas, pero Wyler insistió y finalmente se hicieron 33. Había que recargar una y otra vez la munición de Bette, limpiar la ropa del extra que interpretaba a la víctima y coger a la cacatúa y volver a ponerla en su sitio para que reaccionara al sonido de las balas. Todos estábamos agotados. Sobre todo Bette, que no podía ni sujetar la pistola. Sin embargo, él disfrutaba. La escena le gustaba tanto que simplemente disfrutaba rodándola una y otra vez” .

Cuando la jornada acabó, Wallis se llevó las 33 tomas a casa y, con gran resignación, pasó la noche entera viéndolas y seleccionando una para el montaje. Una vez que la película estuvo finalizada, Wyler y Wallis volvieron a charlar sobre la famosa escena. Al ver que el productor estaba tan satisfecho con el resultado, el director aprovechó para sacar pecho y decirle: “¿Ves? Ahora te das cuenta de lo importante que fue rodarla 33 veces”. “No creas”, respondió Wallis sacando más pecho todavía. “Me quedé con la primera toma”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWyA6LT0DdU

Fuente: Las 33 tomas del inicio de ‘La carta’ « TCM | El cine que ya tenías que haber visto.


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Viernes, 10 de octubre de 2014 Sin comentarios