Roberto Rossellini is considered the godfather of Italian neorealism, having inspired the movement with his internationally successful Rome Open City (1945). This film and his next, Paison (1946), utilized the bombed out cities devastated by World War II in order to make films with real locations rather than sets. They also often used non-actors for the roles, so many saw it as a betrayal when Rossellini began working with Swedish actress turned
star, Ingrid Bergman. The professional relationship quickly became a romantic
one, though never entirely private.
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.
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.
(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 . 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. Naples
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 ,
presented with a 4K digital restoration and uncompressed monaural soundtrack. Italy
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.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 10/10
Disc Features: 10/10