Europe '51

Europe '51

DVD | Italian
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Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy, self-absorbed Rome socialite racked by guilt over the shocking death of her young son. As a way of dealing with her grief and finding meaning in her life, she decides to devote her time and money to the city's poor and sick. Her newfound, single-minded activism leads to conflicts with her husband and questions about her sanity.


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Jan 14, 2017

I got the feeling that this was Ilsa Lund, married and grown up with a family. (Ilsa was played by Ingrid Bergman in the film with Bogart). She is now living in Rome, wealthy and a socialite with a young boy. I get this feeling because director Rossellini is in love with Ingrid Bergman and it shows. Ingrid is extremely beautiful in every frame, lit angelically (for reason), even when she is (spoiler alert) committed to an insane asylum. The Italians loved "Casablanca", as they did with many American movies from that era. Fellini pays homage to Hollywood films and stars in several of his movies, for example. And so what happens at the end of Casablanca? Did the two lovers get together again? No, Ilsa ended up in London, married a wealthy Englishman who was stationed in Rome, and set up a family. I am sorry, I can't get the Casablanca thing out of my head. But it works (she has her child during wartime in London, protecting her young son in bomb shelters during air raids, so conceivably this could work!) if you want it to. But it is true that Roberto was absolutely in love with Ingrid, and she of him. She is pregnant with her twin daughters in the movie (it doesn't show).

However, props must be given to Rossellini for this fine film. It is very Italian, yet it does include other western values in it as she is married to a Brit and there are American colleagues from their places of work (oil industry), but these people are upper class, and Rossellini treats them as aloof, detached people only concerned with their own issues and looking good. The story is one of loss and found, with heavy religious overtones as well as state (bureaucracy) and political feelings all taking place post war. Communism was (and is) a huge player after the war (and prewar) wherein Italy is rudderless and is grasping at stability and future for the country while not trying to rock its position in Europe and the world. The Christian Democrats will be the party that rules all through the changes in the next 50 years, but in the meantime, there is a tug-of-war for all involved with this notion of communism and rich vs poor.

This film is beautifully crafted and still uses the 'Realism' that made Rossellini the household cinema name in the frames that include street views of Rome, and especially in the 'ghetto' areas where we see wonderful new brutalist architecture in the new social housing dead center of the older social housing that was constructed prewar. The distant shots of the Basilica Papale di San Paolo fuori le Mura (Saint Paul Outside The Walls) with the mosaic facade catching the sunlight in the Ostiense district of Rome is clever (Church/religion always there, in the background) as Ingrid fumbles her way around destitute (but happy) families.

I saw this film for the first time last night, and the night before I watched "The Facts Of Murder" (Un maledetto imbroglio) which was made almost ten years later. You should watch these two films together. "Facts of..." owes much to Rossellini in the Realism, lots of Rome playing main character, and plenty of bureaucracy - so much so it gets frustrating, like real Italian living! and the characters are lovable and despicable. But I'll save my review for the actual movie page.

The music for Europe '51 is also very good. One cannot expect a Nino Rota or Ennio Morricone for every Italian movie. Renzo Rossellini (Roberto's younger brother) provides a solid, classic score that becomes ethereal at just the right moments, almost a modern ambient sound in some points. And it's a first for a producing team of Carlo Ponti and Dino DeLaurentis. It was a flop, I am sure not anyone's fault, especially the producers, but I am sure Carlo and Dino must've parted ways soon after? Roberto went over to Television after this...

lrg8957 Oct 12, 2013

Which 3 films?

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