Journey To Italy

(Viaggio in Italia)

New digital restoration!

Poster art for re-issue of Journey To ItalyOne of the most quietly revolutionary works in the history of cinema, Roberto Rossellini’s third feature starring Ingrid Bergman (his wife at the time), from 1954, turns romantic melodrama into an intellectual adventure.

An English couple – Alex Joyce (George Sanders), a cynical, supercilious businessman, and his sensitive, cultured wife, Katherine (Bergman) – arrive in Naples to deal with an inheritance. As they travel alone together for the first time in eight years of childless marriage, their festering estrangement, from each other and from their comfortable way of life, bursts into open conflict.

Filming on location, Rossellini devotes as much attention to the Italian settings and their cultural treasures as to the characters wandering among them; at Pompeii, the entwined bodies of lovers blasted by Vesuvius put an existential spin on Katherine’s misery. Rossellini realizes his political agenda – regarding the discontents of bourgeois sophisticates whose sensibility is stunted by comfort – with a vision of redemption through aesthetic passion and roiling populist experience.

Like his characters, his Hollywood stars go out of the Bentley and into the streets. From Rossellini’s example, the young French New Wave critics learned to fuse studio style with European philosophy, to make high-relief drama on a low budget.

– Richard Brody, The New Yorker


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