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Living in an Italian refugee camp in 1948, the beautiful Karin meets Antonio, a resident of the men's camp. Though not in love with him, Karin marries him and they soon head for his home village, Stromboli. The village is on a remote island at the foot of an active volcano. When they arrive Karin despairs of the barren land and the absence of people, as many have left, mostly for the United States. She doesn't speak the local dialect and is treated with disdain by locals who see her as an exotic foreigner and a loose woman. After Antonio beats her and locks her in their house, she sets off across the mountains to seek her freedom and a better future.Written by
A bleak indiscretion...sub-standard Rossellini and Bergman...
Other recent commentaries on this film call it a "masterpiece". I strongly disagree. When it opened the reviews were as bleak and indifferent to it as Karen (Ingrid Bergman) is to the island of Stromboli. No one considered it up to Rossellini's "Open City" or "Paisan" in terms of genuine artifice. It was termed bleak and undistinguished with a plodding script that could only be called simplistic in terms of dialogue.
Fine B&W cinematography of a desolate island and scenes of an actual volcano eruption are not enough to make a 107-minute movie tailored to demonstrate the neo-realism of Ingrid Bergman's acting now that she had shed her Hollywood glamour. Bergman is ill served by a poorly developed character and embarrassingly inept scenes between her and her Italian fisherman husband (Mario Vitale).
There is startling realism in the tuna fishing sequence and harsh realism in the desolate landscape and close-ups of island people, but Rossellini did not seem to have a well developed or finished script in mind when he began shooting what others have called a "masterpiece". There is no doubt that had he the advantage of a well structured and conceived screenplay he might have been effective in telling this kind of story. But with the camera lingering on an anguished Ingrid Bergman sobbing in scene after scene of emotional isolation, the viewer is left with the feeling that this is little more than a post-war documentary in search of a coherent plot.
The unresolved ending used in the U.S. print is not the original ending, by the way, and leaves the viewer with the feeling he has witnessed an unfinished screenplay. It is said that Rossellini began shooting without a complete script on a day to day basis that must have been a strain on Bergman. It shows when he spends an inordinate amount of time on a fishing sequence that has little to do with furthering the slight plot. Too bad he didn't start the project with a finished script and a firm focus for his content.
The background music is oddly silent during some of the most emotional moments and despite Italian chants of fishermen the soundtrack remains mostly barren of any interesting content.
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