Blu-ray, DVD Release: 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman

Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Sept. 24, 2013
Price: DVD $99.95, Blu-ray $99.95
Studio: Criterion


Journey to Italy

George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman's marriage falls apart in Roberto Rossellini's Journey to Italy.

In the late 1940s, the incandescent Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca ) found herself so moved by the revolutionary Neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini (Open City) that she sent the director a letter, introducing herself and offering her talents. The resulting collaboration produced a series of films that are works of both sociopolitical concern and metaphysical melodrama, each starring Bergman as a woman experiencing physical dislocation and psychic torment in postwar Italy. It also famously led to a scandalous affair and eventual marriage between filmmaker and star, and the focus on their personal lives in the press unfortunately overshadowed the extraordinary films they made together.

Stromboli, Europe ’51, and Journey to Italy are intensely personal portraits that reveal the director at his most emotional and the glamorous actor at her most anguished, and that capture them and the world around them in transition.

Here’s a rundown on the three film dramas:

STROMBOLI (1951)
The first collaboration between Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman is a devastating portrait of a woman’s existential crisis, set against the beautiful and forbidding backdrop of a volcanic island. After World War II, a Lithuanian refugee (Bergman) marries a simple Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) she meets in a prisoner of war camp and accompanies him back to his isolated village on an island off the coast of Sicily. Cut off from the world, she finds herself crumbling emotionally, but she is destined for a dramatic epiphany. Stromboli balances the director’s trademark with deeply felt melodrama.

EUROPE ’51 (1952)
Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy, self-absorbed socialite in Rome 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. The intense, often unfairly overlooked Europe ’51 was, according to Rossellini, a retelling of his own The Flowers of St. Francis from a female perspective. This unabashedly political but sensitively conducted investigation of modern sainthood was the director’s favorite of his films.

JOURNEY TO ITALY (1954)
Among the most influential dramatic works of the postwar era, Journey to Italy charts the declining marriage of a couple (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) from England while on a trip in the countryside near Naples. More than just an anatomy of a relationship, Rossellini’s masterpiece is considered a predecessor to the existentialist films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Hailed as a groundbreaking modernist work by the legendary film journal Cahiers du cinéma and named by director Martin Scorsese as one of his favorite films, Journey to Italy is a breathtaking cinematic benchmark.

The DVD and Blu-ray editions of the collection contain the following features:

• New digital film restorations of the English- and Italian-language versions of Stromboli and Europe ’51 and the English-language version of Journey to Italy, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions
• Archival television introductions by director Roberto Rossellini to all three films
• Audio commentary for Journey to Italy featuring scholar Laura Mulvey
Rossellini Through His Own Eyes, a 1992 documentary on the filmmaker’s approach to cinema, featuring archival interviews with Rossellini and actor Ingrid Bergman
• New visual essays about Rossellini by scholars Tag Gallagher and James Quandt
Rossellini Under the Volcano, a 1998 documentary that returns to the island of Stromboli fifty years after the making of Stromboli
• New interview with critic Adriano Aprà about each of the films
• New interview with Fiorella Mariani, Rossellini’s niece, featuring home movies shot by Bergman
• New interview with film historian Elena Degrada about the different versions of Europe ’51
• New interviews with Isabella Rossellini and Ingrid Rossellini, daughters of Rossellini and Bergman
• Ingrid Bergman Remembered, a 1996 documentary on the actor’s life, narrated by her daughter Pia Lindstrom
My Dad Is 100 Years Old, a 2005 short film, directed by Guy Maddin and starring Isabella Rossellini
The Chicken, a 1952 short film by Roberto Rossellini, starring Bergman
A Short Visit with the Rossellini Family, a six-minute film shot on Capri while the family was there during the production of Journey to Italy
• New English subtitle translation for Stromboli and Europe ’51
• A booklet featuring essays by critics Richard Brody, Fred Camper, Dina Iordanova, and Paul Thomas; letters exchanged by Rossellini and Bergman; “Why I Directed Stromboli,” a 1950 article by Rossellini; a 1954 interview with Rossellini conducted by Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut for Cahiers du cinéma; and excerpts from a 1965 interview with Rossellini conducted by Aprà and Maurizio Ponzi for Filmcritica

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.