Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 9:17 pm
Re: 86 Voyage in Italy
Voyage in Italy
It may be easy to pass off Voyage in Italy as a simple film. Frankly, it doesn't offer a deeply intellectual storyline or terribly deep characters. But it is one of the films that helped establish Italian neo-realism as a style. Critics such as Truffaut have lauded it as "the beginning of modern cinema".
We begin with a British couple who have come to southern Italy to sell off the property of a deceased relative. While experiencing intense culture shock, they realize that they have nothing in common with one another. Despite the lively and beautiful surroundings, they have trouble staving off boredom and quickly begin to resent each other. Eventually, they spend time alone and explore the Italian countryside. By the end of the film they have reunited.
Voyage in Italy's best asset is its setting and the way Rossellini depicts it. At the beginning of the film, accompanied by the ending notes of the opening credits, we are informed visually that this film will be a journey. This is the storytelling technique employed throughout the film. Apart from a stupid monologue delivered by Bergman (I blame the script), we primarily learn about our characters and their feelings through their actions and their environment. Accompanied with occasionally beautiful music, we see Bergman and Sanders look out across the water to where their partners lie. Yet despite the visual nature of what is being conveyed, we are rarely treated to manipulative set pieces. To Rossellini, the countryside is what it is. Occasionally beautiful, enriched by history, and sometimes unimportant. It is his tool. The times we appreciate it most are the times that we feel for our protagonists. For example, one of the film's best scenes is when Bergman stands at the summit of the temple of Apollo and looks across to the island where her husband is staying.
Overall, the acting is pretty good. There were times at the beginning where I confused the stiff upper lip British attitude with poor delivery, but it greatly improved from there. There is one scene where George Sander's character is trying to get some wine from the Italian servants that is pure gold. I have to say though, I've never been a huge fan of Ingrid Bergman. Apart from these two, it seems that all other characters exist only to set up situations for the protagonists, so there are no secondary characters to speak of.
The script is very simple. Overall, it works well, but there are a few scenes that could have been done better. For example, when Bergman's character is exploring the museum and the Roman ruins, it would have worked better if she had done it with one of the people from the house rather than a random "tour guide" with an annoying voice. Some of these scenes seemed to drag as well. I realize that they mainly served to establish a visual style, but they seemed kind of pointless to the story.
It is easy to see the influence Voyage in Italy has had on modern cinema, both in terms of visual style and story telling techniques. While I realize I have criticized it for pacing, it is impossible to ignore the effects it has had. I would look to this film as a perfect example of Italian neo-realism, but not much else. It seems more like a proof of concept.