Journey to Italy
March 3, 2016 § Leave a comment
After the death of Jacques Rivette last month I wanted to see one of his films, on a big screen in a cinema rather than through a DVD in my living room. There were no public screenings in the offing, but by chance, through a friend, I got invited to a private one with a roomful of people watching La Belle Noiseuse, which I had never seen before, on a big roll-down screen. That’s for another time. For now, I thought I’d re-post what I wrote about Rossellini’s Journey to Italy in 2013. The film was a great influence on Rivette.
When asked by Eric Rohmer and François Truffaut about Journey to Italy in a Cahiers du Cinéma interview, Roberto Rossellini described the importance of Naples: “… that strange atmosphere which is mingled with the very real, very immediate, very deep feeling, the sense of eternal life.”
The city of Naples, its bay, its islands, its volcano and the site of Pompeii are not merely the setting for the film, they are its pulse, the vitality of its human figures and the potent endurance of its ancient places quickening the slow-paced drama of an English couple who have driven to Italy to sell a recently inherited villa. As plot, Journey to Italy meanders, yet, watching, I found shot after beautiful shot elusive, tantalising, and I wanted to stop the couple’s Rolls-Royce and enter the flow of the busy Naples streets, where Ingrid Bergman’s character is disturbed by the presence of so…
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