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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

3 Films By Roberto Rossellini (Stromboli, Europe 51', Journey to Italy) [Blu-ray]

 

(Roberto Rossellini, 1950, 1952, 1954)

 

 

 

 

Covers

Blu-ray Package:

Stromboli

Europe 51'

Journey to Italy

Runtime:

Stromboli: 1:46:34.012

Stromboli, terra di Dio: 1:40:30.746

Europe 51': 1:49:46.239

Europa 51': 1:58:21.677

1:25:40.760
Disc Size:

48,318,563,659 bytes

47,595,115,153 bytes

45,516,976,774 bytes
Feature Size:

21,823,715,328 bytes

23,706,980,352 bytes

25,275,807,744 bytes
Video Bitrate 23.71 Mbps 23.11 Mbps 34.98 Mbps
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Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Berit Films / Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica / Italia Film

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #672 (#673-675)

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Case: Custom Blu-ray Sleeve case

Release date: September 24th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit (all 3 features)

LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit (Stromboli Terra Di Dio and Europa 51' Italian versions)

Commentary on Journey to Italy: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• 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
Archival television introductions by director Roberto Rossellini to all three films (Stromboli: 1:57, Europe 51': 4:58 , Journey to Italy: 2:10)
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 (1:02:23)
New visual essays about Rossellini by scholars Tag Gallagher (Living and Departed - 22:37 ) and James Quandt (Surprised by Death - 38:56)
Rossellini Under the Volcano, a 1998 documentary that returns to the island of Stromboli fifty years after the making of Stromboli (45:07)
New interview with critic Adriano AprÓ about each of the films (Stromboli: 16:34, Europe 51': 18:26, Journey to Italy: 11:04)
New interview with Fiorella Mariani, Rossellini’s niece, featuring home movies shot by Bergman (14:49)

• Martin Scorsese talking to Kent Jones (11:13)
New interviews with Isabella Rossellini and Ingrid Rossellini, daughters of Roberto Rossellini and Bergman (32:00)

• New: Elena Dagrada Version Comparison - Europe 51' : The Tragedy of Nonconformism (36:07)
Ingrid Bergman Remembered, a 1996 documentary on the actor’s life, narrated by her daughter Pia Lindstrom (50:07)
My Dad Is 100 Years Old, a 2005 short film, directed by Guy Maddin and starring Isabella Rossellini
(17:02)
The Chicken, a 1952 short film by Roberto Rossellini, starring Bergman (16:02)
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 (5:17)
New English subtitle translation for Stromboli and Europe '51
PLUS: 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 Franšois Truffaut for Cahiers du cinÚma; and excerpts from a 1965 interview with Rossellini conducted by AprÓ and Maurizio Ponzi for Filmcriticah.

 

Bitrate:

Stromboli

 

 

Europe 51'

 

 

Journey to Italy

 

 

Description: In the late 1940s, the incandescent Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman found herself so stirred by the revolutionary neorealist films of Roberto Rossellini 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 moving portraits that reveal the director at his most emotional and the glamorous actress at her most anguished, and that capture them and the world around them in transition.

 

 

The Film (Stromboli):

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. Balancing the director’s trademark neorealism—exemplified here in a remarkable depiction of the fishermen’s lives and work—with deeply felt melodrama, Stromboli is a revelation.

***

Italian neo-realist pioneer Roberto Rossellini made his first (and, as it turned out, last) Hollywood-backed film with Stromboli. Karin (Ingrid Bergman) is a war refugee from Lithuania who has been placed in an internment camp. Desperate to get out and with few options, she accepts a proposal of marriage from Antonio (Mario Vitale), a fisherman who lives on the island of Stromboli. However, Karin soon finds that life on the island is only a minor improvement over the prison camp; she's an outsider there and doesn't fit in with the locals. Karin's discomfort turns to terror when the island's volcano threatens to erupt. Stromboli became infamous in its time when word got out that Bergman was having an affair with Rossellini; Bergman would eventually leave her husband and marry Rossellini, but the scandal all but killed this film at the box office. Rossellini's battles with producer Howard Hughes hardly helped: while Rossellini's cut of the film was eventually released on tape in the United States, on initial release Hughes had Alfred Werker cut it from 117 minutes to 81 minutes and add a new ending.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Stromboli arrives on Criterion Blu-ray in both English and Italian language versions (Stromboli Terra di Dio) - both in 1080P (NOT seamlessly branched).  Firstly, I don't see a lot of difference between the two but did not do an extensive comparison.  Putting both on a dual-layered disc with extras in HD doesn't make either transfer particularly robust but the image looks acceptable. It is clean, flat but strong contrast although some of the whites are leaning to being too bright in the first 1/2 hour. Criterion were, of course, at the mercy of the source but did their magic - grain is supported and detail advances as the film runs.  This Blu-ray is no demo but the best we are ever likely to get for this masterpiece. I am very pleased.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) English Language version Blu-ray - TOP

2) Italian Language version (subtitle sample) Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

All three films have a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. This lossless transfer is duplicated for the two Italian tracks (Stromboli Terra Di Dio and Europa 51'). I'm afraid I was always aware of the DUB issues but it's great to have the option of the original English track and there are optional English subtitles for both - my Oppo has, predictably, identified it as being a region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

Like on all three features we get an archival television introduction by director Roberto Rossellini - in the case of Stromboli it is only 2-minutes long. All three features also offer a new interview with critic Adriano AprÓ - specific to the film and we are given 16-minutes for Stromboli (it Italian with English subtitles.) Also on this disc is the 45-minute, 1998, documentary Rossellini Under the Volcano were we return to the island of Stromboli fifty years after the making of the film.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The Film (Europe 51'):

Ingrid Bergman plays a wealthy, self-absorbed Rome socialite 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 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.

***

Only a few of the films that grew from the notorious liaison between actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini were truly worthy of their talents. One such was the Italian-made Europa '51. Playing a character far older than herself, Bergman portrays a society woman whose life is in ruins after her son's suicide. Attempting to give her life some purpose, she takes the advice of a leftist friend, and begins working with the ill and destitute of Rome. Her insensitive husband Alexander Knox finds Bergman's charitable activities distasteful; when the opportunity presents itself, he has her committed to a mental institution. By the time Europa '51 was released in the US in 1954, its title -- and much of its political ideology -- had been outdated. The film was pared from 118 to 110 minutes for US consumption, and retitled The Greatest Love.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

We get a similar deal to the Stromboli disc with the two versions (English and Italian) of Europe 51' and Europa 51' - their own 1080P transfers (not seamlessly branched.) The overall image on Blu-ray is improved from Stromboli but there are some masked damage marks - usually in the form of vertical scratches (see two samples below). The vertical marks are frequently there to varying degrees of prominence. In one scene I noticed a hair stuck in the gate but this is being too picky.  Although I didn't do a full comparison I'd say in this case the Italian language version, Europa 51', is a shade darker and not quite as 'even' as the English language version transfer. Actually there is some inconsistency here as well with both more impressive scenes and others with inferiorities.  Overall, the dual-layered disc produces a decent HD presentation showing grain, a touch of noise but pleasing detail in close-ups. I really have no strong complaints and accept that this is the best the films will look for home theatre viewing.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) English Language version (Europe 51') Blu-ray - TOP

2) Italian Language version (Europa 51') Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vertical Scratch / Damage

 

 

 

Audio :

Again, all three films have a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. This lossless transfer offers the same personal issue I have with the DUBs (all Italian films, in Italian, were DUBBED), although completed my viewing with Europe 51'. Again, relatively clean but susceptible to the production and source. There are optional English subtitles for both - and all four disc are region 'A' disc.

 

Extras :

We get another introduction from Rossellini - almost 5-minutes on Europe 51' as well as a 20-minute interview with critic Adriano AprÓ. Criterion have a new 36-minute piece with Elena Dagrada comparing the differences, and similarities in the two versions entitled The Tragedy of Nonconformism.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

(aka "Voyage in Italy" or "Voyage to Italy" or "Viaggio in Italia" or "Strangers" )

 

The Film (Journey to Italy):

Among the most influential films of the postwar era, Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia) charts the declining marriage of a couple from England (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) on a trip in the countryside near Naples. More than just the anatomy of a relationship, Rossellini’s masterpiece is a heartrending work of emotion and spirituality. Considered a predecessor to the existentialist works of Michelangelo Antonioni and hailed as a groundbreaking modernist work by the legendary film journal Cahiers du cinéma, Journey to Italy is a breathtaking cinematic benchmark.

***

Roberto Rossellini directs this drama starring his then-wife Ingrid Bergman as Katherine Joyce, a wealthy British woman who accompanies her husband, Alex (George Sanders), on a trip across the Italian countryside to close on an inherited villa in Naples. Far from their London home, the couple becomes frustrated with each other and seem to be headed for divorce. Katherine tells Alex about a lost lover who risked his life to see her, but it only leaves Alex even more indifferent to her. Planning to spend the rest of their vacation away from each other, Alex joins up with some other British guys on Capri to drink and flirt, while Katherine tours the natural attractions and museums of Naples and Pompeii. Viaggio in Italia was unsuccessful when it originally released to theatres; years later it was discovered by French critics and called a masterpiece in Cahiers du Cinema.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Journey to Italy on Blu-ray from Criterion has the benefit of not sharing the disc with another version of the film and hence the transfer is more robust with a very high bitrate - on the dual-layered disc. Being the youngest of the three films it looks the best by a wide margin and comparison to BFI's 2003 chroma-heavy SD version are below. As you can see it is a huge advancement with vastly superior contrast, more information in the frame and impressive detail. Excellent and fairly consistent throughout with no noise and frequently awe-inspiring visuals.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

We repeat the linear PCM but sounding as clear as the image. It is authentically flat with clear, consistent, dialogue. Like all three features there are optional English subtitles.

 

Extras :

Firstly we get the audio commentary for Journey to Italy featuring scholar Laura Mulvey (as found on the BFI SD from 2003). We get another introduction from Rossellini (2:10), and another informative Adriano AprÓ interview (11:40.) We also get a new 1/2 hour's worth of interviews with Isabella Rossellini and Ingrid Rossellini, the twin daughters of Roberto Rossellini and Bergman - conducted by Criterion in March 2013. Martin Scorsese talks to Kent Jones for over 10-minutes on the director and specifically Journey to Italy. A real treat are the two new visual essays about Rossellini by scholars Tag Gallagher (Living and Departed - 22:37 ) and James Quandt (Surprised by Death - 38:56). There is so much information packed in here and expertly exported with scenes from the film. Rossellini fans will get their money's worth alone on these visual essays. Lastly on this 3rd Blu-ray disc is 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.

 

On the 4th Blu-ray disc, considered 'Journey to Italy - disc 2', are further extras including the important, hour long, 1992, documentary Rossellini Through His Own Eyes, on the filmmaker’s approach to cinema, featuring archival interviews with Rossellini and actor Ingrid Bergman. Directed by Adriano AprÓ the film examines Rossellini's ever-evolving approach to filmmaking and features archival interviews with the director, actors Ingrid Bergman and Anna Magnani, and others. Ingrid Bergman Remembered is an excellent 1996 documentary on the actor’s life, narrated by her daughter, from her first marriage, Pia Lindstrom. It is an intimate portrait and features archival footage as well as interviews with Lindsrtom and Bergman and Rossellini's daughter Isabella. We get a new (March 2013) 15-minute interview with Fiorella Mariani, Rossellini’s niece, featuring home movies shot by Bergman. She discusses the special, lifelong relationship she developed with Ingrid Bergman. Isabella Rossellini plays every role in My Dad Is 100 Years Old, a 2005 short film, directed by Guy Maddin. It is a tribute to her father with the roles played as her own mother, Federico Fellini and the critics who loved and hated Roberto. Included is The Chicken, a 1952 short film by Roberto Rossellini, starring Ingrid Bergman. The package also contains a large liner notes 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 Franšois Truffaut for Cahiers du cinÚma; and excerpts from a 1965 interview with Rossellini conducted by AprÓ and Maurizio Ponzi for Filmcriticah.

 

 

Journey To Italy - Blu-ray Disc 2

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I don't think this is pre-mature ranking this the Blu-ray package of the entire year. Criterion's 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini is an essential containing three important films by the director with alternate versions and an abundance of supplements. I want to start from the beginning again and re-watch the films and indulge in the extras. This is a very special set. This Criterion Blu-ray has our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

September 10th, 2013

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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