Friday, August 28, 2015


Sometimes the reality subtext behind a work of fiction can show up within said fiction. Take for instance Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli. His first collaboration with actress (and future wife) Ingrid Bergman, it's a film about a woman in an unfamiliar land trying to stay intact mentally. If you're familiar with the behind the scenes scandal of the film, one can't help but wonder if reality began to imitate art.

What was the scandal? Rossellini and Bergman, both married to other people, began an affair during production which resulted in Bergman getting pregnant. The world was shocked at Bergman's actions, which ended up tarnishing her career for most of the 1950s. (It was restored after she won an Oscar for Anastasia.) Because of the scandal Stromboli was ignored by audiences but decades later, it received the praise that the scandal clouded over.

As you watch Bergman throughout Stromboli, you wonder whether the effects of the scandal began to affect her. Shortly after her character Karin arrives on the titular island, she complains to her husband that he's not able to support the lifestyle she's used to. Seeing as how Bergman was a prominent name in Hollywood at the time, it's likely it wasn't too much of a stretch for her to feel the same during both the production and her self-imposed exile.

Rossellini, one of the Italian neo-realists of the era, more than likely also channeled the scandal into Stromboli. As the film wears on, Karin is viewed by the other villagers of the island as a shameless flirt. (Her husband gets called a cuckold at one point.) It's also worth noting that while Bergman's career floundered as a result of the affair, Rossellini's started to take off. (A textbook example of double standard, don't you agree?)

Stromboli shows that there's more to the film than the behind the scenes scandal. It's a film that was, to paraphrase the closing line of Bergman's most famous film, the beginning of a beautiful collaboration. And it all started with a letter Bergman wrote...

My Rating: *****

[for The Wonderful World of Cinema]


  1. Great review! :) Thanks for taking part of the blogathon! I hope you'll take a look at my review of Stromboli I wrote not a long time ago for the Beach Party blogathon.

  2. Of course I also invite you to read my article for the blogathon, a tribute to Ingrid Bergman in honour of her 100th :)

  3. Ingrid Bergman was never more beautiful than she was in this film, in my opinion. Stromboli really is a compelling film.


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