3 things about Roberto Rossellini’s JOURNEY TO ITALY

Journey to Italy [1954]

1. She remarks that they’re never alone. Yet when he suggests they have a drink in their room, she insists on going to the hotel bar instead. Sure enough, as they enter the bar they encounter an acquaintance with a group of her friends, and immediately agree to join them for dinner.
2. “Where shall we go?”
“Nowhere. I’ll take you for a drive and then drop you wherever you like.”
3. He agrees to say it. Before he does, he smiles.

When I first watched this movie, I was in my early 20’s and didn’t understand a thing about it. I had no idea what it was like to be with someone for eight years. Now I do. And, in the movie, it’s all there. The hesitation in your tone of voice, the small talk which you use to avoid discussing anything important, the deep and abiding affection, the familiarity with each other’s habits, the politeness which can take the place of passion. It’s all there. Rossellini’s genius is the sidelong yet utterly frank way he examines such a relationship. The metaphors and parallels are there, but somehow he preserves a certain opacity. Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders are both key.

For what it’s worth, I prefer one of the movie’s alternate titles: Voyage in Italy.

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