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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Both the English and Italian versions
  • Archival television introduction by director Roberto Rossellini
  • New interview with film critic Adriano Aprŗ
  • Rossellini Under the Volcano, a 1998 documentary that returns to the island of Stromboli fifty years after the making of Stromboli

Stromboli

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Roberto Rossellini
Starring: Ingrid Bergman
1950 | 106 Minutes | Licensor: Cinecitta

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $79.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #673
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: September 24, 2013
Review Date: October 15, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

In the late 1940s, the incandescent Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman found herself so moved 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 personal portraits that reveal the director at his most emotional and the glamorous actor at her most anguished, and that capture them and the world around them in transition.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

The first film in Criterionís box set release 3 Films by Roberto Rossellini Starring Ingrid Bergman, Stromboli is presented on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of about 1.37:1 in a new high-definition 1080p/24hz transfer.

Like the other films in the set limitations are with source materials and not with the digital transfers themselves. On this disc we get both the international English-language (not the heavily truncated American version) and Italian-language (Stromboli terra di Dio) versions of the film, with the Italian version actually running 7-minutes shorter. It looks as though itís likely the majority of both films come from the same source, a 2k restoration of the Italian version, with another source filling in the gaps/differences for the English version. These moments in the English version actually do present a noticeable deterioration in quality from frame to frame. Contrast goes a little out of whack, the image can become a teeny bit fuzzier, and damage gets a little heavier.

The remainder of the film and the entirety of the Italian version look better with some issues still remaining. Though the digital transfer is sharp as a whole, nicely renders the filmís grain structure, delivers excellent depth, and even suitable gray levels and rich blacks, the source still shows a heavy amount of wear. There are a number of noticeable scratches, some tram lines (a few heavy ones,) and obvious fading in areas of the screen, though it at least doesnít get absurdly heavy. It still looks as though a decent amount of work went into the restoration, and I prefer the image staying sharp with damage visible as opposed to a soft image created by the over processing that comes with cleaning up tiny scratches.

The two versions are ultimately limited by the source materials but they at least both get crisp and clean digital transfers that donít add on to existing problems.

7/10

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AUDIO

Both versions get uncompressed linear PCM 1.0 mono tracks. Both show their age and are limited by source materials and possibly filming equipment; they lack depth and fidelity, both coming off very flat in the end, and admittedly there were times during the English version where I needed the subtitles. There can be times of detachment simply because of dubbing and unfortunately neither version alleviates this dubbing issue since dubbing occurs in both versions, either through English over Italian, Italian over English, or dialogue changes for both. Itís simply going to come down to which version you choose to watch.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This single disc is of course part of a bigger 4-disc set that covers the Bergman/Rossellini collaboration of films as a whole, so there are more supplements past whatís available here. For this disc Criterion has grouped together the supplements more specific to Stromboli.

The big supplement is of course the fact we get two versions of Stromboli, an English-language version, running 107-minutes, and an Italian language version entitled Stromboli terra di Dio, running 100-minutes. Although it should be clear from the runtime the English-language version is not the heavily edited 81-minute American version and is instead Rosselliniís original version of the film, and apparently his preferred one. The Italian version included here was put together later by Rossellini and obviously alters some things since itís shorter, though I honestly had trouble picking many of the differences. One difference is the lack of a language barrier. In the English-language version Karin does not speak Italian fluently and this creates a few communication problems. This aspect has been excised from the Italian version since Karin now miraculously speaks Italian. The ending also differs a bit, giving it a more religious undertone. Both versions look to have been primarily sourced from the same 2k restoration so they look close in terms of quality, with the added scenes in the English version looking to degrade quite a bit. It will ultimately be up to the viewer which version they watch.

Next is an introduction by Roberto Rossellini, recorded for a French television broadcast of the film. Running only 2-minutes Rossellini talks about the plotline and gives a brief description of the main character and the filmís/characterís conflict.

Next is a 16-minute interview with film scholar Adriano AprŠ. Recorded in 2011 exclusively for Criterion (showing how long this set has been in development) AprŠ covers the filmís controversy in the press because of the relationship that developed between Bergman and Rossellini (and possibly also from the fact Rossellini was able to steal away one of Hollywoodís biggest stars,) the themes found within the film, the alternate ďvolcanoĒ film that was developed with Anna Magnani (aptly called Volcano,) and of course the filmís release.

Rossellini Under the Volcano is a 1998 45-minute documentary that revisits the island from the film, which has turned into a bit of a tourist spot. The documentary covers the islandís history to an extent and interviews surviving people who appeared in the film, including a man who played the young boy Bergmanís character comes across, and even Mario Vitale, the male lead (who actually didnít know he was going to be in the lead.) We also get a fair number of anecdotes, peopleís opinions about the whole Bergman/Rossellini controversy (they didnít really understand the big deal,) Bergmanís obvious difficulty with the nature of the production, and issues that occurred on set. Itís a rather wonderful inclusion, offering some context about the location and firsthand accounts of the production.

Though ultimately only a small sampling of the features that appear in the set as a whole, Stromboliís dedicated features are engaging and fairly satisfying.

7/10

CLOSING

The set as a whole is a great release with an incredible amount of love and care put it into it. Stromboli shows its age but the transfers for both versions of the film are strong and probably about as good as one could hope.


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