Have I mentioned that Italian neorealism isn’t my thing? Because Italian neorealism really isn’t my thing. So when a film comes along from what many consider to be the godfather of Italian neorealism, I can hardly get myself to sit up straight, let alone feel aquiver with excitement. Nevertheless, I have an obligation to the List, and nowhere does it feel more like an obligation than with neorealist films. Still, I guess I should be thankful that I’m essentially only exposing myself to the best of them; I dread the thought of putting myself through a “bad” neorealist film. What I’m saying is, as much as I detest this type of film, I suppose I could do a lot worse than Roberto Rossellini, especially when he has Ingrid Bergman as his star, as he did in Europa ’51, as well as here, Viaggio in Italia, sometimes translated as Journey to Italy. This was considered by French filmmakers at the time to be the first truly modern film, and it is in several ways, though the definition of modern has shifted as time has passed; for the time, though, this was slightly ahead of its time.
There never seems to be a real story in neorealist films; it’s more about the experience of living as the various characters the films embody, rather than a “beginning, middle, end” storyline. The focal point this time is on the marriage and relationship between a married couple as they, well, journey through Italy. The ups, the downs, the trials, the tribulations; we follow them through it all, and maybe perhaps learn a little about our own relationships with our loved ones in return. Maybe. It seems Rossellini has evolved a little over time as a filmmaker; this is much more akin to Europa ’51 than it is to Open City, and I at least was able to get through Europa ’51 without trying to tear my hair out, and this was a similar experience for me. Like most neorealist films, there is extremely little to this one, and only slightly more than that to talk about, and aside from the decent performances by Bergman and George Sanders, I’ve pretty much already covered all there is; what’s left is up to personal interpretation.
I believe there are multiple versions of this film floating around; Wikipedia has the language listed as English, whereas the version I saw had Italian overdubbed over what I believe is the English dialogue of the actors, a la Fitzcarraldo, so I can’t attest to which is the better viewing experience (though the disconnect between the words and the actors’ lips is never not disconcerting). Still, though I did find my attention span wandering off a few times during this one, it wasn’t the unpleasant experience I’ve come to expect from Italian neorealism. That’s not to say that it will be the same for you; I can very easily imagine most moviegoers being bored stiff watching this, and I probably would’ve counted myself among them before I started on this little odyssey, so for that I should be a little thankful that I’m able to better appreciate a film like Voyage in Italy. Maybe not so much as like it, per se, but appreciate it nonetheless.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10