Count of Melissa: “How do you say “dolce far niente” in English?”

Count of Trebisonda: “I think you could translate it as

how sweet it is to do nothing.”

Roberto Rossellini

A Journey to Italy, 1954, Ingrid Bergman as Katherine Joyce, George Sanders as Alex Joyce, directed by Roberto Rossellini, BFI’s 50 Greatest Films.

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A rare brief moment of calm as the estranged couple symbolically lounge near the Italian city of Naples in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. (Bergman and Sanders)

“Your ridiculous romanticism. This country… poisons you with laziness.”

— George Sanders as Alex Joyce

 

Even the monumental Farnese Hercules at the Museo Archeologic Nazionale in Naples finds it sweet “to do nothing”

“For me this film examines “Being” vs. “Doing”.

“For me this film examines “Being” vs. “Doing”.  The productive efficient northern European personified in Alex (George Sanders) and the romantic and art-seeking wife Katherine (Ingrid Bergman).

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Visiting Naples to sell a recently deceased relative’s villa Alex and Katherine discover they no longer know each other.

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This mostly forgotten film (until its recent Criterion release) now finds itself on the BFI 50 Greatest Films list.  This film addresses topics you simply did not do in 1954. And in so doing it foretells in both substance and style the French new wave cinema in all its gritty and poetic reality.”

— Douglas

 

Martin Scorcese, director

“The most modern film… It was a change in the execution of art…the perception of it.

It’s the most modern film…Journey to Italy. It began modern cinema in a way. And it isn’t just a change in style. It was a change in the execution of art…the perception of it. A perception of the world, I should say, through art. Raising cinema to another level. It seems to be observant of the very texture and roughness of every day existence. But in each case it leads to a place that’s extraordinary stumbled into by the characters.

One accepts this kind of film now but it wasn’t the case before this picture.”

 

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