Journey to Italy ★★★★½

A gorgeous, magnificent piece of cinema which shows off 1950s Italy in the context of the fragile marriage of Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders - one of my favourites of his roles, and a fine one of many of hers.

In just eighty minutes we watch as this couple travel around (not 'to') Italy, where her memories of a lost love tap against the pain of her husband's thoughtless wandering eye. This would be a good companion piece to this year's '45 Years' which also deals with old memories and failing companionship.

Roberto Rossellini's film looks and sounds gorgeous, and presents a romantic, yet dangerous and unpredictable Italy in which Bergman's tourist amongst the ruins and hot springs keeps her emotions tightly coiled, and where Sanders, sarcastic and bored, seeks other females than his wife because he has never really been alone with her since the day they married, and they seem doomed as a unit.

The source for this film is 'Duo' by Colette, although uncredited, and with a country change from the original France. If you read Sanders' autobiography he tells of an unhappy and difficult production, but you would never see it as in this film the actor appears relaxed, believable, and far from the mannered snob he could be when he fell into stereotype. Perhaps Rossellini simply used his way of working to get the best out of his stars?

The procession at the end and the ending is justly feted, and extremely affecting. This film gets better with each viewing, and if it isn't quite perfection, it is very close to it.

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