MadZack’s review published on Letterboxd:
Do you know that feeling that you get when you discover a filmmaker that changes the way you think about life? I'm experiencing that right now.
Journey To Italy is a remarkable work of art. It is a seamless travelogue of powerful film grammar.
Journey To Italy is a noerealist exercise in deconstruction. It is about the emotional abstraction of human love, of crowded cities, and of pragmatism. It is about a fossilized existence. It's about petrified love. It's about the remnants of the past and the ongoing relic of the present. It's about living unhappily and unloved. It's an experiment in candor. It is all-encompassing art.
Rossellini's film is immediately visually arresting. His camera is constantly capturing beauty and truth. There are several amazing sequences that take place inside museums and ancient sites throughout Italy that I held my breath through. Rossellini gives us a tour of a past that is very much dead in a suspended animation caused by our emotional interactions with it. What is most certainly still life is given a temporarily renewed existence through Rossellini's lens. The marble statues of antiquity gleam with life and ooze pathos. Rossellini is the master of capturing physical poetry. What I have seen through Rossellini's eyes has changed me. It's a world that I am familiar with. It is filled with faces that I can recognize that are ruled by the same emotions I am. It is a world that has somehow drawn me inside of it. It's a beautifully photographed world and its shadows are real. It seems to be absolutely comprehensive in its understanding of the physical dimensions of poetry and reality. It's a world that I know well, as seen in an expertly realized and remarkably beautiful way.
Journey To Italy is a film about the beautiful and sad nature of love and about Italy's ethereal understanding of human frailty. Roberto Rossellini capably leads his wife, Ingrid Bergman, through this surprisingly considerate story of divorce. Bergman's performance is smart, lightly subdued to mirror Rossellini's inspired style, and she can express trillions of emotions all in a single movement. Bergman was refined, her performance was exceptional, and her physical appearance lent itself incomparably to Rossellini's perfected neorealism. Bergman appeared as a knowing angel of immaculate art and human sensitivity. Because of her, Journey To Italy doesn't just linger, it passionately transcends.
It has conquered me. Your humble reviewer has been beaten. Rossellini's films are so perfect in my eyes that whatever I have to say about them is doomed to lack clarity. Journey To Italy is art at its most humanly absorbing. It is the most perfect kind of art, masterfully rendered and brilliantly photographed. I am beyond impressed by Rossellini's skill, I am simply beyond words. It has been ages since I have been possessed by a film. Rossellini's magic is a potent genius. His films not only give life to the seemingly lifeless, they have breathed new life into my love of the art-form. Just when I thought I had mastered film history and theory, I finally decided to watch a film by Rossellini. To me, his films are more than art. They project everything there is to know about human life. It is an all-encompassing brilliance.
Rossellini saved me. I owe him one.