Monday, November 27, 2006

"Ciao, Giovanni"

In Desire (which Rossellini began filming in 1943 but which was finished by Marcello Pagliero in 1946). I don't know how much of Rossellini's work actually survives in the cut shown at MoMA, but it certainly feels like a Rossellini film to me, and a masterpiece, at that. Regardless of who helmed the scene, there's a quick moment where the protagonist Paola (Elli Parvo) is walked home by her gentle Roman beau Giovanni (Carlo Ninchi); she has told him earlier that she has to leave Rome to return to her family's place in the countryside. There's a medium shot of them walking side by side. Cut; they're at the door; Paola's back to us. She turns around and she has tears in her eyes. Absolutely nothing about the composition of the shot or the tonal thrust of the moment centers the tears. If you walked into the theater late and saw this scene immediately you would not even expect tears. But the sudden bursting-forth of this undercurrent, the presentation of a truth beyond appearance, is precisely what Rossellini could get at with incomparable skill.

There are a few shots that look as though they're in slight slow motion; they're incredible.

There is a constant presence of wind and breeze in the outdoor shots.

This film is too beautiful, its beauty is too powerful.

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