Thursday, December 31, 2015

Europa '51 (1952)

Though he very openly denounced ostentatious style in the filmmaking of others, I'm pretty certain nobody could consider Roberto Rossellini's cinema to be lacking in style. It's a very subtle style, yet also extremely effective. Without the help of fancy camera moves he is able to place us in the shoes of his protagonist. We see Ingrid Bergman, we see what she sees, we see how she reacts to what she saw. Near the end of the film things switch and Bergman is now the thing being looked at. Doctors and police officers are trying to understand her. Yet we do not identify with her observers. We don't know these people. Those reaction shots have conditioned us to identify with Bergman. And so, in the end, they are not staring at her, they are staring at us. We are the ones being judged and it is not a comfortable feeling. Rossellini's style is cinematic sleight of hand of the highest order.

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