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  • Roberto Rosselini left Magnani for Ingrid Bergman in the late forties:with his new partner,they made "Stromboli" -which was to be followed by greater things such as "Europa 51" .So "Vulcano" :it's no coincidence that this movie was made scarcely a breath after Rosselini's work.It was a duel of titanic actresses,hiding behind vulcanos.They were so talented actresses that they tied.

    "Vulcano" is ,like many a Magnani movie like "mamma Romma" a one-woman show:she's probably the most gifted thespian Italy has ever known,and any part she played is worth watching.Besides,the director ,William Dieterle is very competent,being able to tackle classic lit "the hunchback of Notre -Dame,his masterpiece and the best adaptation of this Hugo warhorse,historical biography ("Juarez")and even western (the first scenes of "duel in the sun are reportedly his)- and here to merge into Italian neorealism!The screenplay is pure melodrama ,the story of a hooker who tries to redeem herself by keeping her younger sister out of the wrong track.Two strong scenes :the first when the holier-than-thou old women stop Maddalena (Mary Magdelene?) from coming into the church ,and she replies that God is everywhere;the second on the boat when Maddalena stops operating the pump and holds the bell into her hands.

    That said "Stromboli" is much less melodramatic,and closer to neorealism.Both movies feature the expected eruption ,of course!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Fans of classic Italian cinema have waited a long time for this one to appear on DVD and their patience was finally rewarded on 16 June 2010 with a two disc Collectors Edition from Gie SPHE-TF1 (that's a merger -- or "groupement d'intérêt économique" -- of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and TF1-Vidéo). Unfortunately, they don't seem to have pressed many discs and by 22 August 2010 the item was already being listed as "retiré." Neither company is saying when, if ever, they will be making any more copies, but one hopes that the movie will be more widely available soon.

    The famous story of the making of Vulcano is almost as dramatic as the film itself. Roberto Rossellini planned to star his mistress Anna Magnani in a film set on Stromboli, but suddenly she was dumped in favour of new girlfriend Ingrid Bergman. Magnani moved to a rival production being shot simultaneously on a neighbouring island. When the films came out Stromboli was received quite well by the press, but Vulcano was massacred in nearly every review. During its Rome premiere on 2 February 1950 there were a series of organized interruptions which spoiled the evening, although it is unclear whether the mayhem was caused by the rival film crew or the local custodians of decency.

    Looking at the film today, however, it actually comes across as a quite fascinating piece of Italian melodrama with Anna Magnani at her melodramatic best as Maddalena, the Naples prostitute forced by the authorities to return to her home island of Vulcano. Her younger sister Maria (a terrific performance from American actress Geraldine Brooks) is pleased to see her, but the other local women are not. In one harrowing scene Maddalena's dog is killed by the women who deliberately bury it in the sand. Magnani's anguished reaction to this horror is everything one would expect from her seasoned repertoire. Some reviews were highly critical of Rossano Brazzi's performance as the local vice racketeer Donato, but the main problem seems to have been Brazzi's shortcomings as a voice actor. The whole film was post-dubbed (Brooks had to speak in English during the shooting) and Brazzi's synchronization of his own lines was miles out. Apart from that he made an impressively odious two-faced villain. Another criticism was the insertion of Aeolian documentary clips which were already too familiar, although one would have expected cinema-goers in 1950 to mainly remember feature films rather than travelogues. Contrary to reports, the editing of these clips was fairly skillful by the standards at that time.

    The worst comments from the press concerned the preposterous climax. Even though Donato knows that Maddalena hates him for defiling her sister, he still lets her operate the air pump while he goes for a walk on the sea bed. Not surprisingly she shuts off the pump, but incredible as this scenario certainly is, it does provide Magnani with arguably the most memorable scene of her career. Donato pulls at the emergency cord which rings a bell on the deck of the boat. Maddalena in a frenzy throws herself on the bell and throttles it until, like Donato, it is silent and dead. Stricken with remorse, Maddalena then ends it all by walking into an erupting volcano. Preposterous yes, dramatic certainly!

    As so often in Italian films from this period, the "jewel in the crown" is the powerful, brooding score by Enzo Masetti. A gifted composer for both features and documentaries, Masetti is honoured by the producers of Vulcano with a whole sequence in which he has the soundtrack to himself. We see the choking pumice-stone mines, the tunny fishing and the local island customs, but there is no dialogue, commentary or effects, just haunting music. What more could any composer, or any film music fan, ask? Great score, great film.
  • It is such a pleasure to watch Anna Magnani in whatever she has been in. She completely becomes a character. You know you are looking at a genuine person in her performances.

    Looking at her, somehow I know I have known someone like her or maybe a composite of many personnas that form her wholeness in my mind's eye. She achieves such a connection with her roles. She buries herself in them. They are real, they have so many dimensions, she uncovers so many layers to what she does. At once, you connect with her and want to know more about her character.

    This movie shows Anna's evocative face, her steady but suffered eyes, her expressions in one of her most interesting and lusty portrayals. But this is not a lust of abandon but of richest characterization and filled with nuances and her own gifted brand of virtuoso impulsiveness.

    The story is simple but yet not well known. It is a pleasure to see the black and white rustic scenes and peaceful faces of the residents found on this island off the Italian coast the way they were 50 years ago. Are we this innocent anymore?

    There is nothing spectacular here except Anna herself. Rosanno Brazzi and Geraldine Brooks offer a perfect contrast to Anna's joie de vivre. If you have a chance to see it. Sit back and take in a true original at work at the highest pitch of her craft.

    Oh, Anna. I miss you.
  • Why isn't this movie better known? The principal actors and actresses are superbly believable; the intertwining of fact and fiction, place and personality, the era and its mōres are woven together as the finest cloth. It is one of those astonishing black and white films that feels like it is in color -- the dark and varied shades of emotions that run through the characters like fire and water, salt and hot seasoning. Plus it is deeply and deliciously melodramatic -- in the finest sense of this word: people drawn as figures who are good or bad & not without the possibility of rich, grey shading; sharp characterization deepened from two-dimensional cameo to three- dimensional sculpture; dialogue with strong emotional appeal and a plot driven by the determinism of forces larger than mere humanity. One major appeal of "Vulcano" is its Queequeg-like primitivism, the sense of "what must be" in a nature-driven world. It is classically Mediterranean. A wonderful film to learn from, too see and see again. Where can one find its likes now? In our world of special effects and neon-bright, digital-driven images we have lost sight of this natural depth. "Vulcano" sees how far down and into the human experience superb, naturalistic acting, story telling, directing, photography and cinema overall could once go with great grace and truth-telling pleasure.
  • I saw the movie with its original soundtrack: English. This choice was a great mistake.

    The stars that I have awarded to the movie are mainly due to the performance of Anna Magnani.

    It was surreal and at times disturbing to see the movie hearing all characters speaking in a perfect English: because of the language everything looked like a tale without a precise geographic location. This element detracts a lot of charm to Anna Magnani's performance and to the atmosphere in general.

    For instance, Maria was the most surreal character of the tale: a young, fresh and beautiful young girl that with her perfect English seemed closer to the Princess Sissy on holiday than a girl grown up on that island. This added to the story a certain aura of tale, but, in my view, absolutely avoidable and not credible.

    For non Italian native speaker, this movie can still have a certain effect, but for an Italian it can be a severe disappointment.
  • I viewed this film for the first time at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. It was explosive! The intrigue, the jealousy, the betrayal, the hate, the love, the MURDER!! It was all there on one tiny island. I cried, I laughed, I cheered, I gasped! It was like an opera, but without the annoying singing. Anna Magnianni didn't have to say a word. Her face said it all. What an amazing actress. It made me realize what a great loss her death has been.

    A gentleman, who had worked on the film, and spoke before the viewing, said that Anna had worked on the film while she was getting over a broken heart caused by the loss of her real life love, Roberto Rossilini, to Ingrid Bergman. I loved this film ! God bless the Tribeca Film Festival!
  • There are two versions of this incredibly stunning and moving movie: the Italian one and the American one, with two different plots and endings.

    We've been waiting the American version for years. Is it going to be realised in some way, maybe an Amazon DVD like you did for Wild is the Wind? Thanks for any consideration. There are two versions of this incredibly stunning and moving film: the Italian one and the American one, with two different plots and endings.

    We've been waiting for years the American version . Is it going to be released somehow, maybe an Amazon DVD like you did for Wild is the Wind? Thanks for any consideration.