Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Movie Soup for the Soul: Europa ‘51 (1952)

Having a fascination with Francis of Assisi, Roberto Rossellini decided to create a film that placed a person of Francis of Assisi's character in post-war Italy and showed what the consequences would be.


europa51PosterRoberto Rossellini wrote and directed Europa’ 51 and uses his camera to show us the state of the human condition.

In the movie, Ingrid Bergman plays Irene Girard, a wealthy woman who throws lavish get-togethers.  At the beginning of the movie, we meet her son, a depressed, moping boy.  In this day and age, we would call him an “emo”.  The boy continues to ponder the meaning of life after the war and Irene cannot comprehend his morbidity.  She grows frustrated with his dour mood and leaves him in his room as she goes to host yet another party.  During the course of the night, her son kills himself. (Wow, that kid is such an attention whore.)

After the death of his son,Irene is plagued with grief. A friend suggests that she uses her time for charity. Irene does this and she comes face to face with the harsh life of the poor.

This is no Hollywood movie, Ladies and Gentlemen.  This is a Rossellini film.  The heroine does not discover the brutal reality out there by undergoing a series of pratfalls and misadventures. No.  She sees how hard life can be by experiencing it and we, the audience goes along for the ride.

Pretty soon, Irene gets into trouble with her husband (The guy is jealous and suspicious, irked by the fact that his wife now would rather devote her time to charity than spend her time with him.) Anyways, in the third act, she is sent to a mental institution because…why would a beautiful, wealthy woman spend her time helping out the poor?

So basically, it is safe to associate Irene with a saint.  Yet the fact that she is beautiful and wealthy, society labels her as a loony.

Here are a few deeds that helped sentence Irene into the asylum:
-donating money to a boy who needs medical help
-helps a woman with six children find a job
-takes care of a woman who I think is a whore, before that woman dies from coughing up her lung
-she makes a hoodlum thief boy, to turn himself in

In the asylum, I can’t help but share her frustration in explaining herself (she shouldn’t have to). I cant help but think that she now has stepped into the same mind set as her son.

Anyways, they make fun of her for thinking that she is a saint—no, they make her believe that she thinks she is a saint.

I believe that Rossellini and Bergman's treatment of sainthood in the twentieth century is quite accurate.  Folks, don’t ponder your spiritual existence.  You’ll only be sent to a mental asylum.

What if a saint actually resides in a mental asylum? We’ll never know because I don’t think we care.

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