Love and Death: Rossellini’s Journey to Italy

Event Type

Film Screening

Presented in partnership with the Irish Film Institute.

Event Details

Irish Film Institute, Dublin

February 4, 2024 4:00 PM

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Love and Death: Rossellini’s Journey to Italy
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About the event

With its poetic meditation on ruins and ancient art, Roberto Rossellini’s mysterious Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia, 1953) brings past and present into collision, through haunting images from the archaeological excavations at Pompeii.

Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders star as an English married couple whose relationship is fraying at the edges as they travel around Naples. Famously, the two Hollywood actors were not shown a script in advance by the director, nor allowed to prepare their roles, with the resulting performances having a dazed, vulnerable quality.

On a visit to the ruins of the Roman town of Pompeii they watch as archaeologists remove layers of ash from the bodies of two joined lovers cast in plaster. Witnessing this scene affects them profoundly – even if the archaeologists may have taken artistic license to stage it especially for them. ‘Throughout the film, Rossellini reflects on death and the afterlife and on cinema itself as a machine for keeping the dead alive,’ writes film historian Laura Mulvey (BFI programme note).

‘Perhaps what most people love about ruins is the freedom to complete them in their minds; the opportunity to fill in the blanks according to their preference, their imagination. Pompeii is no different.’ Michiel Huijben in Pompei, Pompeii by Bianca Pedrina, Mark Pezinger Books, 2019.

Film director: Roberto Rossellini
Italy/France, 1953. Black and white. Subtitled. 80 minutes.


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Festival Partners

Literature IrelandInstituto Italiano di Cultura DublinoThe Classical Teachers Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of Northern IrelandAdvocating Classics EducationIrish Institute of Hellenic Studies at AthensMaynooth UniversityTrinity College DublinInstituto Italiano di Cultura Dublino

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