Journey To Italy - Romantics?

Quick Thoughts: Journey To Italy

A jaded, unloving couple holiday in southern Italy.

Image result for journey to italy poster

This is an ok film. It's not that great. But, it's got Bergman in, so, to me, there's going to be a baseline quality that's undeniable. Biases aside, the downfalls of this films are in its technical details, the sound design, acting and plotting. This film holds a rather juddered plot that is supposed to meander, that is supposed to be stagnant, just as the exchanges between characters are, however, this aspect is not handled well. Banality, inertia and roboticism are often features of films, and whilst these are boring elements and there is an artistic argument for there being a presence of these features (say to communicate a broken marriage) a writer's, director's or actor's job is to infuse their film with a quality tantamount to entertainment - in other words giving something back to the audience, giving them reason to watch your film. Some of the greatest films ever made hold this 'boring' and 'artistic' intent or quality. For instance...


Whilst these films feature characters lacking humanity, eccentric and confusing behaviours, or hold very subdued narratives, they compensate with magisterial imagery, incredibly poignant narrative messages or astounding character work. Journey To Italy has an interesting look at marriage and adults, however, the meandering plot largely consistent of going to museums or historical sites (some of which are well shot and very intriguing) as well as flat, rigid characters grates against this, atrophying the overall quality of the film leaving just about ok. Not much more.

Nonetheless, the interesting aspects of this film cite the childish spite or selfishness inherent in relationships. This spiteful selfishness, as articulated by the ending, is an expression of something I see all relationships to have in common. With the ending we see fear, doubt and regret as Katherine and Alex are pulled part by the surging crowd (having agreed to get a divorce). We see a culmination of doubt and fear over the narrative with Katherine's reflection on what she has, with Alex's slow realisation that he is feeding the vitriol between them. Moreover, with the two seeing a couple entombed by the pyroclastic ash and rock of a volcano erupted thousands of years ago, they hit a point of deeper introspection. And this is what the crowd forcing them apart strengthens. They see exterior forces with the capability of tearing them apart, whether it be age, disaster or the force of society, and they come to realise that they are alone in the world together, that they need each other. And it's having to hear each other say 'I love you' for them to actually love each other that is the cherry on the cake. Love is shown to be about fear, about a need for confirmation in your place in this world and with someone beside you. This translates love to be about the possession of perceived selves. We see others as intangible means of feeling better, feeling secure, feeling wanted in this world and we call it love, and we call those others 'ours'.

This objectification, this selfish use of others as chemical tools of soothing our existential plights is where romance comes from. And it's for this expressive honesty that I, in the end, do like this film quite a bit. There's reason to the rhymes and lyricisms of romance found in Journey To Italy, reason for transparency, reason for expression and communication - something in the end quite romantic. It's needing someone else to fill holes you can but feel, you can but poke and skim with anxieties and depressions, leaving you questioning but then kind of accepting ideas of romance as love.

Before you go, for more talks on themes and films like this, follow the link...


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