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The Face of the Star in Neorealisms Urban Landscape
Ora Gelley

Although Europa 51 (1952) was the most commercially successful of the films Roberto Rossellini made with the Hollywood star, Ingrid Bergman, the reception by the Italian press was largely negative. Many critics focussed on what they saw to be the ‘unreal’ or abstract quality of the films portrayal of the postwar urban milieu and on the Bergman character‘s isolation from the social world. This article looks at how certain structures of seeing that are associated in the classical style with the woman as star or spectacle - e.g., the repetitious return to her fixed image, the resistance to pulling back from the figure of the woman in order to situate her within a determinate location and set of relationships between characters and objects - are no longer restricted to her image but in fact bleed into or “contaminate” the depiction of the world she inhabits. In other words, whereas the compulsive return to the fixed image of the woman tends to be contained or neutralised by the narrative economy and editing patterns (ordered by sexual difference) of the classical style, in Rossellini‘s work this ‘insistent’ even aberrant framing in relation to the woman becomes a part of the (female) characters and the cameras vision of the ‘pathology’ of the urban landscape in the aftermath of the war.

Film Studies