Stromboli between nature and neorealism
In some movies, the location is as central as the plot: in Stromboli, Land of God, a movie by Roberto Rossellini in 1950, the burning heat, the volcano and the small town are key elements of the story.
In this case, Rossellini’s neorealism has contributed, thanks to the choice of the location, to change the fate of Stromboli. Since the film the island, at the time of filming almost uninhabited, has experienced a progressive comeback until today it is a popular destination for an elite tourism that loves nature and tranquillity.
While In the film Stromboli is an inhospitable place, the blinding light that reflects on the bare and white walls contrasts with the black sand and the smoking mountain. The heat seems to make even more unbearable the isolation and abandonment of a world that reflects the emotions of a lonely woman, willing to do anything to escape.
It was not the plot or the location that brought the initial international fame to this beautiful film, (though not in the US) but the love story between the director and the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman.
It seems in fact that the film was written thinking of Anna Magnani, but the director then preferred the actress Ingrid Bergman after she sent him a letter offering to work with him. During the filming the two fell in love, both married at the time. The love story was a great scandal in the United States where the actress was not favoured.
The same event, however, brought popularity also to the neighbouring island. Anna Magnani, offended by the abandonment of Rossellini, at the time her lover, convinced the director William Dieterle to shoot, in the same period, the film Vulcano in the homonymous island.
Stromboli and Vulcano are just an example in the varied and variable events of film locations in Italy but tell many stories in one: how a location can be decisive in the plot of a film; how two apparently similar locations can generate completely different results and of course how much to invest in a territory by offering it to the cameras, can then result in a rediscovery and rebirth of the place itself.