Toth Database - Cinema



Performers and characters




Year: 1950

Duration: 107 min

Color: B/N 

Genre: Dramatic

Directed by Roberto Rossellini

Producer: Roberto Rossellini

Photograph: Otello Matelli

Editing by  Jolanda Benvenuti

Music: Renzo Rossellini





Karin is a Lithuanian refugee interned in a gathering camp for foreigners during World War II. The uncertain future offers her two possibilities: emigrate to Argentina or stay in Italy and obtain citizenship by marrying Antonio, a prisoner of war freed in the camp. Cons vehemently denied a pass to Sudam erica, he joins in marriage to the man and follows him to his land, the island of Stromboli. Karin, however, is unable to adapt to the life of her husband, who is a fisherman on the island, and begins to suffer above all the enormous cultural differences with the locals, crude and retrograde. The life of the woman, who has become a prisoner, becomes even harsher because of the traditionalist and jealous character of Antonio who, instigated by the voices of the people, reacts harshly and sometimes violently to karin's alleged "owls". Meanwhile, she discovers that she has become pregnant and is therefore convinced to leave the inhospitable island, where the last of the volcano's frequent eruptions has put her own life at risk in addition to that of the islanders. Leveraging charm, he gets the help of the lighthouse keeper, the only trusted person willing to help, tries to escape by attempting to cross the summit of the active volcano but his desperate escape seems impossible. After nightfall and lost, she is taken by despair and begins to invoke God.  At the first light of dawn, Karin again helps God, determined to save the son he carries in his lap.




The film was shot on the island of Stromboli in the Aeolian archipelago, and involved many of the island's true inhabitants. Mario Vitale himself was initially hired by the production as a labourer. During filming, an eruption of the volcano provided some insights for Rossellini, who filmed without a real script, staring day by day at ideas on a simple notebook. It was thus possible to shoot the scenes of an evacuation of the population that together with those of fishing constituted a kind of documentary in the film . The role of the protagonist was originally intended for Anna Magnani, with whom Rossellini was in a relationship. Selling herself to take the part from Ingrid Bergam, Magnani herself wanted to mount a production to shoot in Lipari the film Vulcano, directed by Willian Dieterle: the work, started later, paradoxically was completed before that of Stromboli and the film was able to take advantage of an unexpected advertisement.


For her performance, Bergam won the Nastro d'Argento. 


The actors were almost all non-professionals. The film was released in national cinemas on October 8, 1950.


In Italy the film had a decent following, if only because of the enormous curiosity aroused by the public about the sentimental bond between the director and the famous Swedish actress (who in the film stars with her own voice in Italian)


In the United States the film was a real fiasco, the film had the merit of awakening tourist interest in the Aeolian Islands, until then forgotten by everyone, isolated from essential communications and services. Even today there are plaques and photos on the island that recall the episodes of the making of the film, and in the main square of Stromboli the most famous bar is the Bar Ingrid.


The letter that Ingrid Bergam wrote to Roberto Rossellini


Rossellini made the film after receiving a letter in which Ingrid Bergam praised his work and confided to him that he wanted to make a film with which he:


"Dear Mr. Rossellini, I have seen your films Roma città aperta and Paisà and I have appreciated them very much. If you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, who has not forgotten her German,she is almost not understood in French, and in Italian she can only say I LOVE YOU, I am ready to come to Italy to work with her. »


Ingrid Bergam


Both were married, but during filming a relationship arose between them. They married after obtaining their divorce and had three children. ..