Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Stromboli (1950)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Stromboli (1950, It./US) (aka Stromboli, Terra Di Dio)

In Roberto Rossellini's moving, neo-realistic drama - in which the original, ambiguous and provocative ending was changed by RKO studios (and producer Howard Hughes) with added voice-over narration:

  • the depiction of tough life in the primitive and remote fishing village of the island of Stromboli (off the coast of Sicily), for newly-married, Baltic-born, Lithuanian Karin Bjiorsen (Ingrid Bergman) and fisherman husband Antonio (Mario Vitale), a Sicilian POW, after she had escaped with him (by marriage) from an Italian refugee internment camp; however, she was immediately dissatisfied with her shunned, uncomfortable life in his barren village with a black scorched landscape, and complained to Antonio: "I want to leave this island and go away, far away! Like all the others who lived here and were born here and went away, far away!... I can't live like this in this filth! This is no life for civilized people"
  • the extended riveting fishing sequence of Stromboli's men hauling in a massive catch of giant tuna
  • the scene of Karin's desperation about her intolerable life, told to a Priest (Renzo Cesana): "I can't take a life like this. Antonio is still a boy. Yes, I love him, but he doesn't understand how a woman like me feels....Can't he realize that I can't live here, and that he should take me away?...You can imagine how I feel here, Father, a stranger. These black rocks, this desolation, that, that 'terror.' This island drives me mad, Father. Won't you help us, please?"
  • the pregnant Karin's escape to get out of Stromboli and seek individual freedom - by treacherously walking on foot across a nearby volcanic mountain to the other side of the island - the volcano was beginning to erupt with hellish smoke and foul air; she collapsed from exhaustion and despair, and lost consciousness
  • the concluding scene after Karin regained consciousness - and her dialogue with herself and pleas and cries of help toward God - the film's final lines: "No, I can't go back. I can't. They are horrible. It was all horrible. They don't know what they're doing. I'm even worse. I'll save him. Oh, my innocent child. God, my God, help me! Give me the strength, the understanding, and the courage. (weeping) God, God, God, oh my God, merciful God. God, God, God!"; the last shots of the film were of the cleared morning sky (the volcano had seemingly subsided), and the return of swooping seabirds flying in the air
  • the film's ambiguous ending: did she return to Stromboli? did she continue on? did she perish? [Note: In the revised version, the voice-over narration explained that she returned to rejoin her husband.]


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