REVIEW: ‘The War of the Volcanoes’ (2012)

The War of the VolcanoesTitle: ‘The War of the Volcanoes’
2012, Italy
Director: Francesco Patierno

I don’t watch many documentaries. But every now and then something about a theme I’m particularly interested in will catch my attention. In this case, I couldn’t resist watching ‘The War of the Volcanoes’ because of my infinite admiration for Anna Magnani, a top contender in my personal list of the greatest actresses of all time.

Francesco Patierno’s documentary recounts the true story of love, passion and betrayal involving three cinema icons of the 50’s. Long story short, Italian director Roberto Rossellini left Magnani to form a new romantic and professional partnership with Swedish Hollywood star Ingrid Bergman (who, at the time, was married and mother to an 11-year-old daughter). The first movie Rossellini and Bergman filmed together was ‘Stromboli’, whose filming took place in Sicily. Not far from their set, Anna Magnani was starring in ‘Vulcano’. The romantic and artistic rivalry between the two divas captured the imagination of the international press and public alike, in what was named “the war of the volcanoes”.

I was sorely disappointed with this documentary. People who are not familiar with the three main figures involved in the events will probably feel disoriented and at a loss. I think the movie would have benefited from a higher attention to their backgrounds and character traits, especially considering the huge amount of time that’s wasted on extracts from Magnani and Bergman’s filmographies. The overall result feels generic and lacking in depth, as if ‘The War of the Volcanoes’ barely scraped the surface of the story.

★★☆☆☆

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