Friday, July 8, 2016

Europa '51 (1952)

Today's film is Europa '51, which seems like a decent drama, but overall feels a little silly.  It takes place in post-war Italy, where if a wealthy woman decides to give up her lifestyle and help the poor, she must be crazy.  The idea is if you took a saint like character and put her into a modern world, what would happen to her?

Irene is the wife of an ambassador and used to living life in luxury.  She often throws dinner parties and entertains guests.  However, her son is needy and clingy and is desperate for her attention.  This would be more understandable if he was young, but he's twelve years old.  There's a time for being with kids and a time for being with adults.  Spend the afternoon with your son and then the evening with the adults.  I can fully understand not wanting to have him at the dinner party.  Last time I brought my daughter to a nice restaurant, she ran around like an animal and stole a lady's eyeglasses.

So, her son, very upset at being ignored for five whole minutes, jumps down the stairs in an effort to injure/kill himself.  He breaks a few bones and spends the night in the hospital, but he should be fine.  Irene is feeling quite guilty at his plight and vows to spend much more time with him.  However, he dies unexpectedly from a blood clot sustained from his injuries.  So, Irene falls into a deep depression and doesn't leave her room for a while.  When she does, she decides to help others in need.

Her help gradually increases from simply helping to pay for medication to helping the actual people in the neighborhood.  What would really help is if these people could find jobs with decent wages, the same problem we have here today.  A handsome male friend of hers, her husband's cousin Andrea pushes the idea of social radicalism to make a better society.  Of course they have to throw communism in there because it's a 50s movie.  Irene's husband is upset that she's not around and believes that she is cheating on him.   Here's a radical idea: Tell. your. husband. what. you. are. doing.

That would have solved everything.  Just tell him you're depressed and helping poor people makes you feel better.  Spending money on medicine and food for children instead of on dinner parties.  Eventually she gets thrown into the crazy house.  They don't understand that someone doesn't need to be a part of a religious or political group in order to help the underserved in their communities.  A group of people that she's helped rally outside her window, but she's trapped inside.

This movie was okay, but it just seemed like a mouthpiece for various political ideas.  The characters are too unrealistic and there is no actual reason for her to be committed.  The 50s justice system in movies never makes sense.  The film shows the contrast between the wealthy Italians and the poor of society without offering any true solution.  I will give it a 5/10.


  1. I think I liked this one a little better than you did but not by much. The story feels very forced and artificial and the political elements are problematic. A big blah.

    1. A big blah is a very good way to describe this film.