Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Summertime (1955)

Renato de Rossi: You are like a hungry child who is given ravioli to eat. 'No' you say, 'I want beefsteak!' My dear girl, you are hungry. Eat the ravioli.

If Brief Encounter didn't exist then I'd have to call Summertime my favorite David Lean movie -- still I kind of hate that we immediately associate the name "David Lean" with the wide open vistas of epics and of expensive bridges being blown up when the man made two of the greatest romances ever filmed. Three if you count Doctor Zhivago, although that movie's always left me a little cold (and no that's not a pun on all its icicles). 

Anyway Summertime does have a human romance in it that's absolutely lovely, the one between Kate Hepburn's "Jane Hudson" (she's no Baby!) and Rossano Brazzi's "Renato," but the real romance of Summertime is of a person with a place, and as such what I really consider Summertime more than "the greatest romance" is "the greatest movie about travel." 

Venice is absolutely a character in the film, and the way Lean leans (heh) into the way a new place can seep into you and change you in deeply fundamental ways if you allow it to -- this movie thrills me and moves me and makes me want to immediately go somewhere new every time I watch it. It captures something truly ineffable about losing yourself in unfamiliar surroundings and surrendering yourself to that. 

There's this gorgeous scene early on where Hepburn has just arrived in Venice and the man carrying her luggage leads her through a huge loud courtyard onto its opposite side into one of those typical cramped Venetian alleyways and the sound, the sound, the sound! The sound of the children playing in the echo-y courtyard immediately cuts out and you suddenly hear the intimate sounds from the insides of all of the apartments just out of reach -- people talking, babies crying, silverware. The sequence goes on for maybe a full minute? And its absolute magic. 

Summertime is full of such moments. I have goosebumps writing about it right now -- having just re-watched it for what must be the tenth time now this past weekend thanks to Criterion, who have just today released a stunning new 4K blu-ray of the film, I'm still swooning on this movie's power. I'm drunk on it. Go get drunk yourselves!


DCameron said...

Such a magical film. And one of Heburn's greatest performances.

joel65913 said...

It is a beautiful film and Rossano Brazzi is so very hot in it! Kate is terrific but it's always the visual splendor of the film that immediately comes to mind when I think of it.

My feelings about Lean align with yours more or less, Brief Encounter is his top film for me as well followed by this then his very fun version of Blithe Spirit. I'm also glad to see I'm not alone in finding Dr. Zhivago somewhat aloof despite its visual beauty (including the cast). I wanted to love it so much for Julie Christie but I just could never embrace it.

Shawny said...

My favorite Lean is Passage to India. One of my favorite films.