Filmmaker Martin Scorsese continues his highly personal survey of film history for a new generation with Il Mio Viaggio In Italia, a four-hour documentary that never fails to engross. Less an encyclopedic chronicle than a selective tour of Scorsese's favorite Italian movies and directors, the documentary offers novices an indispensable primer on a national cinema that has profoundly impacted the art. The personal nature of the project becomes clear early on in Scorsese's earnest affirmation of the power of movies "to interact with life and to fortify the soul." Highlighting the films of such titans as Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni (though Visconti's The Leopard is a curious omission), Scorsese occasionally slows down to highlight certain scenes and offer insights on mise-en-scene, cinematography, acting, among other noteworthy aspects of a movie. At times, the comments can be revelatory, giving the audience a glimpse of how Scorsese's own artistic vision was influenced by the films on view. For seasoned film buffs, Il Mio Viaggio In Italia may prove a nonessential, if still enjoyable, viewing experience. Aspiring filmmakers and rookie film buffs, however, would do well to seek out this film. Rich and rewarding, it's nothing less than a perceptive, even touching, expression of movie love from one of the best filmmakers the art has produced.
by Elbert Ventura review