Summertime (Lean, 1955)

David Lean’s sun-drenched Summertime paints a vastly different picture than Fellini’s Italy and leagues apart from Roeg’s nightmarish vision of Venice in his masterpiece Don’t Look Now. But this is Hollywood’s epic master craftsman, where first kisses are juxtaposed with perfectly timed fireworks and the night sky represents simplicity, romance, and heartache. But the playful glee fits nicely within Summertime and it’s whimsical outlook on love, because Lean and star Hepburn are out to create a moments of fleeting romance destined not to last. Lean uses on location cinematography nicely, especially in the opening montages of Venice’s waterways and architecture as images of misunderstood wonderment for Hepburn’s American traveller. But like it’s initial impressions on tourists completely missing out on the beauty of the locale, so do the supporting characters get lost in the shuffle, shifted to the background whenever necessary to the structure of the plot. In turn, Lean’s Italy feels like a Hollywood backlot even though it seeps with romantic indulgence of a foreign affair, leaving little to be explained or even pondered over. The mysteries of love matter little here, just the glory of experiencing it in the first place.

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