L'Amore (film)

L'Amore (Love) is a 1948 Italian anthology film directed by Roberto Rossellini that stars Anna Magnani and Federico Fellini.[1] After an opening dedication to Magnani for her acting ability, it consists of two parts, one titled La voce umana (The Human Voice) and the other Il miracolo (The Miracle). The second part was banned in the United States, until it was cleared in 1952 by a Supreme Court decision upholding the right to free speech.

Film poster
Directed byRoberto Rossellini
Produced byRoberto Rossellini
Written byRoberto Rossellini
Federico Fellini
Jean Cocteau (play)
StarringAnna Magnani
Federico Fellini
Music byRenzo Rossellini
Distributed byJoseph Burstyn (US)
Release date
August 1948 (Venice Film Festival)
February 1950 (US)
Running time
70 minutes

The Human Voice

Adapted by Rossellini from a 1930 play The Human Voice (French title La Voix humaine) by Jean Cocteau, this features an unnamed woman (Magnani), alone in her apartment, who over the telephone is desperately trying to salvage her relationship with the man who has left her.

The Miracle

Co-written by Fellini and Rossellini, this is about Nanni (Magnani), a simple-minded and obsessively religious woman who tends goats on a mountainside near Amalfi. When a handsome bearded wanderer (Fellini) passes, she takes him to be Saint Joseph. Offering his flask of wine, he gets her drunk and she falls asleep. When she wakes up, he is gone and she is convinced that his appearance was a miracle. Some months later, when she faints in an orchard, the women who help her discover she is pregnant. She believes this is another miracle, but to the people she becomes a figure of ridicule until, fleeing their mockery, she lives rough. As her time approaches, carrying her few possessions and accompanied only by a friendly nanny goat, she wearily climbs to a mountain top where there is an isolated church. Inside, a newborn baby cries, and Nanni is seen opening her dress to feed her miraculous child.


The film was first exhibited in Europe in 1948, starting in Italy. Magnani was awarded the Nastro d'Argento (Silver Ribbon) in 1949 for best actress for her performance. Due to legal complications over the rights to Cocteau's play, the original version was not widely shown.[2]

The Ways of Love

In 1950 The Miracle was removed from L'amore and placed in a three-part anthology film called The Ways of Love with two other short films: Jean Renoir's A Day in the Country (1936) and Marcel Pagnol's Jofroi (1933).[1] After the U.S. distributor, Joseph Burstyn, exhibited it with English subtitles in New York in November 1950, it was voted the best foreign language film of 1950 by the New York Film Critics Circle. However, The Miracle part of the film was condemned by the National Legion of Decency as "anti-Catholic" and "sacrilegious" and in February 1951 the New York State Board of Regents, in charge of film censorship for the state, revoked the license to show the film.

This led to the lawsuit Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson, finally decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1952 who, in what is popularly known as "The Miracle Decision", declared that the film was a form of artistic expression protected by the freedom of speech guarantee in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[3]

See also


  1. "Amore (1948)". The New York Times.
  2. A restored print was shown at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco in 1978.
  3. Text of Joseph Burstyn, Inc v. Wilson , 343 U.S. 495 (1952) is available from:  Findlaw  BC 
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