La nave bianca

La nave bianca (The White Ship, 1941)

Augusto Basso, a sailor on a battleship during WWII, is made fun of when he doesn’t have a picture of his madrina di guerra to contribute to the ship’s photo album. Finally he receives a letter from her telling him that she’ll meet him on the dock the following morning at seven a.m. to finally introduce herself and present him with a good luck picture. However, the ship is forced to leave the port earlier than scheduled and Augusto is forbidden to leave the ship; the couple never meet.

Moments later, the battleship comes into contact with enemy ships and there is an exchange of fire. All aspects of the ship’s weaponry is demonstrated in these battle scenes which consist of actual footage Rossellini shot during an actual naval battle. The battleship is hit, Augusto is injured and the good luck necklace sent to him by his madrina di guerra falls to the floor.

Realizing that the wounded sailors on board need immediate medical attention, the captain of the ship contacts a nearby hospital ship, the white ship, to pick up the wounded. Laying unconscious in bed, Augusto is cared for by a young volunteer nurse. A fellow sailor, also wounded in the battle, gives Augusto’s necklace to the young nurse for safekeeping until he wakes. In an ironic twist of faith, the nurse realizes that she had sent this exact necklace to a sailor. She is Augusto’s madrina di guerra.

Undecided about whether to tell him about the discovery or not, Augusto wakes and sees that she wears the other half of the necklace sent to him by his madrina di guerra. As soon as he understands the significance of this fact, he calls out her name. The happiness of their meeting is intensified by the return of the victorious battleship. All of the wounded sailors struggle to hobble to the deck to greet their triumphant comrades with awestruck silence.

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