Roberto Rossellini’s controversial two-part anthology film about blind devotion is a showcase for the manifold talents of his then-wife Anna Magnani. In the first part, A Human Voice - scripted by Jean Cocteau - Magnani gives a tour-de-force performance as a lover desperately trying to salvage her relationship over the telephone. The second, The Miracle, is written by Federico Fellini, who also stars as a mysterious ‘Saint’ who impregnates a naïve peasant woman (Magnani).
The film’s distribution history, particularly in the US, has been notably tortuous. Due to legal complications over the Cocteau section, the film was originally distributed in America containing just the Fellini story. But this caused a scandal when it was denounced by the church as sacrilegious, resulting in a First Amendment courtroom clash eventually won by the film’s distributors.