Monday 8 September 2014

Nights of Cabiria [1957]

Trilogy of Loneliness’, in which Fellini focused on protagonists belonging to the marginalized sections of the society and played by his wife Giulietta Masina with Chaplinesque flair that underscored the tragi-comic natures of their lives, and begun with the brilliant La Strada, ended with the poignant Nights of Cabiria. It also completed his transition from his neo-realist roots to his ‘Felliniesque’ phase heralded by his legendary next film La Dolce Vita. It begins with Cabiria (Masina), elucidation of the rather patronizing phrase ‘prostitute with a heart of gold’, being left to drown by her male companion who she is besotted with as he takes off with her purse. Despite the heartbreak, she continues in her quest to live her life to the fullest despite its grim and dreary nature. When she makes a chance acquaintance of a movie star (Amedeo Nazzari), she is delighted even though she ends up spending the night in his bathroom; she hopes for divine grace at a carnivalesque Catholic procession in a small village; she is moved by the philanthropy of a weary man even though he’s visibly pessimistic about the conditions of the impoverished living like rats in dug-outs; and she continues to be optimistic when a man (François Périer), seemingly drawn to her following her humiliation at her display of romantic craving upon being hypnotized, asks her to marry him and she happily takes off with him despite her empathetic room-mate’s (Franca Marzi) misgivings. The inevitability of heartbreaks, desperation and loneliness, and the cyclical nature of life, formed the key themes in this bittersweet tale, made all the more memorable by Masina’s deeply affecting and exuberant performance.

Director: Federico Fellini
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama
Language: Italian
Country: Italy

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