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The first two days of a marriage. Ivan, a punctilious clerk brings his virginal bride to Rome for a honeymoon, an audience with the Pope, and to present her to his uncle. They arrive early in the morning, and he has time for a nap. She sneaks off to find the offices of a romance magazine she reads religiously: she wants to meet "The White Sheik," the hero of a soap-opera photo strip. Star-struck, she ends up 20 miles from Rome, alone on a boat with the sheik. A distraught Ivan covers for her, claiming she's ill. That night, each wanders the streets, she tempted by suicide, he by prostitutes. The next day, at 11, is their papal audience. Can things still right themselves? Written by
"Our real lives are in our dreams, but sometimes dreams are a fatal abyss."
That line above is one of the most beautiful lines I've ever heard in any film. This 1951 comedy feature is free of Fellini's quintessential surrealist vision but filled with the delights of idiosyncratic imagery, genius comical precision, and indisputable humanity.
The film opens in Rome, where a newlywed small-town couple is vacationing on their honeymoon. While in Rome, the (very) young bride takes advantage of being near the location where a new film is being shot that stars The White Sheik, a popular film/serial/newspaper icon whom she is secretly infatuated with. While her husband is sleeping, she sneaks off to find the Sheik and give him a drawing she has made of him. Brunella Bovo, who plays the bride, is new to me, but she was absolutely entrancing in her innocence. Trieste's comic expressions are absolutely arresting. Sordi is hilarious as the Sheik, who is about as unromantic a romantic figure as you can imagine.
Nino Rota's first score for Fellini is a lot of fun and exceptionally carnivalesque. You can tell by the marriage of music and image that Fellini and Rota had a real treasured creative hit-off with this film, and as most know, Rota scored every Fellini film after "White Sheik" until his death in 1979. This great score has never been released in it's entirety, but the main title theme has appeared on many Rota compilations.
An absolutely adorable little film, which seems to have been regrettably ignored by the majority. It's one I will watch many times.
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