An almost accidental romance is kindled between a German woman in her mid-sixties and a Moroccan migrant worker around twenty-five years younger. They abruptly decide to marry, appalling everyone around them.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
El Hedi ben Salem,
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Cabiria is a wide-eyed waif, a streetwalker living in a poor section of Rome where she owns her little house, has a bank account, and dreams of a miracle. We follow her nights (and days): a boyfriend steals 40,000 lire from her and nearly drowns her, a movie star on the Via Veneto takes her home with him, at a local shrine she seeks the Madonna's intercession, then she meets an accountant who's seen her, hypnotized on a vaudeville stage, acting out her heart's longings. He courts her. Is it fate that led to their meeting? Is this finally a man who appreciates her for who she is? Written by
"Dum Spiro Spero" - While there's life there's hope.
I would not argue that there could be better films made before and after Cabiria. Perhaps. But there never will be another "Nights of Cabiria" - the last Fellini's film with the linear structure, his third and the most successful collaboration with his actress wife, Giulietta Masina, his immortal love letter to her. Of all his characters, Fellini once said, Cabiria was the only one he was still worried about. Of all the characters, I've seen in the films, Cabiria is the one I often think about - what ever happened to her? Did she survive? Was she able to find love?
I've never seen the face so alive, changing its expression every moment. If the face is the soul's mirror, Cabiria's (Masina's) face reflects her every single emotion and how effortlessly she goes from bitter cynicism to wistful yearning, from despair to hope, from tears to smile. While there's life there's hope. As long as Cabiria smiles in the end of this tragicomic masterpiece, there is hope for all of us.
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