In July 1914 a luxury cruise ship leaves Italy with the ashes of the famous opera singer Tetua. The boat is filled with her friends, opera singers, actors and all kinds of exotic people. ... See full summary »
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
I am not much in favor of "best" lists--I wouldn't make it in Cusack's "High Fidelity" world--but I can usually offer a range of titles of films that I consider the most powerful experiences I have had in front of a screen--Bicycle Thief, Ran, Ordet, Seventh Seal, Citizen Kane, L'Avventura, Rear Window, Blade Runner, quite a few others. But if I had to pick just one title, it would be Nights of Cabiria. I saw it when it first came out in this country--I was a junior in high school and fortunate enough to live near a theater that showed foreign films. It ran for several weeks and I kept going back to see it over and over, giving myself permission by dragging friends to see it. No one was ever disappointed, though only a couple of friends developed a comparable enthusiasm with mine. I have continued to see
it every chance I get, though I have not had the opportunity to see the latest reissue--I probably will have to see it on
video or dvd, since the city I now live in rarely shows any foreign films. Giulietta Massina gives not just the greatest
performance of her career, but surely one of the greatest
performances ever recorded on film, and the sequence of Cabiria's experiences, at first seemingly random and insignificant, adds up to one of the most profound statements Fellini ever made about human life.
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