Rome, 1957. A woman, Cabiria, is robbed and left to drown by her boyfriend, Giorgio. Rescued, she resumes her life and tries her best to find happiness in a cynical world. Even when she thinks her struggles are over and she has found happiness and contentment, things may not be what they seem. 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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