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
Federico Fellini, the genius of the Italian cinema left his imprint in all the films he directed for all of us to enjoy forever. "Le Notti di Cabiria" stands as one of his best because of the character of that invincible woman at the center of the story: Cabiria! Having recently seen the excellent copy that was shown at NY's Film Forum, this is a film that like good wine gets better with age.
Fellini was the man whose idea was translated for the screen with his usual collaborators, Tulio Pinelli and Ennio Flaiano. Pier Paolo Passolini contributed to some of the dialog. Essentialy, this is a timeless tale of a woman that despite adversity, bad times, and all that is wrong around her, keeps her chin up and never begrudges a thing. In fact, Cabiria, despite of her profession, is a woman with a highly moral character.
The film takes us back to another, more innocent era. We are shown a prostitute with a heart of gold who is always cheated by most of the men who comes in contact with her. Cabiria is never resentful, or bitter at the hand life throws her way.
One of the best realized sequences of the film involves Cabiria being picked up by a handsome and popular actor, Alberto Lazzari. Alberto is about the only one in the movie that treats Cabiria with any semblance of warmth. Unfortunately, nothing happens between them because Alberto's lover, the gorgeous Jessy, arrives at Alberto's apartment to claim what's hers, leaving Cabiria shut up in a bathroom. If only her friends could see her then! Nobody would believe it!
There is not a moment out of place in the film. Of course, Fellini had the incomparable Giulietta Masina playing the leading role. Ms. Masina is just too wonderful for words. She makes us believe she is Cabiria, and that's that, which in itself it's something other actresses try harder, without the same results. Ms. Masina's face reveals all that is going on within Cabiria. Together with all her other creations in other Fellini's films, this is perhaps her own triumph as an actress.
Franca Marzi, who plays Cabiria's best friend, is also excellent. Amadeo Nazzari is perfect portraying the matinée idol, Alberto Lazzari. This was one of his best appearances in a distinguished career in the Italian cinema. The rest of the cast is wonderful.
Fellini's masterpiece is a film that satisfies any time one sees it thanks to his vision and the presence of Giulietta Masina.
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