Amelia and Pippo are reunited after several decades to perform their old music-hall act (imitating Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) on a TV variety show. It's both a touchingly nostalgic ... See full summary »
In 1914, a luxury ship leaves Italy in order to scatter the ashes of a famous opera singer. A lovable bumbling journalist chronicles the voyage and meets the singer's many eccentric friends and admirers.
Juliet lives in a beautiful house by the ocean. Her sisters, and especially her Mother overshadow her with their beauty. She is a spiritual, superstitious and naive woman. She visits a psychic seer who tells her she must follow the sex trade in order to be happy. Not long after she meets her eccentric and sexy neighbour, Suzy, who, by all counts appears to be a high class prostitute and encourages Juilet into sexual acts which make her guilty and nervous. A rare night when her husband is at home she wakes up to catch him talking to another woman on the phone. He calls out the name "Gabriella" while sleeping, but when she questions him he lies his way out of it. She finds out who Gabriella is and fears her husband will leave her. Juliet begins having visions who accuse and terrorize her. The pinnacle of the visions comes at the end where it is implied she realizes she would be better off without her husband and is ultimately emotionally emancipated. Written by
I cannot wait to get my hands on my next adventure into the world of Fellini. I was more than impressed, I was captivated. I watched Giulietta degli spiriti (aka Juliet of the Spirits) and I couldn't help but think of other directors that have used Fellini's tactic in today's modern cinema. I think the reason I enjoyed this film so much is because I love the work of these directors, and I could see the homage they were paying in their films to Fellini. I am speaking of directors like David Lynch, Oliver Stone, and Akira Kurosawa. The colors, the images, and the overall elements of this film are original and provocative at the same time. You wouldn't expect this film a film created in 1965. I didn't when I put this film into the DVD player, but then I wasn't sure what to expect when I put Fellini into the player.
The colors are one of the boldest marks of the film. For this to be Fellini's first color film he pulls it off like a professional. The darkened shades to represent insecurity and the unknown, while the bold colors represent happiness and control. You wouldn't expect these emotions could be combined with ease, but Fellini's master brush never misses a beat. This film is told through its colors. From the opening scene where Juliet is choosing which color hair to wear, all the way to the ending where she leaves the bright white house into the darkened unknown, it is the vivacious colors that lead us from point A to point B. The characters are important, but these colors are used to represent the true emotions of the characters even when they are lying to themselves. These colors tell the truth and Fellini controls them.
I was always a believer that Oliver Stone's style of film-making was absurd and at times random, but little did I know that his odd placement of certain images is nothing more than a deep homage to Fellini. Since I have only seen one film, Giulietta degli spiriti, I can only take reference to it, but there were moments when I could have guessed Stone's hand was somewhere in the process. When Juliet sees the spirits, we are suddenly whisked away to a world of haunting images and imagination. We are afraid, yet excited at the same time. The scenes that come to mind are those when Juliet is at the beach and at the end when she finally confronts her demons. While some may see these as a director's "wet dream", I saw these as an insight into Juliet's character. We learn about her troubles, her life, her childhood, and her fears. It is these spirits that help us understand why Juliet is the way that she is, and why she has trouble leaving her cheating husband. They are a "guardian angel" for Juliet, ensuring that she stays true to whom she is even when times seem to be closing in on her. This is seen when she was about to do something sexually that she had not intention of doing. A moment of revenge saved by a spirit.
This was a magnificent story that could be retold today and appeal to mass audiences. Juliet is the common person, dealing with issues that face us today. The horror of discovering your husband is cheating on you and the spirits that you consult to help. Juliet is neither insane nor crazy, nor would I consider this a "tale of terror". This is a story about a normal person who is placed into extraordinary events that cause her to regress to her childhood. This also brings out the spirits from her childhood to help her in her bumpy path.
This is not to say that this film is without faults. While Fellini has obviously mastered the field of directing, showing us with bold colors and creative storytelling, there is something that could be said about his choice of music. I feel that the music used in this film conveyed a message opposite of what was to be felt. I felt that when we were to be shocked or surprised by Juliet, there should be equal music playing, but instead all I head was this happy go-lucky tune that seemed to trample the overall theme of the film. Perhaps Fellini used most of the money for the colors and story and only had one record left for the soundtrack of the film. Who knows? All I know is that the music used did not work in this film at all. If I could change one aspect of this film to bring it to perfection, it would be the score. What was Fellini thinking?
I would like to say that this first Fellini experience has been magical. I am glad I have the opportunity to share it with everyone, and if you take anything from this review it should be two things. First, don't insult a film until you have viewed it in its entirety, you never know what gems may just need to be polished to glimmer. The saying, "Never judge a book by its cover" applies to films as well. Second, go back to the basics. As I watch more and more older films, I begin to wonder the originality and uniqueness of the directors today. Some of the top performers in their game are beginning to show signs that they have "borrowed" from other directors. Perhaps they are paying homage, but perhaps there is more. Instead of walking out of a theater and saying, "WOW! I wonder why the director put that shot in there" (cause I know all of you think this), perhaps sit back and think about who they are saying "thank you" to. You may discover, as I have, that the original creative mind, no matter the date, can still be a powerful force in cinema.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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