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I was 15 years old when I stumbled into a cinema and caught my first
film -- Juliet of the Spirits. I was so jazzed, wowed and bedazzled by
I'm sure I went back a few more times. It led me to other Fellini films
and, since, he's become my favorite film director.
Though at age 15, I shouldn't have been able to relate very well with this story of an Italian middle-aged woman and her crumbling psyche (what with her failing marriage, her unsympathetic relatives and her repressive childhood), the movie made me care about this woman and showed me sights on film that I'd never seen before.
Masina (Fellini's wife), in her performance, has nearly everything to do with making Juliet's story meaningful, even to a teenaged boy in California. The character's thoughts flash, unspoken, across her face. Her fear, her
bemusement, her insecurities--all are writ in italics and I had no trouble empathizing with Juliet.
Fellini, though, makes the film an occasion to witness how far the medium can go in bringing alive a person's inner life. The weird and awful power of (subjective) memory, the dream state, the spectres of loneliness, betrayal and Catholic mythology: all these and more overtake the screen, dominate the imagery and play the antagonists to Juliet who, as seen by the other "real" characters in the story, is just a simple, loving housewife and neighbor. Juliet finally has to face her demons and either vanquish them or go mad. By the end of the film, we know most of her demons, where they came from, whom they represent and what they mean. What an accomplishment!
In a clinical setting, Fellini dropped LSD around the time he concocted this film. That may be one reason the movie is so psychedelic. This also was his first feature in color. The music is unforgettable. Costumes should have won the Oscar, but that honor went to "Man for all Seasons".
Incidentally, I've bought and viewed the DVD of this movie. It's quite washed-out and not as good as an available VHS letterboxed version.
I'll always miss Fellini, but am so grateful that he was able to make this film and over a dozen others.
This film by Fellini is basically the female version of 8 1/2. Instead
of delving into the mind of a middle-aged Italian man dealing with
problems with his wife and trying to figure out who he really is, it is
about a middle-aged Italian woman dealing with problems with her
cheating husband and trying to figure out who she really is. (I still
can't decide who I like more as a lead in a Fellini film... Masina or
Mastroianni.) The film is very enjoyable, and is definitely one of the
films I would classify as a work of art. The one thing that really
stands out to me, however, is this: It could only exist as a film. Most
films are adapted from previously written novels, or at the very least
can suffer the indignation of a "novelization" without losing the
quality of the story. But I cannot fathom any way a writer could
capture this film with words. It is very visual, but could not be
painted or drawn either. I think this is one of the few films I've seen
that is completely unique to the medium of film. Towards the end of the
film, there is a scene where she is trying to avoid voices and images
around her while hosting a party. It was at this point that I realized
how perfectly every shot was set-up, and that there would be no way
anyone could capture the feeling or the images with words.
I would be extremely fascinated to see what the shooting script to this film looked like. It's the fifth Fellini film I've seen, and I must say, I think I can call him my favorite director. He's the only director whom I've been enthralled by every single film I've seen of his. He has a perfect record, 1.000% batting average so far with me. I'm going to keep seeing more, and hopefully I won't ever be disappointed.
Fellini casts his real-life wife, Guilietta Masina, as Guilietta - an
middle class housewife
whose life is coming apart. The film's plot serves a vehicle for some of
psychedelic scenes ever put on film, all before anyone used computer
graphics to make
more fantastic. Fellini uses costumes, makeup and, most of all casting of
and extras, to achieve his surrealism.
His first film is color, this is Fellini's most Felliniesque movie.
Juliet of the Spirits has become one of my favorite Fellini films. The story involves a woman who discovers that her husband is cheating on her. The forces of family, tradition, the church, and an immoral society all pull at her and force her to make a difficult decision. These forces would be banal in a standard film but Fellini chooses to visualize them as images and dreams. The dream sequences are nearly perfect and create a sharp sense of the hazy logic and unreality of dreams. Other comments (as well as our friend Maltin) have noted that the symbolic nature of the film is a detriment. This is true only if you are constrained by reality and demand that film adhere to the rules you have set down (or more likely had set down for you). Taking the journey with this film is well worth the time and effort. I hesitate to state that a male director has successfully penetrated the inner desires of a woman, but in this case I think Fellini has at least come close to the mark. A film to be looked at, talked about, and enjoyed again and again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can never get too tired of seeing Fellini. Over and over again. When I bought this film I was very anxious about it, but I had sub-estimated the film in my imagination. When I actually saw it, I was awed, amazed, in love. Giulietta Masina is a genius, a real actress. Even though this time she doesn't act in her brilliant clownesc style, she is as convincing and loving as she always is. The colours are brilliant, even more so for a film done in 1965 (and much better than the colours used in later works such as Casanova). The film is full of hidden hints so the attentive eye can understand the story more in depth. Fellini is a master on putting things in a very metaphorical way, and here he achieves to better himself even more. The clothing is fantastic and ageless. The flowers flowing from all the other female character's clothes contrast with the linear and simple ones from Giulietta, showing how introspective she is in her life, specially in her sexual one. The film is very Fellini, but very feminine in the other side, something rare until then. Even though women played a central part in most of his films, they were always seen through other men's eyes. This time the whole world is seen through Giulietta and her feminine repressions, caused by the typical Fellini factors - education, the church, family and of course Italy. Fellini might be good for those who love cinema, but for those who love it and understand what being an Italian conveys, it is a wonderful delight. Nothing better than a Fellinesc big southern woman, or an outrageously funny Ruma'...
One of Fellini's most accessible films (his use of color really helps),
he once again plays reality against an active fantasy life... fantasies
that combine memory, fears, fleeting desires and the way we imagine the
lives of others. For me, one of the things that makes a film 10 star is
that it provides something that only film can provide, and this is it;
while the presentation is very theatrical, this quick intercutting of
time/memory/mood can only be done in film.
While the overall message is a very conservative (pre/anti-feminist) one of it's day, Fellini DOES liberate a woman's fantasy life, and this is the essence of his leading "little woman." The predominant action of the film is in her imagination.
This was the day when middle/upper class Italian women did not work, and Masina represents the "good little woman." Rich enough to have servants, there was little to occupy her time or mind, other than similar friends who have veered to the outre and weird just to have something to do. Masina's character searches more internally, and her fantasies color her vision of the lives of others. (Note that her usual circle of friends are equated with a fantasy of death, and you'll be clued into her psyche as these begin.)
I think you have to have lived a bit to "get" Fillini - I didn't like his work when I was younger - I love this. Also note his use of color as "percieved color" not literal color and this is worth many viewings.
And finally, if you are a larger woman... nothing makes you feel so great about being a large woman as watching Fellini's glorious Amazons!
No spoilers here, just a simple feeling that I have every time I see a FELINNI movie: "There are movies and there is Fellini" This is an art film, as most of Fellini's movies, so I wont try to explain or comment anything on it, everybody has to have his own vision about the movie. Don't try to explain everything, don't try to see flaws in the screenplay, just take it the way it is: a beautiful fantasy. YES, it is very pretentious, if you don't like it or if you don't understand it that means this movies want not meant for you, but for the rest of us! The Criterion version of this movie is pure perfection, even though the 1 channel sound is not enough to get the full experience of this masterpiece. You'll love it or you'll hate it, there is nothing between!
A reincarnation of the Buddha is said to have described himself as being, "like the moon upon the water...a reflection. Think of me as your self." He said. Many ancient sages have spoke and been written of seeing The One, the holy God of eternity while looking, gazing, or meditating into a river or pond. For just as God separated the light from the darkness. Fellini too has created his own deep symbolic reflections of the Unfathomable One. Some say that this film, 'Giullietta degli spiriti' is the feminine partner of Federico's previous film 8 1/2. 'An Ode To No One', and 'An Ode To One'. Like two mirrors, the two films reflect the Eternal Lovers in Their breaking, and in Their embrace. Fellini's dialogue and metaphors show a great understanding of The Self, The Divine Marriage, The Sacred Mystery. Fellini is one of the few modern artists who greatly understood the purpose and very nature of art itself. All art imitates life, sure, but human life also is merely an interpretation of that which is truly real. It is obvious by Fellini's work that he himself created his art in order to become more real, to become closer to truth. He created in order to see with more depth and to share this with others. Fellini undoubtedly understood the logic in the seemingly illogical words of the great William Blake when he said "If the doors of perception were truly cleansed, everything would appear as it truly is - infinite.". Fellini understood that all art imitates life, but even more so, he understood that all art imitates the Divine. He also understood that only through this kind of introspection can one become closer and closer to our own True Infinite Nature. People who do not follow spiritual disciplines, or who do not know the work of Carl Jung, or who do not have a good understanding of ancient sacred scripture, will likely miss much of the depth in this film. However that is not to say that those people still won't enjoy it. This is the work of a Divinely inspired genius. Some watch this film and are dazzled by the great colour and flamboyant spectacle of it (And why wouldn't you be?), however truly it is the interweaving of dialogue and relationships that speak even louder than the amazing visuals. "For those who have ears, let them hear!"
Really sort of the female counter part to 8 1/2, It had the same sort of dream/memory/fantasy narrative, and the same sprawling dialogue and humor, the biggest difference was this was about relationships and sexual repression and freedom, had a female lead and was in technicolor, which Fellini really makes great use of, it adds a kelidoscopic psychedelic feel to the whole movie. There really are some amazing visuals and all the dialoge is superb. Though I guess its not so much a female 8 1/2 as it is a caricature of a marriage during the sexual revolution , but it's still a funny and poignant one. Great performances and memory dialog; the sexual revolution as a circus.
This is the first Fellini movie I ever saw and I just recently viewed the 35mm restored re-release. How beautiful. Fellini captures such wonderful dream-like sequences in brilliant color. Phenomenal! Every scene had such a distinct personality and mood to it. His blend of high and low key lighting, especially in the exposition carries the storyline. Giulietta's associated score is disturbing yet intriguing. The wardrobe and makeup department must have had lots of fun on this film. If you have yet to see a Fellini movie, I suggest this one. A bit creepy, a bit weird, but nonetheless it has a purpose. A tight narrative.
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