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Marcello is in the compartment of an Italian train, facing forward when the mineral water of the woman seated across from him starts to fall toward him. He catches the bottle and makes eye contact and follows her when she leaves the compartment. For a few moments she finds him attractive too. Then suddenly she gets off the train and starts walking through a field. Marcello follows her, loses her, finds himself in a large hotel surrounded by women. A feminist conference is taking place and he tries to escape. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Fellini never made too many films that had absurdly intense sexual themes and dialogue. He made two, and along with `Casanova,' `The City of Women' revolves almost entirely around sex. What `City of Women' has that `Casanova' did not, however, is a beautiful child-like view of things that really makes Fellini's movies fun in the first place. It also has Marcello Mastroianni (one of my favorite actors) and gorgeous surreal cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. `City of Women' begins, appropriately enough, with a train going into a tunnel. Marcello Mastroianni is Snaporez, an again man on a train. He begins to flirt with the woman who is sitting across from him and follows her into the bathroom. As he reveals his lustful feelings, the train suddenly stops and she gets out. He runs after her and ends up at a hotel that appears to be hosting a feminist convention, a REALLY exaggerated and completely insane feminist convention. He soon discovers the entire land he is in is populated with women. Snaporaz is both frightened and in awe of the variety of women that surround him, and they represent virtually all viewpoints of feminist issues - from angry man-haters to whores to crazy teenage girls to dancers to roller skaters to older, more motherly women. Throughout the film the women are clearly in total control, and I interpret this film as a womanizer's nightmare, which makes perfect sense.
The film is perfect by no means, but it's still a bit of a treasure if you're a Fellini fan who has explored most of his body of work, and yet are still starved for some Felliniesque fun. This film has that, and a lot of it. The greatest scene in the film is toward the end, where Snaporez crawls under a bed and comes out inside a bright beautiful carnival. He slides down a stylized rollercoaster and mentally goes through some of his life's most memorable sexual situations. This was a marvelous scene, with a beautiful carnival set, and above all, brilliantly scored by Luis Bacalov.
Overall, I have no idea who will like this film. Even Fellini fans seem to dislike it, or even hate it. I found it to be a lot of fun, and visually marvelous.
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