And the Ship Sails On (1983)
"E la nave va" (original title)

PG  |   |  Drama, History, Music  |  7 October 1983 (Italy)
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Reviews: 26 user | 20 critic

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.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ildebranda Cuffari
Victor Poletti ...
Aureliano Fuciletto
Peter Cellier ...
Sir Reginald J. Dongby
Teresa Valegnani
Norma West ...
Lady Violet Dongby Albertini
Il Maestro Albertini
Sarah-Jane Varley ...
Fiorenzo Serra ...
Il Granduca
La Principessa Lherimia
Pasquale Zito ...
Il Conte di Bassano
Linda Polan ...
Ines Ruffo Saltini
Philip Locke ...
Il Primo Ministro
Jonathan Cecil ...
Maurice Barrier ...


In July 1914 a luxury cruise ship leaves Italy with the ashes of the famous opera singer Tetua. The boat is filled with her friends, opera singers, actors and all kinds of exotic people. Life is sweet the first days, but on the third day the captain has to save a a large number of Serbian refugees from the sea, refugees who has escaped the first tremors of WWI. Written by Mattias Thuresson

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Plot Keywords:

singer | opera | refugee | sea | ship | See All (17) »


Drama | History | Music


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Release Date:

7 October 1983 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

And the Ship Sails On  »

Company Credits

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Sound Mix:


| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to an excerpt from the book "I, Fellini", the renowned director was uncertain about casting Freddie Jones in the role of Orlando, mainly for the fact that he would be a British type within a Mediterranean setting. When he saw an ice-cream advertisement, carrying the brand name Orlando on the sign of a bus, Fellini took it as a favorable omen and Jones got the part. See more »


Orlando: Pum pum? The mountain's mouth? But it's a volcano's mouth. We're sitting on a volcano's mouth. Now I understood the metaphor! A tragedy.
See more »


Featured in Autumn of the Magician (2009) See more »


Gloria all'Egitto
from 'Aida'
Composed by Giuseppe Verdi
See more »

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User Reviews

Fellini magics strangeness into an overworked subject.
30 July 1999 | by (Dublin, Ireland) – See all my reviews

When younger, I was a Fellini obsessive - I adored the excess, the humour, the grotesquerie, the sympathetic comedie humaine, the audacious visuals, the beautiful, sad, lonely Marcello Mastroianni. For some reason I hadn't seen one of his pictures for a while, and while his astounding images remained inviolable in my mind's private cinema, the gradual, repeated decline of his critical status made me tread fearfully into this nautical drama.

It is clearly his worst film. It always threatens to break into a frenzied dance of the Id, like his best pictures, but never quite does. The acting is generally poor, the dubbing atrocious; the ideas seem to cancel each other out in an aimless mess. Fellini's style is more restrained than usual, with a greater, seemingly restricted, emphasis on content composition and montage. It is clearly the work of a jaded Maestro.

And yet it contains more life, wit and magic than most films this year, and, needless to say, it is less silly than Titanic. The story (a group of mourners carrying the body of a celebrated opera singer on a huge liner as World War I breaks out) is open to many allegorical interpretations (ship as nation, empire, class, art, life etc.), none of which quite fit. There is much play on images of moon (Claire de lune tinkles throughout), tides and sunsets - possibly as motifs of decline, but also of the ever-continuing circle that is its opposite, life?

The film's tone is ambivalent, nostalgic for an elegant age of art and beauty, yet coldly aware of its inhuman faults. This is epitomised by the trademark Fellini altar ego, a journalist/film narrator, who watches the mixture of tragedy and farce with an amused eye, yet desperately wants to belong, and share in its faded grandeur.

There are wonderful set-pieces, and graceful, Kubrickian camera movements. The narrative and characterisation is constantly splintered, mocking the desire of the passengers for order and rank. Imperial folly is angrily lampooned, culminating in a remarkable burlesque dogfight, stylised as a Verdi opera, yielding, in impotent terror, the Force of Destiny.

The classical music soundtrack initially seems bland and uninventive, but actually offers, once identified, a stunning, ironic commentary on the actions, pretensions, sadnesses and failures of the characters and the society they represent. The party scene with the Serbs is very moving - loaded with the mixture of anger and regret that constitute the film's heart.

The self-reflexivity does not patronise the audience for giving into illusion - the film's 'reality' is in question from the beginning. Film is shown not to be a modern weapon of the future (cinema as an art-form emerged at around the same time as the film was set), but merely a skip for the bricolage of Europe and the past. This pessimism, though, is not despairing

  • there is great beauty in loss.

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