Practising the world's oldest profession in the archaeological walk of Rome's Parco di Porta Capena, the trusting and stubbornly optimistic streetwalker, Cabiria, refuses to lose faith in love. After escaping death by the skin of her teeth, hurt, and momentarily disenchanted Cabiria continues to confront life with a mixture of naivety and arrogance, and one evening, she ventures into the elegant Via Veneto and gets picked up by the suave movie star, Alberto Lazzari. Now, once more, disappointment awaits, and as poor Cabiria preys to Virgin Mary for guidance and a blessing, the man of her prayers, Oscar D'Onofrio, barges into her life after a chance encounter at a vaudeville theatre. But do miracles happen?Written by
Nights of Cabiria has been available until recently only in poor quality videos. The Rialto Pictures version (the one released in theaters in 1998), including the additional "Man with the Sack" sequence, beautifully restored picture and sound, and a brand new translation, is available only from The Criterion Collection (DVD) and Homevision Cinema (DVD). Update 2019: The film has been restored in 4K from the interpositive and is now available for the first time on home video in a Blu Ray version that is comparable to a good 35mm print. See more »
I am not much in favor of "best" lists--I wouldn't make it in Cusack's "High Fidelity" world--but I can usually offer a range of titles of films that I consider the most powerful experiences I have had in front of a screen--Bicycle Thief, Ran, Ordet, Seventh Seal, Citizen Kane, L'Avventura, Rear Window, Blade Runner, quite a few others. But if I had to pick just one title, it would be Nights of Cabiria. I saw it when it first came out in this country--I was a junior in high school and fortunate enough to live near a theater that showed foreign films. It ran for several weeks and I kept going back to see it over and over, giving myself permission by dragging friends to see it. No one was ever disappointed, though only a couple of friends developed a comparable enthusiasm with mine. I have continued to see
it every chance I get, though I have not had the opportunity to see the latest reissue--I probably will have to see it on
video or dvd, since the city I now live in rarely shows any foreign films. Giulietta Massina gives not just the greatest
performance of her career, but surely one of the greatest
performances ever recorded on film, and the sequence of Cabiria's experiences, at first seemingly random and insignificant, adds up to one of the most profound statements Fellini ever made about human life.
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