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 was 15 years old when I stumbled into a cinema and caught my first Fellini film -- Juliet of the Spirits. I was so jazzed, wowed and bedazzled by it, 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.
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