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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a 2020 interview with the Times, veteran Italian film journalist Gloria Satta recalled watching filming: "There were 50 naked women here, but because Fellini used incense to get a hazy light it felt like being in church. [He] would be flanked on set by a Jesuit priest and his psychoanalyst". See more »
When Mastroianni is following Bernice Stegers in the woods in the beginning of the movie, reflection of the crew can be seen clearly in her sunglasses. See more »
"A house without a woman", they say in my parts, "is like the Sea without a Siren". Don't you agree with me?
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Dynamic Set Pieces, Wry Observation, and Marcello Mastrionni Make My Day
My adoration for this seemingly out-of-control fantasia of male fears of woman as individual or Love Goddess is somewhat unreasonable; I do not tire of watching City of Women and have subjected others to Fellini's episodic wandering, loaded as it is with spectacular imagery; remarkably, some of them remain my friends.
Early Fellini films such as La Strada and Nights of Cabiria are really fairly conventional films with unconventional characters, easy to follow and memorable for leading characters such as Gelsomina or Cabiria. In the early 1960's, Fellini experimented with drugs and underwent extensive psychoanalysis and the results of experimentation were reflected in his films, which became more personal visions and while delighting some viewers, frustrated others for their lack of linear narrative.
City of Women is one of those, jammed with bizarre imagery, full of often peculiar fantasies, as it follows the Fellini stand-in, Snaporaz, as he cuts a train journey short to follow a female conquest into a world that he has never considered, a world where women dominate, a world that addresses many male anxieties and fears, a dream world full of nightmares. I first saw this film in 1980, and thought it only fair; with the passage of time I think it has only become more relevant to male-female relationships, and the imagery, in contrast with most pallid films made today, visually electrifying. While realizing that others may react in critical horror, my vote for this Fellini is "Nine"!
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