7.6/10
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27 user 29 critic

And the Ship Sails On (1983)

E la nave va (original title)
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.

Director:

Federico Fellini

Writers:

Federico Fellini (story), Tonino Guerra (story) | 2 more credits »
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11 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Freddie Jones ... Orlando
Barbara Jefford ... Ildebranda Cuffari
Victor Poletti Victor Poletti ... Aureliano Fuciletto
Peter Cellier ... Sir Reginald J. Dongby
Elisa Mainardi ... Teresa Valegnani
Norma West ... Lady Violet Dongby Albertini
Paolo Paoloni ... Il Maestro Albertini
Sarah-Jane Varley Sarah-Jane Varley ... Dorotea
Fiorenzo Serra Fiorenzo Serra ... Il Granduca
Pina Bausch ... La Principessa Lherimia
Pasquale Zito Pasquale Zito ... Il Conte di Bassano
Linda Polan Linda Polan ... Ines Ruffo Saltini
Philip Locke ... Il Primo Ministro
Jonathan Cecil ... Ricotin
Maurice Barrier ... Ziloev
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Storyline

In July 1914 a luxury cruise ship leaves Italy with the ashes of the famous opera singer Edmea 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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the 35th international Cannes Film Festival, the film didn't have a poster ready, so Fellini, on the spot, Drew a poster for the film and sent it to Cannes See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Orlando: They tell me: "Do the news, tell what happens!"
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

Clair de Lune
Composed by Claude Debussy
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User Reviews

 
Left me gasping for air...
7 September 2001 | by zetesSee all my reviews

Conventional knowledge has it that the only film of Fellini's worth a damn after 8½ is Amarcord. Earlier this afternoon, I would have gladly agreed, but tonight I have discovered that this is a fallacy. I present to you And the Ship Sails On..., a film that is not only to be ranked alongside Fellini's permanent, almost unquestionable masterpieces, La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita, 8½, and Amarcord, but one to be ranked among the best works in cinema. Perhaps this is the most underrated film ever made by a true master, the man who literally was the first filmmaker to be called "auteur" by Andre Bazin in an article about Nights of Cabiria.

I would describe this film as a close relative of Amarcord's. The style of characterization is identical - instead of of a close character study, the sort of characterization most film lovers tend to like, the characters in these two films are drawn more broadly, with more attention paid to unique physical features and behavioral quirks. This is all in an attempt to have the audience identify the characters - or, more precisely, caricatures (before he made movies, Fellini worked as a caricaturist on the streets of Rome) - in a stereotypical way. Take Titta's parents from Amarcord - they're whom we might draw if we were asked to draw bickering parents. Take the Duke from And the Ship Sails On - could you imagine a teenage, Teutonic duke any other way than Fellini presents him? You could also take it the other way - when you see this odd fellow on screen, do you have any doubt that he is Germanic royalty? The visual style is also similar to Amarcord's - that one was painted with cartoonish colors. And the Ship Sails On is also very colorful, but the palette is more specified here - a beautiful canvas of blue-grays and whites.

The narrative styles of the two films differ quite a bit, but still are similar. Amarcord taps the vein of nostalgia - perhaps the most untapped of human emotions - for its affect. And the Ship Sails On seems to be going for absurdist, surreal satire. It's a genre that is more or less dead in the world of cinema, which is why, I assume, this film was such a bomb in 1984 and is relatively unknown today. Why satirize the aristocracy of the WWI era anyhow? That's a good question, but one that is not difficult to answer. I don't believe that Fellini meant the film as any kind of biting satire. It's all done in fun, although the juxtaposition of the rich with the Serbian refugees, whom the ship's crew finds afloat on sinking rafts one night, does ring with a certain painful and ironic truth about how the rich see the poor. Still, even though we might scoff at the way the aristocrats try to trace the roots of Serbian dances back to ancient times, the scene immediately following it, where those aristocrats go down on the deck to dance with the Serbians, is very entertaining and beautiful. The music in that scene, in fact, the music throughout the entire film, made me want to clap and dance. The actors move rhythmically as they progress through the film. I also have to add that Fellini never made a funnier film, at least of the ones I've seen, which are a majority of them (Toby Dammit of the omnibus film Spirits of the Dead comes very close).

Most of this film's greatness lies in individual scenes, and thus, as you might guess, the sum is not exactly equal to the parts - at least as far as I saw, there's no real point - the substance is thin. But when style is this beautiful, I say screw substance. Each individual scene ranks among the best ever put to film - the wine glass concert, the scene where sunlight brightens one half of the ship and moonlight the other, the boiler room scene where the great opera singers compete vocally in order to impress the sailors below, the interview with the duke, and the opera singer's funeral. Each scene is so exquisitely created by Fellini and every other artist involved that it is entirely forgiveable if the audience remembers those individual images rather than an overall effect. For me, the combination did have an overall effect: I was so awestruck that I was weeping, though there was nothing onscreen to weep at. 10/10.


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Details

Country:

Italy | France

Language:

Italian | German | Serbian | Russian

Release Date:

7 October 1983 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

And the Ship Sails On See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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