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Nights of Cabiria

2 Ratings: 5.0
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Director: Federico Fellini
Genre: Drama
Release Date: January 1, 1957
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Nights of Cabiria

Poetry in Motion--Without Fosse

  • Jun 10, 2009
  • by
It was lovely rolling over this morning because as I like to say, I woke up.  Consider the other option.

I reached for my remote to turn on the tv, realized it was not 7am, my usual waking hour, and wanted to curl over and go back to sleep. But curiosity got the better of me and I stayed awake.  I surfed for something other than an infomercial and I found it. It was either the 1950s version of Show Boat (which I really HATE) or Nights of Cabiria (which I promised I would watch again if it came to me).

So I did. Sundance Channel gave me the perfect good morning kiss showing Fellini this morning!

"Cabiria", as many people know, was the inspiration for Fosse's well received Broadway musical "Sweet Charity".  And, not that I spend time spitting on musicals, but this film is much stronger than the show it inspired. It truly is.

The main point of consideration is Giuletta Masina. She is a poignant, comic delight as the feisty yet vulnerable Cabiria, a girl of the streets.  The second is Fellini's view of an Italy that trying to mend itself after the Second World War while trying to keep up with the rest of the world as it was changing. Cabiria's want for something more is paralleled by the bustle of Rome in recovery.

And although Fosse, along with his writers and Gwen Verdon, had songs and great dances to portray Charity's world, her successes and joys, they never got to her vulnerability like Fellini got to Cabiria's. The last scene in which Cabiria runs from the police in the rain shows a woman afraid but angry at this situation and wanting to change it.

Fosse did try to go back to the source when he turned 'Charity' in to a film with a mixed success.  It's ironic that a man known for creating some of the stunning dances for theater was momentarily stymied with an art form that moves.  Fellini crams his frames with quite a few bodies and much emotion and never loses his control over the material.  There are so many stunning scenes like the pilgramage to the church, the tattered side show in which Cabiria is mesmerized in to revealing her former 18-year old self and the final image, in which poor Cabiria has been cheated of happiness once again.  Young men and women dance and sing around her and wish her a good evening.  It is too bittersweet.  And it says, to me, while there may not be love for an individual, there is a community for an indivdual.  And that is so life affirming!

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