Jun 16, 2009

21st June 2009; Federico Fellinl's Nights Of Cabiria

Nights of Cabiria
A Film by Federico Fellini
Country : Italy
Italian with English subtitles
Runtime : 110 minutes
21st June 2009 ; 5.45 pm
Ashwin Hospital Auditorium
Call ; 97904 57568

There is more grace and courage in the famous image of Giulietta Masina smiling through her tears in Federico Fellini's 1957 "Nights of Cabiria. The star's prize-winning, heartbreaking performance, the story's allegorical resonance and Fellini's sweeping, soulful vision of a Roman prostitute's resilient humanity mark "Nights of Cabiria" as a cinematic masterpiece.

Cabiria's eyebrows are straight, black horizontal lines, sketched above her eyes like a cartoon character's. Her shrug, her walk, her way of making a face, all suggest a performance. Of course a prostitute is always acting in one way or another, but Cabiria seems to have a character in mind--perhaps Chaplin's Little Tramp, with a touch of Lucille Ball, who must have been on Italian TV in the 1950s. It's as if Cabiria thinks she can waltz untouched through the horrors of her world, if she shields herself with a comic persona.

Cabiria is a woman seeking redemption, a woman who works as a sinner but seeks inner spirituality. One night she happens into a performance by a hypnotist, is called onstage, and in the film's most extraordinary sequence is placed in a trance (half vaudeville, half enchanted fantasy) in which she reveals her trust and sweetness. She also informs the rude audience that she has a house and a bank account.

Noted director Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote the screenplay of the intriguing film. Years after it was made, one realizes that the film was not as simplistic as it appears. It offers considerable questions for the viewer beyond the obvious.

In "Nights of Cabiria," Fellini weighs the cost of both isolation and connection, but it's such a graceful picture that his technique comes off as anything but ponderous -- it's more like a graceful soft-shoe, a muted shuffle on a sandy floor. "Nights of Cabiria" is almost vaudevillian in its structure and sometimes in its tone. It's not that it's broad or obvious -- it's that Fellini lets the story of Cabiria unfold as a series of discrete but connected episodes.

The allure of Fellini remains his social commentary—-he underlines this with Cabiria, in the final shot looking at you the viewer, bringing up the nexus between the character and the viewer. In fact, this final shot ought to wake up the sensibilities of the laid-back cinema viewer.
(Source : Internet)

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini, a canonical name of personal expression and artistic fantasy in the cinema, had no formal technical training in his profession. Born in the seaside town of Rimini in Italy in 1920, he quit the provinces for Rome at age 18. Enrolled in law school, he abandoned the degree. He never considered attending Rome's Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, whose graduates he would later collaborate with. And unlike his contemporaries, he never frequented the cinema clubs that screened the best Italian directors' films and international titles from France, Germany and Russia. When pressed for his influences, Fellini preferred Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx brothers, Pietro Germi, and Buñuel (with his black humor) to "cine-club" names such as Dreyer, Griffith and Eisenstein. Young Fellini supported himself as a wandering caricaturist until hired by Marc'Aurelio in 1939. The famed humor bi-weekly served as an unofficial training ground for scriptwriters and directors of the postwar period.

Fellini's formative influences can be traced back to the popular Italian culture of the period, and not primarily the cinema. The cartoons, caricature sketches, and radio comedy that were his popular art métier brought him to the cinema as a gagman and scriptwriter. Novelist Italo Calvino diagnosed the influence of mass culture on Fellini's later sophisticated cinematic language as a "forcing of the photographic image in a direction that carries it from an image of caricature toward that of the visionary." Fellini trained for a professional life as a visionary with over ten years of scriptwriting and on-the-set apprenticeship.

For the postwar Left, a film's critical value was based on whether it depicted Italy's social problems and offered a Marxist remedy. Directors who followed their own imperatives were labeled conservative or reactionary. As a veteran of the scripting team responsible for two exemplars of Italian neorealism, Roma città aperta and Paisà (both Roberto Rossellini, 1945 and '46), Fellini was interested in moving toward a "cinema of Reconstruction." After Paisà, he redefined his artistic credo to "looking at reality with an honest eye - but any kind of reality; not just social reality, but also spiritual reality, metaphysical reality, anything man has inside him."

His career compresses the comparable progress in literature from 19th century realism to the reflexive post-modernity of compatriots Italo Calvino and Luigi Pirandello. Exposing the means of fiction, playwrighting, or filmmaking in Fellini's case (in contrast to the neorealist posture of delivering an unmediated story with newsreel aesthetics), all these authors uncover the "ploy" of authorship. It's as if Fellini critiqued realism as an impossible notion by pointing up its fabrication and adding the suppressed element of the fantastic. In his own words, "I make a film in the same manner in which I live a dream..
(Thanks to Senses Of Cinema )

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