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Giulietta Degli Spiriti

Within a simple, naively romantic narrative frame concerning a wife's desperation over her husband's philanderings, director Federico Fellini has put together an imperial-sized fantasy of a physical opulence to make the old Vincente Minnelli Metro musicals look like army training films.

Within a simple, naively romantic narrative frame concerning a wife’s desperation over her husband’s philanderings, director Federico Fellini has put together an imperial-sized fantasy of a physical opulence to make the old Vincente Minnelli Metro musicals look like army training films.

In the freedom of its form and in its carnival of images, Juliet constantly recalls 8 1/2. However, the film adds up to something less than its individual parts. The physical spectacle, photographed in brilliant Technicolor, may be the film’s strength as well as its weakness.

In the title role, Giulietta Masina (Mrs Fellini) is at first humble and appealing as she slowly drifts into a dream world to escape the hard facts of a crumbling marriage. But as the Fellini fantasies grow increasingly more bizarre, there comes the realization that these are not so much the fantasies of an unhappy woman as they are those of an imaginative film director with a huge budget at his disposal.

It is a non-stop show dominated by the secondary performers, particularly a magnificent specimen by the name of Sandra Milo, a female Presence seen here in three roles. In the most spectacular, she is a next-door demi-mondaine presiding over a non-stop orgy which Giulietta visits and flees. She also turns up as a rather ominous apparition and as a busty circus lady with whom Juliet’s frisky old grandpa (Lou Gilbert) elopes in a flying machine. There are also Sylva Koscina, as Giulietta’s scatterbrained sister, and Valentina Cortese, a friend who introduces her to the spirit world.

As he has in the past, Fellini uses the rich, fulsome music of Nino Rota to counterpoint the screen images, usually to very good effect.

Giulietta Degli Spiriti

Italy

  • Production: Federiz. Director Federico Fellini; Producer Angelo Rizzoli; Screenplay Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi; Camera Gianni Di Venanzo; Editor Ruggero Mastroianni; Music Nino Rota; Art Director Piero Gherardi
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 148 MIN.
  • With: Giulietta Masina Mario Pisu Sandra Milo Valentina Cortese Sylva Koscina Caterina Boratto