Casanova is Federico Fellini’s demolition of a myth, mounted with studied virtuosity into a rambling but bigger than life spectacle divested, by design, of reality and emotion in portraying the legendary Venetian lover as a pathetic victim of his own vanity and virility. Tracing a continuous flux of decline from practically the opening sequence, Fellini relentlessly runs his hero into the ground for 166 minutes.
Shorn of dramatic intensity, detached from the reality of Europe’s tremors in the 18th century, Casanova depends on the grandscale mechanics of burlesque and circus to reduce the stature of a legend. The pic entered production in July, 1975, was interrupted for three months in a dispute between producer and director, and finally completed in mid-April, 1976. Budget is variously estimated between $8-10 million.
Donald Sutherland, forced to carry the film, gives the gallant Venetian a measure of dignity and momentarily succeeds in overcoming the mechanics of Fellini’s direction. With nothing but a flimsy commentary as support, Sutherland is on screen almost from start to finish as he travels from Venice to Paris, London, Germany, Rome, and Austria hoping to find a niche in the Establishment – a hope triggered principally by the size of his member.
Tina Aumont excels as an urchin of mystery, Enrichetta; Cicely Browne, as a withered blueblood ready to pay for Casanova; and Adele Angela Lojodice, who is remarkable as the lifesized mechanical doll and Casanova’s mate in the court of Wurtenberg.