"Wandering in the Dark"
What You Need To Know:
NIGHTS OF CABIRIA is a passionate insight into man's alienation from God. Religion is not the answer according to Fellini, but he does a superb job of portraying the sinfulness of man. Cabiria is everyman, needing love but only being used by those around her. There is very mild violence in the film, but there is no onscreen sexual activity or nudity. This is a fascinating film, if only Fellini had known the truth about who Jesus Christ is
(H, C, Fr, Ab, L, V, S, A, D, M) Humanist worldview with references to prayers to the Madonna, miracles, & other Christian symbols which ultimately seem powerless; 7 obscenities & some Italian vulgar hand motions; mild violence including woman hit & thrown in river, two women fight, & a slap; no nudity; prostitution & fornication implied but no sexual act is shown; drinking; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality including pimping & lying.
The re-release of NIGHTS OF CABIRIA acquaints a contemporary generation with the director that most directors choose as their favorite: Federico Fellini. This particular film marks Fellini’s transition from Italian neo-realism to his trademark fantasies. With an extremely deft touch, he gives you deep insights into human nature that are profoundly disquieting so that the audience leaves the theater thinking that they have awoken from a deep slumber, to a new level of awareness. Getting the most out of the acting talents of his award winning wife, Giulietta Masina, Fellini tells the story of a contemporary holy fool innocent, honest, brash, and out of place in society; however, her holiness is a humanist depth of spirit, not a religious attribute.
Messina plays Cabiria, a short, waifish prostitute, who wanders the streets of Rome. Her emotions are displayed vividly on her face. From comic to pathetic, to vigilant, to alienation, she reflects the full range of the human condition. The movie opens with Cabiria cavorting with Georgio, a lover. They run toward the river, where Georgio unexpectedly hits her on the head and pushes her into the river while stealing her purse. Before she drowns, she is rescued by some local boys. When she wakes up, she searches for Georgio and returns to her scarred, bomb-shelter home.
Invincible, she goes back onto the streets. After many incidents and conflicts, she joins a group of street prostitutes who visit a shrine to ask for a miracle from the Virgin Mother. Cabiria asks to be delivered of street life.
The next night, Cabiria wanders into a music hall and is chosen by a magician to go on stage. After the show, a member of the audience named Oscar (Francois Perier) tells her that he fell in love with her when she was on stage. Oscar pursues Cabiria with tenderness and love, grace and savior-faire. Eventually, they marry and Oscar turns out to be a lot more like Georgio than Cabiria expected.
NIGHTS OF CABIRIA is a passionate insight into man’s alienation from God. Clearly, religion is not the answer according to Fellini’s philosophy, but in spite of his overt stab at popular superstition, Fellini does a superb job of portraying the sinfulness of man. Cabiria is everyman, needing love but only being used and abused by all those around her. Fellini has no answer to this human problem, except to get caught up in the reveling of the street urchins. However, there is an Answer, and it is regrettable that Cabiria never gets to know that Answer, one that can set her free from trying to find love in all the wrong places.
It should be noticed that there is very mild violence in the film, usually shot at a distance, but there is no onscreen sexual activity or nudity. In fact, the prostitutes are overdressed, wearing muffs, furs, coats, and ornaments. Today, the average valley girl would be more exposed than Fellini’s women of the night. These prostitutes are also rather plump and matronly – women who have to work for a living, but have chosen the wrong job. This is a fascinating film, if only Fellini had known the truth about who Jesus Christ is.
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