directed by Federico Fellini (1957)
I expected Nights of Cabiria to be great, considering Fellini is directing, but it’s so much smaller in scale and less dramatic and surreal compared to my favorites (8 1/2 and Amarcord) that I was surprised to fall so hopelessly in love with it like I have.
Much of the magic of the film belongs to Fellini’s wife and star Giulietta Masina, whose adorable face is one of cinema’s most expressive. She manages to make the character of Cabiria, an aging prostitute in Rome touching, prickly, slightly disturbed and incredibly charming all at once.
I really can’t imagine any other actress creating such a memorable and complex woman with little more than a smile and a smirk. Of course, the cast orbiting her is also spectacular and in usual Fellini fashion, awesome to look at. Her curvy best friend Wanda is notably amazing.
Divided into small intimate vignettes of her life, you grow incredibly tender for this scrappy but deeply damaged woman. Nothing is more painful than watching someone you care about get hurt and it’s even harder you see it coming a mile away and they are oblivious.
As she walks down the street, literally brushing her self off from rock bottom and manages a tearful smile to the camera, it’s impossible not to get teary eyed yourself. It’s a rare treasure to find a film that can evoke so much compassion.
Cabiria just reminds me and affirms again that Fellini truly was a genius, whether depicting the lavish loves of the jet set or the hard knock day to day of the poor. A must see!