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aka - Giulietta Degli Spiriti
Italy 1965
Directed by
Frederico Fellini
130 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Juliet Of The Spirits

A film that mixes gorgeously seductive, oneiric imagery with lengthy passages of narratively static, reiterative inaction, Giulietta Degli Spiriti is either masterfully cinematic or woefully self-indulgent – or perhaps both - depending on your point of view.  It is certainly too long. Giulietta Masina plays an uptight upper-middle class housewife going through a breakdown as she tries to come to terms with her husband’s philandering. She becomes susceptible to hallucinations that incorporate her family and neighbours who are already pretty much 9/10 on the weirdo scale. This set-up gives Fellini the opportunity to fabricate (from Bri-Nylon as the opening credits proudly state) a non-stop series of bizarre and colourful sequences (reportedly, based on the director’s own LSD-induced visions).

If you love gaudy artifice the wonderful production design and Fellini’s striking mise-en-scène will be a treat. Anyone expecting a story will be disappointed. Fellini was a director who recycled his own life in his films, so given that Masina was his wife and he was well-known as a womaniser, there is a strange, both sympathetic and somewhat cruel, aspect to this account of a woman trying to come to terms with her powerlessness (and a kind of extension of Fellini’s previous offering, Otto e Mezze which followed the exploits of a philandering film director. Sandra Milo who plays Guilietta’s next door neighbour here was the mistress in the earlier film) that for some will mitigate this shortcoming. For many the film, Fellini’s first in colour, marks the end of his best work and no doubt the director would agree, but offer no apologies.

DVD Extras: None

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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