Le notti di Cabiria
Italy, 1957, 117 minutes
Sun, May 3 / 5:00 / Castro / AWAR03C
Tue, May 5 / 8:30 / PFA / NIGH05P
MEL NOVIKOFF AWARD The humorous and deeply affecting story of a spunky prostitute’s misfortunes in postwar Rome, Nights of Cabiria still resonates with the same transformative power audiences first encountered in 1957. The third film in Fellini’s so-called trilogy of loneliness, which includes La Strada and Il Bidone, Nights of Cabiria again stars Fellini’s wife and muse, Giulietta Masina, this time as the waiflike Cabiria, whose brassy, boisterous exterior masks a wistful yearning for love that makes her constantly vulnerable to heartache and exploitation. Even though she spends a lot of time bucking up and sticking her chin out to meet the bad luck that inevitably comes her way, underneath her survivor’s armor Cabiria is a woman of great compassion and feeling. If it is this capacity for love that inevitably proves Cabiria’s undoing, it is also what allows her to survive beyond the tragedy that befalls her. Masina won the best actress award at Cannes for her portrayal, and it is her brilliantly mannered and emotionally touching performance—recalling the expressive physicality of Charlie Chaplin-that is at the heart of the film’s success. The final sequence is a beautifully realized parable of hope and disillusionment that ends in a now famous coda, one of cinema’s greatest depictions of the resilient human spirit. It’s all there in Masina’s face, and in Fellini’s genius at capturing it.