Juliet of the Spirits

"Bad"

Juliet of the Spirits Review


Come near and bear witness to Federico Fellini's biggest fiasco, Juliet of the Spirits. Essentially a 2 1/2 hour dream sequence, Fellini cast sometime-collaborator (and longtime wife) Giulietta Masina (Nights of Cabiria) as a put-upon housewife who summons up the energy to leave her philandering husband.

Along the way, she has nonstop visions and heavily symbolic dreams, which are interrupted only by non-sequitur trips to bizarre locales (such as a basket ride to a treehouse in a nearby forest). I'd love to explain further, but to be perfectly honest, none of this makes a lick of sense, leaving us to stare perplexed at Masina's enormous head (perpetually smirking) atop her waifish body while trying to put the nonstop circus/brass band soundtrack out of our heads.

This is not an easy feat, though, and the film's ridiculous construction only makes it worse. Even the wardrobe -- with Masina in an ever-widening series of hats -- is distracting and inappropriate. Hell, if I was Juliet's husband, I'd look for affection elsewhere, too! The film comes together as nothing short of one unbearable sequence after another, with fleeting glimpses of snake-wrapped ladies, shrouded figures, and fruit.

Huh? It's not that I can't abide fantastic creations -- David Lynch has turned unreality into some fine films (though just as many are anything but) -- it's just that they really ought to have a point of some kind. Masina is neither sympathetic nor even believable in the role -- so why should we care about the Freudian content of her tiresome dreams? If they weren't so obvious I'd be perplexed.

What went wrong in this debacle? Following 8 1/2 and several years before Amarcord, Fellini was hardly washed up in 1965. But this was his first film shot in color as well as the follow-up to what many consider to be his masterpiece. Perhaps expectations were too high, perhaps Fellini was just exorcising the creative detritus left over from 8 1/2. Reportedly, he took LSD to prepare for the movie. He might as well have gotten stoned right there on the set -- it couldn't have hurt this production.

Aka Giulietta degli spiriti.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 137 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd November 1965

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Rizzoli Film, Francoriz Production

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Giulietta Boldrini, as Suzy / Iris / Fanny, as Giorgio (Giulietta's husband), as Valentina, Valeska Gert as Pijma, José Luis de Villalonga as Giorgio's friend (as José De Villalonga), Friedrich von Ledebur as Medium (as Fredrich Ledebur)

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