Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
Italy/France, 1965. Rizzoli Film, Francoriz Production. Story and Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi. Cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo. Produced by Henry Deutschmeister, Clemente Fracassi, Angelo Rizzoli. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Giantito Burchiellaro, Luciano Ricceri, E. Benazzi Taglietti. Costume Design by Piero Gherardi. Film Editing by Ruggero Mastroianni. Academy Awards 1966. Golden Globe Awards 1965.
More magical wonder from Federico Fellini, this time making his first feature film in colour (he had directed a short in Boccaccio 70 a few years earlier). Starring Giulietta Masina (the real Mrs. Fellini) as a fictionalized version of herself, Juliet of the Spirits can be considered a female companion piece to 8 1/2. Whereas that film was about a filmmaker who is, among other things, stepping out on his wife, this one is about an Italian housewife who suspects that her public relations genius husband is cheating on her. A seance early in the film opens up her mind to a whole slew of spiritual possibilities that have been lying dormant in her for so long; they also give her the freedom to explore her own feelings while also trying to figure out the truth behind her husband’s reticence to talk about the gap in their relationship. Filmed with the usual florid camera moves and wry characters that populate all of Fellini’s films, this gem is eye popping in its splendour and honest in its depiction of a woman whose psyche is laid out flat for us to explore. Upon its initial release the film was a huge bomb that nearly bankrupted Fellini, who didn’t make another grand feature again until Fellini Satyricon five years later.