Italy, 1965, 137 min
Direction: Federico Fellini
Cast: Giulietta Masina, Sandra Milo, Mario Pisu, Valentina Cortese, Valeska Gert, Caterina Boratto, Frederick Ledebur, Sylvia Koscina, Lou Gilbert, Milena Vukotić, George Ardisson, Marilu Tolo
Awards: Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film in 1966, Silver Ribbon for Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Supporting Actress by Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists in 1966, KCFCC Award for Best Director in Kansas City in 1967, NBR Award for Best Foreign Language Film by National Board of Review, USA in 1966, and NYFCC Award for Best Foreign Language Film by New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1965
Selection: Pedja’s Film Collection
Juliet of the Spirits is a work that the most famous representative of the Italian film school used to step in the age of the colour-film. By that time, Felini was a three-time Oscar winner (La Strada 1954, Le notti di Cabiria 1957 and 8 1/2 1963), so he created a visual spectacle with beautiful photography of high colours and extravagant costumes for the occasion, in addition to irresistibly romantic music by Nina Rote (Godfather, Amarcord). This comic film story charged with erotic urge, basically celebrates life and the emancipation of the women in a completely special, renaissance, Felini way, making the visual favorite to the told, and dreams to reality. The great wizard of the celluloid tape utterly dedicated this work to his, actual at the time, wife, called Giulietta Masina who, accidentally, played the lead role in the movie.
Juliet is a mid-age housewife with a love-life that gradually enters a marital crisis. The story begins when she, as a typical Italian caring wife, prepares a romantic celebration dinner to her beloved husband who only uses it as an excuse to bring a bunch of friends to their house and spend a loud and drunken night with them. Completely neglected, Juliet worries because Giorgio keeps staying out, because of his work, allegedly, so she suspiciously hires private detectives to follow him. To her terror, she gets evidence that her husband openly flirts with other women. Not wanting to confess the true reason of her melancholy, she starts a game of balancing between this world and the world beyond, trying to find comfort in the sensual company of ghosts. Fantastic illusions grow in her head, never knowing what is real and what is not, and who of the numerous fictional characters is actually real. And a typical Felini mass of colourful characters is more than rich: sculptor Dolores, crazy guru Bizma, bizarre neighbour Suzy, Juliet’s mother and trouble-making grandfather, school friend Laura… Even the detectives themselves act like some bureaucratic official from the other world. Playful in the creations of her own imagination, Juliet keeps spending time in touch with her wishes, so gradually, she becomes independent.
The too experienced cineaste knew exactly what was needed to seduce the tricky world of the film critics, and indirectly, of the audience. Indeed, nominations by the American Film Academy for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Costume Design followed, but at the end of the night, Felini stayed empty-handed, to the surprise of all, especially after winning Golden Globe for the best foreign movie. However, a few years later, in 1973, he made Amarcord and carved his name forever on the top of the list of the greatest creators of the seventh art.