Saturday, September 17, 2011
Juliet of the Spirits
Today I watched Juliet of the Spirits, directed by Federico Fellini in 1965. It was his first color film, and it's really just over-the-top with his style. I don't really know how I feel about the movie, though. Ebert seems to think it's a lot better with subtext about Fellini himself and how the movie was made, but nevertheless, it's still great to look at. I...agree? I think?
The film is about "Giulietta, [who] explores her subconscious and the odd lifestyle of her sexy neighbor, Suzy, as she attempts to deal with her mundane life and her philandering oppressive husband. As she increasingly taps into her desires (and her demons) she slowly gains greater self-awareness leading to independence." (From Wikipedia). It's not really the most complicated plot, but Fellini hid a lot of personal feelings in the movie, it seems. Giulietta is played by Fellini's wife, and he made the film for her as a gift. A gift where he implies, as Ebert points out, that she might be happier if she was like her lusty, busty neighbor? Hrrrmmm....
The film is stunning to watch. It's a little over-stylized, but I somehow didn't mind. The color was so lush and beautiful, I didn't really care that it sometimes was a bit too much. It was just wonderful to watch. Dreamy. The characters seem like they walk to music, and the camera just dances with them. I really enjoyed the visuals. I didn't mind the plot so much until I read Ebert's essay and found out that it was supposed to be a gift for his wife and all of that sort of thing, but even knowing that now, I'd just watch it again because it was so beautiful to watch. Ebert says that later on in his career, Fellini became less of a story-teller and more of a "painter of images". I'm still learning a lot about Fellini, but I can see what Ebert was saying. His earlier films that I saw were very focused on plot and story, and also had incredible visual style. Here, it feels like he's more focused on making everything look stunning, and the plot isn't really his priority. I don't mind. I love movies that you can just enjoy visually.
I really enjoyed reading Ebert's essay after I watched this movie, because he had so much information about how the movie was made and this context surrounding it. He talks about how he thinks Fellini's wife seems sad in this film, compared to other characters she plays in his films. He also writes a lot about what stylistic elements we can notice, because there are so many more than normal here. It's a really interesting read, and I learned a lot from it. I never saw any Fellini films before starting this project, so I've been learning a lot about him and his work. I like essays like Ebert's, because I wouldn't know most of this stuff otherwise!
Overall, I think I like this movie. I like watching it, because it looks incredible, and I find it pretty interesting after reading Ebert's essay and learning about the subtext. Without his essay, though, I would probably be a little bit more confused, and much less sure of what to make of the film. I think I would have had a harder time understanding why it might not have focused on the plot so much, and why it was so visually and stylistically over-the-top. But I know I would have appreciated it visually. So I would have liked it either way, but Ebert's essay really deepened my feelings for the film. Thanks, Roger!
Have any thoughts on Juliet of the Spirits? Share them in the comments!
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on Juliet of the Spirits
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