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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria


Film Forum / New York / Film & TV

Nights of Cabiria (1957), directed by Federico Fellini, won him his second Academy Award, but its poignant, heartbreaking power belongs to his wife and muse, the mesmerizing Giulietta Masina. She plays the titular character, an idealistic and altogether-too-trusting young prostitute who makes her way through the streets of postwar Rome, navigating moments that range from the sinister to the spiritual. Fellini fans can see the director teasing out themes he’ll explore in later films, as he starts to move away from neo-realism. Yet the true star of this film is Masina. The power of her performance—in a movie that won for Best International Feature Film—is that she achieves so much without speaking a word. Like Chaplin or Keaton, Masina has eyes that ache with humanity. They conjure worlds—and torrents of emotions—in anyone who gazes into them. A masterpiece. —Michael Hainey

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