Nights of Cabiria – AKA How I Love My Fellini!

If you have clicked on this post hoping for an insight on Federico Fellini, or an analysis of his 1957 film, or even a commentary on Italian Neo-Realism, you are out of luck. I am not that kind of writer and anyway, critiques and critics bore me. For me, all cinema is about a feeling. While some films touch our hearts deeper and stronger than others, there are very few films that I find totally useless, particularly ones that deal with human emotions and true-to-life communication, or lack thereof, between the sexes. To those who have made it a point to call me a ‘Promoter’ I say, THANK YOU! I am that, only that and very happy with THAT.

By chance, I happened upon ‘Nights of Cabiria’ on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Lazy after weeks of superhuman work and even harder times. Perhaps its grittiness and Cabiria’s helpless yet undyingly positive attitude drew me in, reminding me of my situation. I know, it’s absurd, I don’t live in Ostia in the late 50s in a cement box, I am not an aging prostitute, don’t look at all like the petite Giuletta Masina – the list of donts and nots goes on and on… But humanly, deep in my heart at this time, I relate.

OK, so I’ll take a moment to preach just now. To all men out there, who are even remotely looking to impress any woman – particularly an Italian ‘verace’ such as yours truly – in their future, you must WATCH ITALIAN MOVIES. Even the bad guys in those films have manners. From Mastroianni to Perier, these men buy flowers, they pick up the tab, they compliment a woman. I cried when Oscar meets Cabiria at the tram stop, with chocolates and a kind word about her appearance. Of course, he doesn’t turn out to be quite her Prince Charming, but at least his demeanor is gentlemanly. He acts like a man. 

These days, guys want to split dinner, hardly give a girl who has spent some time on making herself extra pretty for them a second look – God forbid a compliment should escape their lips, they might be stricken dead! – oh, and when you do pick up the tab, out of the kindness of your heart, they ‘forget’ to thank you for it… It’s not a wonder I am single, I think I recognize too easily that the devil hides in the details. But I digress.

Back to Cabiria. There is a deep connection for me with Fellini’s films. It’s the reason I probably inherently understood Anurag Kashyap’s ‘No Smoking’ immediately the first time around, because it holds for me the same charisma, the same wonderful connection that ’8 1/2′ holds. I don’t necessarily have to have all my questions answered by a film, I just need my heart and soul to understand its meaning. And if that same film delivers a bit of extra magic in my life, even better. No other film non-Fellini oeuvre does that for me like ‘No Smoking’. 

Perhaps this deep connection stems from being Italian. OK, that’s the easy explanation, but it doesn’t stop there. None of my cousins have watched more than two of Fellini’s films in their lifetime and won’t be able to hold a decent conversation even about those they have seen. I myself admit that as a teenager and through my twenties, I rejected his films like ‘La Strada’ as pathos. But after nearly a decade of Hindi cinema, I get his extravagance, his inventive casting, his obsession with grandiose music, his magical stories so much more. His pathos isn’t so pathetic anyone, but actually the beginning of something positive, that time right before the good enters our lives. In fact, Cabiria’s walk among the musician is a walk we have all taken, at some point or another. It’s that moment after signing the divorce papers, after moving on from a terrible situation, after making a difficult but unavoidable decision. It’s a rebirth, which means shedding all that is holding us back first, quite a scary thought for all of us…

So, what was the point of this essay of mine? Well, I guess what I am trying to say is watch more Italian – and Indian of course – films everyone and learn about life from those who really know how to live it.

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One Response to “Nights of Cabiria – AKA How I Love My Fellini!”

  1. Fast Tuesday links « jaqsmith:

    [...] http://theajnabee.com/?p=2317In fact, Cabiria’s walk among the musician is a walk we have all taken, at some point or another. It’s that moment after signing the divorce papers, after moving on from a terrible situation, after making a difficult but unavoidable … [...]

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