EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|WHITE NIGHTS (LE NOTTI BLANCHE) (director/writer: Luchino Visconti; screenwriters: Suso Cecchi D'Amico/from the novel White Nights by Fyodor Dostoyevsky; cinematographer: Giuseppe Rotunno; editor: Mario Serandrei; music: Nino Rota; cast: Marcelo Mastroianni (Mario), Maria Schell (Natalia), Jean Marais (Lodger), Clara Calamai (Prostitute), Marcella Rovena (Housewife), Maria Zanoli (Housekeeper); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Franco Cristaldi; The Criterion Collection; 1957-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)|
|"My favorite Visconti film."
by Dennis Schwartz
The visually stunning black
and white film by Luchino Visconti
("Ossessione"/"Rocco and His Brothers"/"Bellissima")
won Best Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1957.
Visconti and co-writer Suso Cecchi D'Amico
adapt it from the 1848 short story by Fyodor
Dostoyevsky, changing the setting from St. Petersburg
to Italy's modern-day Livorno. Visconti filmed
the Tuscan city entirely in the studio. It was filmed
again in 1960 by the Russian Ivan Pyryev, where it's
set in 19th century Russia. In 1971 French director
Bresson filmed it with a modern-day Paris setting as
Four Nights of a Dream. It's about dreamers and how
some dreams come true but some turn into nightmares.
It tells about self-delusion, and how people get
trapped in living in a fantasy world or a world of
cold reality and can't adjust to live in both worlds.
It marks Visconti veering away from making a pic
that's entirely neo-realistic, as he added many
splendid fantasy scenes. Visconti became known for his
later films that mixed neo-realism with colorful
Nights takes place over a period of four winter
nights, and feels claustrophobic as the same Esso gas
station, cafe and canal bridge is shown.
shy ordinary guy, Mario (Marcelo Mastroianni), has been
relocated to Livorno for his job as a clerk for the
last two weeks and is lonely. Returning late at night
by bus from a day country outing with his boring but
nice guy supervisor's family, he ventures to the
nearby bridge canal and makes conversation with an
attractive woman crying and tries to cheer her up. He
learns she lives on one side of the bridge where
everything is quiet and old-fashioned, while he lives
on the other side of the bridge that is brimming with
crowded city life, neon lit night life, shops, movie
houses and cafes. The girl fails to keep her date at
the bridge the next night, but they have another
chance encounter and she tells him why she broke the
date by telling her life story. Mario learns she's a
foreigner, of Slavic descent, named Natalia (Maria
only family member is a nearly blind grandmother who
raised her and since her rug merchant husband died now
repairs rugs with the help of an elderly worker and is
cared for by a live-in housekeeper. To bring in more
money, granny rents to a mysterious handsome lodger (Jean
Natalia falls in love with. He has left a year ago and
promises to return to her, but has left her
heartbroken by not keeping his promise. In the
meantime Mario has fallen in love with Natalia, and
the two lonely hearts seem to be getting on though
their head trips greatly differ. The most lively scene
has the couple stumble into a nightclub and after
watching the young folks dancing to Bill Haley and the
Comets' rock song "Thirteen Women," join the dancers
on the crowded dance floor.
When it looks like Mario
has won over the hysterical and not so innocent
Natalia and they are getting emotionally close while
in a borrowed rowing boat at night and are cheered by
a sudden snow shower, the lodger returns and with a
chill in the air Natalia abandons Mario. In the last
scene, a heartbroken Mario walks alone on the same
empty streets by the gas station as in the opening
scene and pets the same stray dog and looks all the
worse for his entanglement with impossible love.
This was my favorite
REVIEWED ON 4/11/2013 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ