Juliet of the Spirits

Juliet of the Spirits ★★★

Rumour has it Juliet of the Spirits was both a product of an LSD-induced haze and Fellini’s “tribute” to his wife. Both are distinctly probable. The film follows Giulietta through a bizarre sequence of events teasing and positing queries and scenarios regarding femininity, marriage and what it takes to be truly happy. Juliet of the Spirits is, without a doubt, one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. The saturated technicolour is breathtaking. Everything is so beautifully contrasted. Fellini’s camera floats through dreamscapes, examines Masina’s big, gorgeous and expressive eyes and probes the subconscious. Fellini was clearly having fun exploring his dreamy visions, and he occasionally hits on some potent and important points with his delirious surrealism.

Giorgio feels like Fellini’s skinnier, more refined double. Word is Fellini was unfaithful himself, and this film could be his lament for his actions. I can see him experiencing a lot of guilt and using this film as a form of purging. Fellini attempts to rationalise and explore the psychological ramifications of his actions and how they manifested themselves in Giulietta’s mind. His experiences at the circus and with psychics clearly finding their way into his vision as the whole film feels like a celebration of the eccentric and weird people that populated both Fellini and Masina’s lives, as well as Italy in the 60s. They oppress, idolise and react to Giulietta in various ways. As probing as Fellini is, the film’s best moments are fleeting. The scope and visual bombardment too often overwhelm some of the thematic communication. It is a flawed film, and probably 10-15 mins too long, but it is quite the visual achievement. Overall, it is a ride well worth taking.

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