Movie Review – Nights of Cabirira

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews
Tags: ,

The story line is simple. A prostitute who walks during nights and the adventures that follow form the base of the story. Something similar to Tamil film Navaratri which features legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan in nine different roles. Just that Savitri is not a prostitute there. But the question is why such a simple story has never been thought before. Is it a mark of genius?


The film opens with Cabiria happily loitering around with his boyfriend (we assume). He pushes her in a stream and runs off with the money. Local crowd there help her out from dying. Cabiria who gets up doesn’t acknowledge them instead she is irritated she asks for his guy and says, “how could he leave me?” The next ten minutes he continues to crib. In those ten minutes we come to know what her life is like with a modest house in deserted area, a friend to fight with and a profession which is not mentioned till the end of the movie but it’s obvious.

Cabiria is such a charming lady especially in third person. You can’t take eyes of her. She constantly reminds you of someone, someone whom you have always wanted to see. A couple of prostitutes walk in café, in a direction opposite to her, hips swaying, she walks towards them but people barely seem to notice her so when she gets to meet them after being escorted by a Alberto, a famous actor, for a night. She calls them and says ‘hey’ to show off she’s got a big bet.

Cabiria is not a person who has something in mind and talks something. She’s what she is. She doesn’t mind dancing like a freak in the dance club; she doesn’t like to hide her enthusiasm when she goes to Alberto’s home. She’s not the one who’s shy. She asks for an autograph of Alberto and kisses him in disbelief.

In fact the whole scene which takes place in Alberto’s house in queer and funny. The way the rich live, her constant admiration for him, the dogs running around, the way she takes steps – two at a time – when she goes up but when she comes down dejected she walks slowly. The latest trailer’s last scene is that of Cabiria getting dashed in the glass door. One of the funniest scene in the movies which happens after she says, “how the hell to get out?”

The next night she goes out to see people who live in caves. The transition from night to day is so seamlessly done. The lighting difference which we hardly notice. She follows this adventure by going to Madonna’s apostle for confession. She like everyone gets afraid there. These scenes are so beautifully done. The way she cries of guilt knowing that she has done something wrong. The usually charming Cabiria goes down on her knees and starts crying. The handicapped man too does the same and cries. A guy always looks at her girlfriend no matter what is happening around him. Nice humor there by Fellini.

All the while the back ground music is something interesting to be noted. The music is opposite to the scene there but still it glorifies the scene like the clever usage of Beethoven during her visit to Alberto’s house. When she looks at the food the music takes a horror note. During the church scenes the scale is high. After the church scene the music is cheerful but that’s when she understands that nothings change. She says, “nothing changes” three times after coming out of the church and see people do what they always do.

Next act is the magic room which again is as beautiful as it can get. When Cabiria asks for ‘how the show is?’ to the ticket seller he replies ‘what you expect me to answer’. Fellini does all these comic scenes so easily which goes on with the flow of the film. Cabiria after she gets in the stage shows her other side. It’s again brilliantly shot. If you carefully notice only the audiences seem to be interested in the magic. Troops who are behind the screens seem to be normal. What’s a revelation for Cabiria and the people around her seem to be just another day in the park for the members. Fellini has such keen eye for details. This scene proves it.

Finally what Cabiria longs for happens he gets a guy. A guy in the name of Oscar, the name that she utters while performing on stage without her knowledge. He woos her completely. Buys here sweets, flowers but doesn’t talk about sex. In a scene she specifically says, “he talks, talks and talks but doesn’t do anything other than that” to her friends. Though she longs for that type of love she couldn’t confess it to her friends. A girls parody. If someone says they’re beautiful though girls ridicule them in front of their friends they tend to like the complement. This scene was similar. Another funny scene is that when she distributes sweets that he has given to her one of her friends try to take it for the third time which she shoos off. She says, “It’s nice”, Cabiria replies, “of course it’s nice” and closes the box.

After he proposes she becomes elated, sells her house, says good bye to everyone though she says she won’t and also goes to the cheerful preacher she met sometime before to confess. Only when she shows the money to Oscar we could see that he’s up to something. His face changes. On a long trail to forest we become even more nervous and as we rightly thought he steals away the money and runs off. So is Oscar just another cheat or is he a companion of magician so that he could cheat every girl who shares this story is not of our concern. What’s our concern is Cabiria is cheated and we hate it.

What Fellini achieved in this film is not showing Cabiria as a prostitute with the heart of gold. It would have been clichéd. By the behavior we don’t start liking Cabiria from the first but she surely is a cheerful a character. We start liking her whenever she comes out of a situation patting her shoulder by herself. That’s because she is alone. She is like a kid. A kid generally if falls down gets up and walks but if we see him/her fall down and we run towards him he/she starts crying. That’s the advantage of Cabiria, as she’s alone she doesn’t have to pretend. She gets on with the life. The movie ends with a brilliant scene again with Cabiria laughing through her tears, mascara withered. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s