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Nov 8:  Lecture: Italian Cinema - Neorealism and Beyond (Pascal Iannone)

             Film: Nights of Cabiria (Fellini)

Of all his characters, Fellini once said, Cabiria was the only one he was still worried about: a prostitute with a heart of gold, walking the streets of Rome and dreaming of finding true love. She maintains a naive optimism in the face of adversity, but the film's famous final scene gives no commitment that this optimism is in any way warranted. The film was written by Fellini, based on stories told to him by a prostitute. Pier Paolo Pasolini advised on the dialogue, given his familiarity with Rome's criminal underworld. It was financed by Dino de Laurentiis - no one else would finance a movie which had a prostitute as heroine.

Made in 1957, it won Fellini his second Oscar in a row for Best Foreign Language Film (after La Strada in 1956), and his wife, Giulietta Masina, who plays Cabiria, won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. Nights of Cabiria is a transitional movie, between the neo-realism of early post-war Italian cinema (Fellini worked on the screenplay for Rossellini's Rome - Open City) and later movies, such as La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times called it "a cinematic masterpiece", and added that the final shot of Cabiria is worth more than "all the fire-breathing blockbusters Hollywood has to offer."