Nights of Cabiria
(Le notti di Cabiria)
Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Amedeo Nazzari, Franca Marzi,
In Nights of Cabiria, the prostitute who first comforted the hapless husband in Federico Fellini’s early film The White Sheik comes into her own, and holds her own even though she is continually exploited, robbed, and physically abused by the very men she loves. Giulietta Masina, in one of her finest performances, turns a film about prostitutes, pimps, and johns into an ironically radiant statement about the indestructibility of the human spirit. Cabiria is five feet of pure defense; her mantra is “I have everything I need.” Still, the temptation is always to love; Cabiria lets down her guard and is literally hypnotized into desire. Nights of Cabiria shows how Fellini transformed the precepts of neorealism into a poetry of place—the dusty outpost where Cabiria lives, the slick highways she haunts at night. Like Augusto in Il bidone, Cabiria will come in from the margins only to be cast out again.