Luchino Visconti is one of those film authors that helped writting the history of the Golden Age of Italian Cinema, or neorealism. Call it what you want.
What the directors of this wave did was that they gave up the big movie sets, the expensive decor, props and costumes. They brought the cameras outside, in the streets, and started filming stories showing everyday life and real problems of society and humanity. The deep stuff, you know.
To be honest, I am not a big fan of Visconti, the only movie directed by him that I’ve watched being Death in Venice(1971). I only liked 10 minutes of this 2 hour-long movie, and it wasn’t like one of those times when the 10 minutes make up for the rest of the film.
I actually decided to watch Le notti bianche-White Nights(1957) because of the main actor.I typed in Marcello Mastroianni in the all mighty IMDb search engine and I chose this movie. One thing I can say for sure, I liked it more than Death in Venice.
The story shows the contrast between steady and transient. There’s a woman that still loves a guy that she haven’t seen sight of for a long time, and a man that is used to temporary affection, due to his constant travelling (and way of being, of course).
Natalia (Maria Schell) is crying on a bridge when Mario (Mastroianni) notices her and tries to start a conversation. She doesn’t seem very communicative, but tells him to meet her in the same place the next day.
When Natalia sees that he actually came to meet her, she runs and tries to hide. Mario finds her, but he feels offended and wants to leave, but she stops him and explains the reason she was on the bridge a night ago.
We find out she’s in love with a man that apparently had some business to resolve and promised to return in a year’s time. Mario listens to her story and he can’t belive his ears. How could her love for him survive for a year? How can she possibly believe he’s going to come back?
The whole movie is a battle between rationality and trust. Between cynicism and love. Will the girl give up her perfect definition of love, will her lover actually return?
I liked the story. The whole you-can’t-make-someone-love-you-just-because-you-want-to concept. It’s realistic, it still applies and I guess it always will.
I loved the cinematography. Some of the shots were really really pleasant to my eyes.
What I didn’t like was Schell’s acting. I know that old movies have a theatrical touch in the actors performances, but I think she went beyond that. At some point she was just plain annoying.
Here’s Marcello being my spirit animal.
And here is Marcello dancing.
I love Marcello. But you already know that.