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Nights of Cabiria

Nights of Cabiria (1957)


What a wonderful film this is! I could go on and on about Fellini's virtuosic visual storytelling or Giulietta Masina's fantastic acting performance in this heart-whole piece of stunning cinema, but these are not the reasons why I wanted to write this short "free-form" review. I mainly want to talk about the film's content and especially the meaning and implications of the film's brilliant ending. I'm just going to write "from the heart" a little bit. Some sentences and words. No structure. My apologies to everyone who expected something decent!


A prostitute gets robbed by her boyfriend. It's not the first time she's betrayed by someone who supposedly loves her.

Her angry, cynical and insecure self takes over.
She dances on the street.

A movie star picks her up. This must be a dream. It turns out to be one of the many nightmares of reality... She's not someone's goal. She's an object of pleasure that can be tossed away in an instant. She's merely a distraction. She's not alive.

Can faith save her? Is there someone there to guard and guide her? She cries. Has something changed? She doesn't feel it. Nothing happens.
How dare they sell us false hope! How dare they believe!

A man feeds the homeless. Is there pure goodness in the world? He's the proof.

She's on a vaudeville stage. Hypnotized. She shares her inner feelings. She's like the rest of us. All of us. Longing for someone. Longing for romance. Warmth.

Oscar saw her true self. He saw something special. He gets her. They are the same. They should be together!

Cabiria leaves and sells everything for love. She's going to marry. She finally made it. Oscar doesn't even care about her past. It's almost too good to be true.
It is.

Everything turned out to be deception. One big disillusion. He doesn't love her.

A prostitute gets robbed by her boyfriend. It's not the first time she's betrayed by someone who supposedly loves her.

If there's one thing we've learned from history, it is that we haven't learned anything from it.


Why would someone ever want to live the life she's living? Isn't the one true happiness in life to love and be loved?

Good questions. Painful questions. Bad questions. If there isn't faith and if there isn't love, then what gives us the strength to go on? What's the point? None.

Darkness. Sadness. Torn.

Cabiria gets up. Laughing humans suddenly enter the frame. Dancing teenagers. Happiness around her.

Her face. One beautiful tear and ... a smile.

What makes her smile? Hasn't she lost everything? Isn't it over?

Tragedy. Merciless tragedy.

But also a desperate and hopeful smile.

The lack of answers is frustrating and satisfying.

Life above death? Pain above death?

Why? Why not?


Share your thoughts on this magnificent film!