Juliet of the Spirits / Giulietta degli spiriti (1965)

4.5 out of 5

Moving away from the stark, downbeat neorealism of his celebrated earlier work, here Federico Fellini finally embraces Technicolor with Juliet of the Spirits. And what an eye-popping experience it is!

Rooted in both psychoanalysis and the surreal, Juliet of the Spirits nevertheless provides just about enough of an anchor in the real to make some sense of the unrelenting assault of psychedelic weirdness that comprises the brilliant, and busy, final third. Here, a dazzling and dizzying display of fragmented symbols convey the thoughts, dreams, fears and fantasies of a superstitious cuckquean played by Giulietta Masina.

Flashback exposition of a traumatic school play presage the recurring appearance of nuns and the resurrection of a school friend. While guilt and fear are expressed in a semiotic relationship with the iconography of Christian martyrdom. Complex, yes! Yet, while this is something of an enigmatic feature, demanding patience and concentration throughout, both should be rewarded in abundance.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics