Juliet of the Spirits


2h 25m 1965
Juliet of the Spirits

Brief Synopsis

An aging housewife seeks direction when she catches her husband in an affair.

Film Details

Also Known As
Giulietta degli spiriti, Julia und die Geister, Juliette des esprits
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 3 Nov 1965
Production Company
Eichberg-Film; Federiz; Francoriz; Rizzoli Films
Distribution Company
Rizzoli Film Distributors
Country
France
Location
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Giulietta, a plain woman of 35, tries to enjoy life as best she can while living with her husband, Giorgio, who exhibits little feeling for her when he returns home late each evening to their villa near Fregene. Though she affords Giorgio the benefit of the doubt, assuming that a hard day's work and other preoccupations are responsible, she begins to harbor certain fears and a nagging mistrust. Her glamorous mother and her sisters, Adele and Sylva, frequently reproach her for the simplicity of her attitude and the lifestyle she clings to so dearly. When Giorgio brings home a group of friends to hold a seance, Giulietta finds that as one of the participants she is able to call up spirits in her that represent, on the one hand, her fears and, on the other hand, images of her childhood: her grandfather and the convent she endured. Other spirits urge her to compensate by seeking pleasure and self-gratification. Her friend Valentina coaxes her into seeing Bhishma, a mystic who corroborates all that the spirits have told her. Meanwhile, she hires a detective to follow Giorgio, and as predicted, photographs and other evidence reveal his affair with another woman. On the verge of a breakdown, Giulietta meets Susy, her neighbor whose high living and liberated friends provide the excitement and sensuality she has been seeking. But when Giorgio packs to leave for a health resort, undoubtedly with his mistress in tow, Giulietta nearly commits suicide. Instead, she comes to a realization that her fears are unwarranted, that she can survive without Giorgio, and that she has rid herself of the spirits.

Film Details

Also Known As
Giulietta degli spiriti, Julia und die Geister, Juliette des esprits
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Fantasy
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1965
Premiere Information
New York opening: 3 Nov 1965
Production Company
Eichberg-Film; Federiz; Francoriz; Rizzoli Films
Distribution Company
Rizzoli Film Distributors
Country
France
Location
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1965

Best Costume Design

1965

Articles

Juliet of the Spirits


Synopsis: Juliet (Giulietta) is an Italian housewife who suspects that her husband is unfaithful but is unable to face up to it fully. Prone to daydreaming and fascinated by séances and spiritism, she begins to open up to the possibilities of life when she meets Suzy, her colorful, sexually liberated neighbor.

Federico Fellini deliberately conceived of his first color film, Juliet of the Spirits (1965), as the second half of a diptych that includes 8 1/2 (1963). This time, however, it depicts the wife's rather than the unfaithful husband's point of view. Underlying structural parallels between the two films abound: both involve the eruption of dreams into daily life, the revisiting of childhood trauma in order to free one's self, and even specific plot elements such as both protagonists' conflicted relationship with the Catholic church and visits to a religious leader for advice. In 8 1/2 Guido visits an aged cardinal, whereas in Juliet of the Spirits the wife visits an androgynous Hindu sage named Bhishma. (Incidentally, the latter was played by Valeska Gert, best known for her unforgettable performance as the sadistic head of a girl's reformatory school in Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl from 1929.)

Fellini's deep interest in Jungian psychology is critical to understanding both films, but especially Juliet of the Spirits. Fellini began psychotherapy in 1954, in response to a bout of depression he experienced while working on La Strada (1954). As Tullio Kezich notes in his 2002 study of Fellini's life and work, starting in the early Sixties the director began regular analysis with Dr. Ernst Bernard, who trained under Jung. Fellini also read Jung's own writings intensively and began noting his dreams in a diary. In a 1966 interview published in Film Comment, Fellini described his underlying goal behind the film in the following manner: "I want to suggest to modern man a road of inner liberation, to accept and love life the way it is without idealizing it, without creating concepts about it, without projecting oneself into idealized images on a moral or ethical plane." Juliet's progress towards self-knowledge is thus akin to Jung's concept of individuation, entailing as it does her personal spiritual quest, her interpretation of dreams and her relationship to various archetypal figures.

Visualizing the inner world of Giulietta was another matter. In the same Film Comment interview, Fellini said: "The film is a big dream, and color is part of the language of dreams. Dreams are concepts... they are not accessories... or the memory of a sensory reality... the dream is expressed through the colors in order to convey ideas. Giulietta had to be done in color because it is truly a dreamlike film. It was a fascinating experience regardless of the regret, the fear, and the difficulties." In that regard, his collaboration with the production designer Piero Gherardi (1909-1971) and the cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo (1920-1966) played an especially large role in realizing his vision. Gherardi began working with Fellini on Nights of Cabiria (1957), but his work with Fellini became increasingly flamboyant starting with La Dolce Vita (1960) and reached something of a culmination in Juliet of the Spirits, with its outlandishly stylized costumes and sets. Giulietta's home was inspired by Fellini's and Giulietta Massini's actual home in Fregene, but here Gherardi plays with scale so that on the outside it appears small, almost like an oversized doll house, yet oddly spacious in the interior. (The interiors were shot on a soundstage, of course.) Suzy's mansion is a visual riot of primary colors and pastels, with such fanciful details as a slide from the bedroom directly into the swimming pool.

Shooting in color for the first time proved to be more difficult than anticipated for both Fellini and Di Venanzo. Fellini described the process as follows: "I put a light on that green bush, the young lady is in shadow, the camera is a black silhouette against the red color of the house, and I turn on the lights. All goes well if I remain still with the camera, but as soon as I go nearer or farther, things change. This set becomes brighter if I go nearer, it becomes dull if I go farther away, so by the bright and dull process of the lights all the chromatic qualities are changed. So it is actually impossible... you cannot continuously control all the variations of the light." While the finished film remains remarkable for its use of color, afterwards crew members would recall a great deal of tension and openly expressed frustrations between the director and cinematographer on the set. Fortunately, the recent restoration of Juliet of the Spirits and its subsequent re-release enable us to better appreciate what Fellini and his crew did accomplish. While few would argue that Juliet matches up to La Dolce Vita or 8 1/2, Fellini's masterpiece and a regular fixture on critics' all-time best lists, it's nonetheless a worthy entry in the Fellini canon.

Producer: Angelo Rizzoli
Director: Federico Fellini
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi, based on an original idea by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli
Director of Photography: Gianni di Venanzo
Production and costume design: Piero Gherardi
Music: Nino Rota
Editing: Ruggero Mastroianni
Cast: Giulietta Masina (Juliet/Giulietta), Sandra Milo (Suzy, Iris and Fanny), Mario Pisu (Giorgio), Valeska Gert (Bishma), Sylva Koscina (Sylva), Fredrich Ledebur (Medium), Valentina Cortese (Valentina), Jose Luis de Villalonga (Giorgio's friend), Caterina Boratto (Juliet's mother), Lou Gilbert (Grandfather), Luisa della Noce (Adele), Milena Vukotic (Elisabetta).
C-137m. Letterboxed.

by James Steffen
Juliet Of The Spirits

Juliet of the Spirits

Synopsis: Juliet (Giulietta) is an Italian housewife who suspects that her husband is unfaithful but is unable to face up to it fully. Prone to daydreaming and fascinated by séances and spiritism, she begins to open up to the possibilities of life when she meets Suzy, her colorful, sexually liberated neighbor. Federico Fellini deliberately conceived of his first color film, Juliet of the Spirits (1965), as the second half of a diptych that includes 8 1/2 (1963). This time, however, it depicts the wife's rather than the unfaithful husband's point of view. Underlying structural parallels between the two films abound: both involve the eruption of dreams into daily life, the revisiting of childhood trauma in order to free one's self, and even specific plot elements such as both protagonists' conflicted relationship with the Catholic church and visits to a religious leader for advice. In 8 1/2 Guido visits an aged cardinal, whereas in Juliet of the Spirits the wife visits an androgynous Hindu sage named Bhishma. (Incidentally, the latter was played by Valeska Gert, best known for her unforgettable performance as the sadistic head of a girl's reformatory school in Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl from 1929.) Fellini's deep interest in Jungian psychology is critical to understanding both films, but especially Juliet of the Spirits. Fellini began psychotherapy in 1954, in response to a bout of depression he experienced while working on La Strada (1954). As Tullio Kezich notes in his 2002 study of Fellini's life and work, starting in the early Sixties the director began regular analysis with Dr. Ernst Bernard, who trained under Jung. Fellini also read Jung's own writings intensively and began noting his dreams in a diary. In a 1966 interview published in Film Comment, Fellini described his underlying goal behind the film in the following manner: "I want to suggest to modern man a road of inner liberation, to accept and love life the way it is without idealizing it, without creating concepts about it, without projecting oneself into idealized images on a moral or ethical plane." Juliet's progress towards self-knowledge is thus akin to Jung's concept of individuation, entailing as it does her personal spiritual quest, her interpretation of dreams and her relationship to various archetypal figures. Visualizing the inner world of Giulietta was another matter. In the same Film Comment interview, Fellini said: "The film is a big dream, and color is part of the language of dreams. Dreams are concepts... they are not accessories... or the memory of a sensory reality... the dream is expressed through the colors in order to convey ideas. Giulietta had to be done in color because it is truly a dreamlike film. It was a fascinating experience regardless of the regret, the fear, and the difficulties." In that regard, his collaboration with the production designer Piero Gherardi (1909-1971) and the cinematographer Gianni di Venanzo (1920-1966) played an especially large role in realizing his vision. Gherardi began working with Fellini on Nights of Cabiria (1957), but his work with Fellini became increasingly flamboyant starting with La Dolce Vita (1960) and reached something of a culmination in Juliet of the Spirits, with its outlandishly stylized costumes and sets. Giulietta's home was inspired by Fellini's and Giulietta Massini's actual home in Fregene, but here Gherardi plays with scale so that on the outside it appears small, almost like an oversized doll house, yet oddly spacious in the interior. (The interiors were shot on a soundstage, of course.) Suzy's mansion is a visual riot of primary colors and pastels, with such fanciful details as a slide from the bedroom directly into the swimming pool. Shooting in color for the first time proved to be more difficult than anticipated for both Fellini and Di Venanzo. Fellini described the process as follows: "I put a light on that green bush, the young lady is in shadow, the camera is a black silhouette against the red color of the house, and I turn on the lights. All goes well if I remain still with the camera, but as soon as I go nearer or farther, things change. This set becomes brighter if I go nearer, it becomes dull if I go farther away, so by the bright and dull process of the lights all the chromatic qualities are changed. So it is actually impossible... you cannot continuously control all the variations of the light." While the finished film remains remarkable for its use of color, afterwards crew members would recall a great deal of tension and openly expressed frustrations between the director and cinematographer on the set. Fortunately, the recent restoration of Juliet of the Spirits and its subsequent re-release enable us to better appreciate what Fellini and his crew did accomplish. While few would argue that Juliet matches up to La Dolce Vita or 8 1/2, Fellini's masterpiece and a regular fixture on critics' all-time best lists, it's nonetheless a worthy entry in the Fellini canon. Producer: Angelo Rizzoli Director: Federico Fellini Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi, based on an original idea by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli Director of Photography: Gianni di Venanzo Production and costume design: Piero Gherardi Music: Nino Rota Editing: Ruggero Mastroianni Cast: Giulietta Masina (Juliet/Giulietta), Sandra Milo (Suzy, Iris and Fanny), Mario Pisu (Giorgio), Valeska Gert (Bishma), Sylva Koscina (Sylva), Fredrich Ledebur (Medium), Valentina Cortese (Valentina), Jose Luis de Villalonga (Giorgio's friend), Caterina Boratto (Juliet's mother), Lou Gilbert (Grandfather), Luisa della Noce (Adele), Milena Vukotic (Elisabetta). C-137m. Letterboxed. by James Steffen

Quotes

Trivia

Director Federico Fellini claimed he took LSD in preparation for making this film.

Notes

Opened in Rome in October 1965 as Giulietta degli spiriti; running time: 120 min; in Paris as Juliette des esprits in October 1965; running time: 150 min; released in West Germany in November 1965 as Julia und die Geister; running time: 145 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

The Country of Italy

Voted Best Foreign Film of the Year by the 1965 New York Film Critics Association.

Voted Best Foreign Language Film of the Year by the 1965 National Board of Review.

Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1965 New York Times Film Critics.

Released in United States Fall November 4, 1965

Released in United States March 1985

Re-released in United States June 29, 2001

Re-released in United States May 18, 2001

Fellini's first color feature.

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)

Re-released in United States May 18, 2001 (Film Forum; New York City)

Re-released in United States June 29, 2001 (Cecchi Gori; Los Angeles)

Released in United States Fall November 4, 1965