Juliet of the Spirits

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Facts and Figures

Run time: 137 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 3rd November 1965

Distributed by: Criterion Collection

Production compaines: Rizzoli Film, Francoriz Production


Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as Giulietta Boldrini, as Suzy / Iris / Fanny, as Giorgio (Giulietta's husband), as Valentina, Valeska Gert as Pijma, José Luis de Villalonga as Giorgio's friend (as José De Villalonga), Friedrich von Ledebur as Medium (as Fredrich Ledebur)

Juliet of the Spirits Review

Come near and bear witness to Federico Fellini's biggest fiasco, Juliet of the Spirits. Essentially a 2 1/2 hour dream sequence, Fellini cast sometime-collaborator (and longtime wife) Giulietta Masina (Nights of Cabiria) as a put-upon housewife who summons up the energy to leave her philandering husband.

Along the way, she has nonstop visions and heavily symbolic dreams, which are interrupted only by non-sequitur trips to bizarre locales (such as a basket ride to a treehouse in a nearby forest). I'd love to explain further, but to be perfectly honest, none of this makes a lick of sense, leaving us to stare perplexed at Masina's enormous head (perpetually smirking) atop her waifish body while trying to put the nonstop circus/brass band soundtrack out of our heads.

This is not an easy feat, though, and the film's ridiculous construction only makes it worse. Even the wardrobe -- with Masina in an ever-widening series of hats -- is distracting and inappropriate. Hell, if I was Juliet's husband, I'd look for affection elsewhere, too! The film comes together as nothing short of one unbearable sequence after another, with fleeting glimpses of snake-wrapped ladies, shrouded figures, and fruit.

Huh? It's not that I can't abide fantastic creations -- David Lynch has turned unreality into some fine films (though just as many are anything but) -- it's just that they really ought to have a point of some kind. Masina is neither sympathetic nor even believable in the role -- so why should we care about the Freudian content of her tiresome dreams? If they weren't so obvious I'd be perplexed.

What went wrong in this debacle? Following 8 1/2 and several years before Amarcord, Fellini was hardly washed up in 1965. But this was his first film shot in color as well as the follow-up to what many consider to be his masterpiece. Perhaps expectations were too high, perhaps Fellini was just exorcising the creative detritus left over from 8 1/2. Reportedly, he took LSD to prepare for the movie. He might as well have gotten stoned right there on the set -- it couldn't have hurt this production.

Aka Giulietta degli spiriti.


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Juliet of the Spirits Rating

" Terrible "