Film: Nights of Cabiria (Italian, 1957)


You know, Federico Fellini can be some work. I mean… some work to watch. It's not like you can just zone out and plop in the DVD. I think you have to be 100% dialed in and focused (yes, that note was for you, thou who texts during cinefile history) when watching movies like 'Nights of Cabiria' and other Federico Fellini films to pick up on all the fine details and nuances of cinematography, symbolism, story line...yada yada.

This masterpiece about hope, infinite quest for genuine love and redemption grabs you from the first two minutes right up til its heartbreaking, yet life affirming ending. I know it's very unusual to get absorbed into a film about a hooker-cum-heroine. But in this movie, it's not hard not to fall in love with the protagonist, Cabiria (Giulietta Masina), who is a whore in 1950's Rome. Call her a hopeless romantic, Cabiria simply wants what most of us long be truly loved. And despite all the terrible things and people that she encounters, she still continues to believe in the goodness of mankind.

My 'take away' from 'Nights Of Cabria' is that things aren't all that bad. Or rather, life and happiness is what you make out of it... even if you're dealt with the very worst can still be happy.

Faced with betrayal and tragedy, Cabiria makes her own world a wonderful and magical place, a mirror reflection of her own humanity.


Nights of Cabiria (Le notti di Cabiria) is a tale of a surprisingly naive and kind-hearted prostitute, Cabiria (Giulietta Masina), as she relentlessly looks for true love. In the beginning of the film, she's thrown into a rushing river by her lover, who proceeds to steal her purse (containing 40,000 lire). She doesn't know how to swim and nearly drowns, but is saved by some local boys who live nearby.

The rest of the story follows a series of equally embarassing incidents, wherein Cabiria is constantly mistreated by men and even her best friend, Wanda. Despite the misfortunes, she never gives up and keeps an optimistic outlook. Cabiria eventually meets the seemingly sincere Oscar, who romanticaly pursues her and promises her a happy life. After several dates, she falls madly in love with him and accepts his marriage proposal. During their honeymoon, she is again ruthlessly taken advantage of, and Oscar leaves with her money in tow.

In the film's legendary ending, Cabiria walks back to town and is serenaded by a young group of performers. They cheerfully form a spontaneous procession around her, while she smiles through her tears.

Here's one of the best endings ever put to celluloid (spoiler alert).