White Nights

  • 1957
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Lonely, introspective clerk Mastroianni offers his assistance to the sobbing Schell, whom he spots standing on a canal bridge one winter evening. She explains that she awaits the return of the man she loves, a one-time lodger at the home of her blind grandmother, a seaman who had promised to return to her in one year. Suspecting that her tardy fantasy lover...read more

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Lonely, introspective clerk Mastroianni offers his assistance to the sobbing Schell, whom he spots standing on a canal bridge one winter evening. She explains that she awaits the return of the man she loves, a one-time lodger at the home of her blind grandmother, a seaman who had promised

to return to her in one year. Suspecting that her tardy fantasy lover may have returned to a nearby hotel, she asks that Mastroianni take a note to him. Sorely smitten with Schell, Mastroianni wastes little time in destroying the note. Meeting her again the following evening at her place of

assignment, Mastroianni importunes Schell to go to a dance with him. Following an evening of choreographic abandon, the enthused pair stroll homeward, Mastroianni uncharacteristically verbalizing his romantic fantasies of Schell to her. As they approach the bridge of assignation, she spots the

silhouette of a man standing there. She runs to meet her sailor sweetheart, leaving Mastroianni in the company of a stray dog. Dostoyevsky's tale of the reality of fantasy was transposed by Visconti from mid-1800s St. Petersburg to a modern Italian town of meandering canals, its romantic mood

counterpoised by a group of prostitutes, pickpockets, and motor scooters. Filmed entirely in the studio, the sombre, misty sets are reminiscent of the murky mood pieces of Marcel Carne. Illusory, dreamlike flashback memories mingle strangely with the realities of the rock 'n' roll cacophony of the

dialog-free dancehall scenes. A deliberately artificial exercise by a director who had previously specialized in neorealism.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Lonely, introspective clerk Mastroianni offers his assistance to the sobbing Schell, whom he spots standing on a canal bridge one winter evening. She explains that she awaits the return of the man she loves, a one-time lodger at the home of her blind grand… (more)

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