I really enjoy THIS picture.
Me too! And about Bellissima
, three words: Oh! My! God! But really, a very refreshing, deeply felt tale of one mother's disillusion and her willing to sell herself to shift the spotlight to her daughter. It also shimmers with brilliant humor that comes from...hmmm I have no idea where. With a story like Bellissimma
, you would expect a typical Italian melodrama complete with extreme sentimentality.. maybe in other directors' hands but not Visconti's. He bleaches the story of any speck of sentimentality and turns it into a very lively, painfully humane and hilarious opera of glorious heart and soul.
Visconti's direction is flawless and precise as usual. All the stage mothers are always feverous, sweating, and fanning themselves to death. Is it really from the heat? Or the nerves!? The closing shot shows one single trail of sweat dripping slowly down the girl's head as she sleeps peacefully finally. But that sweat brings out a different meaning. A luminous touch that only Visconti could achieve.
Magnani lets loose completely with the most bravura performance you could ever seen coming from her. Her sheer volcanic beauty jumps out and shakes you, leaving you feeling exhausted and exhilarated as the same time. I think with Visconti's background in opera and Magnani's acting really defining the word "operatic", he brought out Magnani's unique gift better than other directors, Pasolini, Renoir, Rossellini, etc. Look at the close ups of her. They say so much about the love and admiration between the two gods. Look at her moments in the mirror, combing her hair, always debating to herself. Simply ravishing.
I also love how Visconti subtly reveals the "victims" of cinema - the old actress painted in silent-movie pancake and the former starlet now reduced to working in the editing department. Oh god, there's so much more to praise about Bellissima
. That little girl absolutely deserves her own thread on this forum. She couldn't be more perfect.
I know Bellissima
's going to remain with me for the rest of my life. It is one of Visconti's finest films, much richer than the recent Criterion release Le Notti Bianche
. I think that Bellissima
is more interesting and richer than Le Notti Bianche
. In my opinion, Notti
has some flaws. Mastroianni seems miscast. There is a couple of sequences that seem out of place...the beating up of Mastroianni or Calamai.. I can't remember. Call me fussy but how could this poor woman (Natalia) manage to walk a lot in the snow with the type of shoes she has on? Maybe this doesn't really matter but thinking about it every time really leaves me shudder.
I apologize if I made it sound like I was dissing Notti
. It's a good film but not among my favorite Visconti films. This film has a healthy number of fans of Notti
. Some people don't like Ossessione
but I think it's one of the greatest, most emotionally raw films ever made. This one remains my favorite Visconti film. Rocco and His Brothers
and now Bellissima
come very, very close.