A party of aristocrats lounging after their fancy dinner gradually discover they can’t leave the living room. Hours become days. A bear, a disembodied hand, and their own impotence torment them as their selfishness and neglect bring society crashing down.
“Between socialism and physical love there can be no conflict!”
A documentary on a controversial psychoanalyst spirals into anarchic, obscene satire. Makavejev was exiled for derision of the state, but he also targets the everyday ideologues who put dogma ahead of people.
A series of strangers tell a story one piece at a time. Each turns the narrative in their own direction, carrying the film crew from location to location adding new perspectives and tones. Remarkable, dizzying tour of a culture and the act of storytelling.
Giulietta Masina’s endlessly expressive face drives the whole film. She may be robbed and shoved in the river in the opening seconds, but Masina refuses to let Cabiria become pathetic. We have no reason to think she’ll be ok, but her eyes make us believe it.