Although at first glance it may seem mysoginistic, “City of Women“ is Fellini's most feminist film. It exposes the movement's pros and cons, while looking at the reasons why women are objectified in Western society. A grandiose visual trip with a hypnotic score from Bacalov and great acting from Mastroiani (as usual). To be seen alongside “8 1/2“ in terms of theme.
City of Women is at the raw edge. Man, privileged white European, encounters the feminist revolution, its furies, realities, paradoxes, erotic pulsations. Fellini blows money on this film, grandiose sets, opulent dreams, feminist rallies & playboy mansion. It is the end of one era and the beginning of another. Who wants to face what Fellini reveals? That is why it is a hidden masterpiece. It's absolutely brilliant.
Late period Fellini finds him at his most misogynistic as he attempts to examine the uprising of feminism in Italy in this too simple tale. Even Mastroianni falters here. It seems to almost come together in its penultimate moments before the ridiculous coda that sinks it.
It's as if Fellini watched a bunch of 70's feminist cinema, understood half of it, and then made a movie about it. In that sense, City of Women is an ugly, ideological disaster. And yet, it turns out to the director's most visually arresting effort of his color period! It's also relaxing to see the icon of Mastroianni being challenged as much.
Ode aux femmes, (à toutes), à une époque où le féminisme s'achevait, Fellini nous embarque dans son grand barnum de rêveries autobigraphiques qu'il nous a proposé bien des fois. J'admire sa mise en scène, sa bande son, son souffle de vent, sa musique, ses femmes, l'Italie qui ressemble à un jeu du cirque de l'antiquité.
A Fellini from the last period, surely not his prime, but the unlimited imagination and capacity to create new images is still there. Almost a caricature of a Fellini film : too big, too rich, too much women, too loud, but also overwhelming if you can digest that much. The self-criticism is harsh, Marcello is filmed as an obsessive child, falling in the same pattern over and over again. One of a kind self-portrait.
At its best (far stronger in the first half than in the second (or maybe I was just exhausted)) CITY OF WOMEN possesses the anarchic joie de vivre of THE MUPPET SHOW. In its dedication to berserkoid misadventure of a distinctly themed nature, it was hard not to think of certain postmodern American novelists like Pynchon and Robert Coover. Mastroianni basically a beleaguered foil, the pleasures are all about women.
3.5 It is a bit ‘Fellini does Benny Hill’… but actually it’s more an honest & affable coming-of-maturity story about Snaporaz/Fellini/society finally growing up enough (w/ the often unsolicited help of feminism) to see women as human. In fairness, I was skeptical till well past midway through… He takes a wildly daring narrative risk & I can see why someone might not forgive it. But it's as warm/sweet as any Fellini.
Even at his worst Fellini seems worth the effort. Whole sequences in City of Women are dazzling in their scale & presentation. Images, ideas & scenarios that are incomparable in their vision & unrestrained in their imagination. Unfortunately such sequences are at the service of an empty dream-narrative about a middle-aged man's inability to grasp the necessities of feminism or the role of women in a changing world.