City of Women

City of Women perfectly fulfills Fellini’s desire to make films “sincere to the point of being indecent”-appearing to be an autobiographical account of Fellini’s libertine-like experience with women.

“All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”

“Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me.”

These quotes by Fellini reinforce the fact that all his works are reflections of his own life. And City of Women is no exception. It is posed to be a feminist movie but it’s not remarkable in this context, since it just portrays Snaporaz’s journey and his Casanova-like struggles with different women- a European, white cis-man’s perception of women, very out of vogue nowadays perhaps but a fascinating dive into his libidinous subconscious.

The film starts with a sleeping Snàporaz, who is later woken up by the children’s cries and shouts. He then encounters a beautiful, enigmatic woman sitting in front of him with whom he ‘’falls in love’’. This fickle “love” (for casual sex) causes him to follow the woman into a forest and he unexpectedly finds himself in a feminist conference where he is, obviously, an unwelcome guest. But among all the seemingly ‘’haughty’’ women, a sweet and kind Donatella appears, who saves Snàporaz every now and then from the emasculating and assaulting horrors. After overcoming major obstacles such as his wife’s sudden appearance, Dr. Katzone’s bizarre, obscene celebrations and general ‘mistreatment at the hands of women’, Snàporaz finally somehow gets back to his train, leaving him relieved. In the end, however, we see how it was all a dream, the inner workings of an entitled man-child conceptualized, packaged as the ‘’mystery of women’’.

An amusing scene is one when Snàporaz finds himself in bed with his ex-wife. This scene is very strong and impactful because of the heavy sound effects and the storm in the background complementing the aggressive love making initiated by Snàporaz’s ex. In this scene, Snàporaz also appears displeased or rather disappointed as he was expecting Donatella and her friend instead. Later, he tries to run away from his wife after acting as if he was tired after a long day of work. The enraged and lust ridden ex-wife is an interesting image to see, mirroring the angry, liberated women who stalk the movie and whose fury scare the hell out of Snàporaz and his ilk for not having the correct attitude about women.

This gender reversal satire almost feels like a guilty confession, a seven-rings-of-hell-Dante-style Alice of the Wonderland-esque journey, where his own gender’s hypocrisy is inflicted on him repeatedly to pay for the sins of imprisoning women into chauvinistic stereotypes- of the voluptuous beauty, of the docile housewife, and of the antagonising feminist. It feels like a fitting conclusion to the majority of Fellini’s characters- young, debonair womanizers unable to resist running after women turning into middle-aged, greying Casanovas still running after women who no longer want them, culminating into a lifetime of chasing the ‘’ideal woman’’ at the cost of human decency.

Not considered to be Fellini’s most famous or celebrated, the film can be viewed as a perfect summarization of the commentary throughout his work- a visually delightfully stream of consciousness riding weird, funky dream logic in an surrealist ode to women and their anger, and men and their shame.


Geography Hons, 2nd Year

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