Le Notti Bianche | EW.com

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Le Notti Bianche In Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Dostoyevsky's short story ''White Nights,'' the setting shifts from 19th-century St. Petersburg to 1950s Livorno,...Le Notti BiancheDrama, Foreign Language In Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Dostoyevsky's short story ''White Nights,'' the setting shifts from 19th-century St. Petersburg to 1950s Livorno,...2005-07-19

Le Notti Bianche

Genre: Drama, Foreign Language; Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Maria Schell; Director: Luchino Visconti; Status: In Season

In Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s short story ”White Nights,” the setting shifts from 19th-century St. Petersburg to 1950s Livorno, Italy. The city was re-created in the studio, lending the film a surreal and claustrophobic atmosphere. Mario (Marcello Mastroianni), a lonely clerk, becomes enchanted by the mysterious Natalia (Maria Schell) when he finds her weeping on a footbridge, waiting for her long-absent lover (Jean Marais). (They then spend much of the film moving through dark, mist-filled streets — though they are lured out of their self-consciousness in one scene to dance to a swinging Bill Haley & His Comets tune in a crowded cafe.) One night, convinced that Natalia’s lover is not returning, they take a boat ride through the canals, and the shadowy fog is replaced by a magical snowfall, symbolic of the dreamers’ longing for an unattainable fairy-tale ending. EXTRAS Cinematographer Giuseppe Rottuno discusses Visconti’s desire to make the set of White Nights ”real, yet…unreal,” resulting in a movie that is ”sometimes theater and sometimes cinema.” T. Ryder Smith’s lulling, if dry, rendition of the Dostoyevsky tale, downloadable as an MP3, makes a decent bedtime story. Meanwhile, the silence of rare Mastroianni and Schell screen tests will leave you wishing they were both still alive to contribute commentary.

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