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City of Women(1980)
A businessman finds himself trapped at a hotel and threatened by women en masse.
For more about City of Women and the City of Women Blu-ray release, see City of Women Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 17, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Federico Fellini
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Donatella Damiani, Bernice Stegers, Silvana Fusacchia, Hélène Calzarelli
» See full cast & crew
City of Women Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 17, 2011
Winner of four Silver Ribbon Awards, Federico Fellini's "La città delle donne" a.k.a "City of Women" (1980) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont. The supplemental features on the disc include French and Italian theatrical trailers; video interview with production designer Dante Ferretti; new documentary film featuring producer Renzo Rossellini, film historian Aldo Tassone, producer and film historian Carlo Lizzani, and Federico Fellini's assistant Dominique Delouche; video interview with Italian director Tinto Brass; and more. In Italian, with optional English, French, and French SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Snaporaz (Marcello Mastroianni, Marriage Italian Style, 8½) is a middle-aged man obsessed with women. While traveling, he meets one (Bernice Stegers, Quartet, The Girl) that transforms him into an animal. He tries to seduce her in a train's washroom but she runs away. He follows her to a hotel somewhere in the countryside where a massive feminist convention is underway. After the object of his desire disappears, he is confronted by hordes of angry women. With a little bit of luck, he manages to escape them.
On the way back to Rome, Snaporaz is nearly raped by an old farm woman who has not been with a man in years. Soon after, a group of seriously stoned girls give him a ride to the estate of Dr. Xavier Katzone (Ettore Manni, Le Amiche, Mademoiselle), a crazy sex maniac celebrating a major accomplishment - the fact that he has managed to bed 10,000 women. While wandering around the estate, Snaporaz meets his slightly inebriated wife (Anna Prucnal, Bastien, Bastienne, Sweet Movie).
At the end of the celebration, Dr. Katzone invites Snaporaz and his wife to spend the night in one of his many guest bedrooms. Snaporaz's exhausted wife quickly falls asleep but he begins hearing strange noises that drive him crazy. He looks under their bed to see where the noises are coming from and discovers a tunnel leading to a giant amusement park.
City of Women is a beautiful, colorful and intensely erotic film directed by a man with an incredible imagination. It feels rather chaotic at times but it oozes a type of energy that is absolutely impossible not to admire.
The film's greatest strength is its unapologetic depiction of the gender clash in a society in which women have long been denied the right to question men. Though Fellini does not side with them, he acknowledges that their anger is justified because they have been mistreated by men who see them either as servants or passive sexual objects.
In the film, however, Snaporaz, Fellini's alter ego, is driven by the exact same male desires that have inspired the women to unite and rise up. For Snaporaz, these desires are natural because the women in his life have always encouraged them; for the women, they are men's Achilles heel.
Fellini pokes fun at both sides by exposing their weaknesses and ultimately their total dependence on each other. Despite their anger the women enjoy being pursued. When they tease Snaporaz, they feel strong because they are in control. Ironically, or not, Snaporaz also enjoys being denied what he so passionately desires because it prolongs his sexual fantasies, which at his age are a lot more exciting and fulfilling.
To understand how incredibly accurate Fellini's depiction of the gender clash is one must have a good grasp of the unique environment Italian men and women share, as well as the manner in which they interact. In Italy, women's sexuality has long been officially disciplined and controlled, often on religious grounds, yet their objectification as sex symbols is still very much encouraged by men.
Note: In 1980, City of Women was awarded four Silver Ribbons by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Best Director (Federico Fellini), Best Cinematography (Giuseppe Rotunno), Best Production Design (Dante Ferretti), and Best Costume Design (Gabriella Pescucci).
City of Women Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Federico Fellini's City of Women arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of French distributors Gaumont.
The high-definition transfer Gaumont have used for their Blu-ray release of Fellini's legendary film has been struck from a newly restored master. Naturally, there are major improvements in every single area of importance we address in our reviews. I was most impressed with the color and shadow improvements (especially during the dream sequences from the final third of the film). The faded, incredibly weak colors of the R1 SDVD release of City of Women, courtesy of the now defunct New Yorke Video, have been replaced by warm but lush colors that enhance the film's sense of surreal absurdity exceptionally well. The contrast levels also have an entirely different complexion. The darker footage from Dr. Xavier Katzone's mansion, for instance, is now actually watchable. Edge-enhancement is not an issue of concern, though there are a few scenes where extremely mild sharpening is noticeable. Heavy aliasing or banding do not plague the high-definition transfer either. This being said, I must point out that there are traces of mild denoising, the most prominent of which appear during selected daylight scenes (see screencapture #6). Detail, however, is not affected dramatically. In fact, in motion the denoising corrections are practically impossible to detect. Lastly, there are absolutely no debris, scratches, flecks, or large cuts. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu).
City of Women Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 and French DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0. For the record, Gaumont have provided optional English, French and French SDH subtitles for the main feature.
As it is the case with many of Federico Fellini's films, the original audio track contains plenty of overdubbing (a good number of the actors dubbed themselves after the film was completed). Naturally, occasionally there are small sync issues which some viewers are likely to notice.
The Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track has a very good dynamic amplitude, but it is the improved balance that impresses the most. On the old R1 SDVD release of City of Women, the are numerous balance issues - the audio would simply drop a level or two - that have been effectively addressed. Luis Bacalov's surreal score has also benefited from the loseless treatment, as various small themes (the piano theme is a perfect example) are a lot easier to recognize and appreciate. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow. The English translation, courtesy of Gene Luotto/Eclair Video-Paris, is very good.
City of Women Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Note: All of the supplemental features on this Blu-ray disc are perfectly playable on North American PS3s and SAs.
City of Women Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Federico Fellini's City of Women has suffered the same fate most of Tinto Brass' films have - it has been wildly misunderstood. This isn't surprising because unless one knows Italian culture, and specifically the history of the complex relationship between Italian men and women, one would almost certainly have a difficult time deconstructing its message. Together with La dolce vita, 8½, and Juliet of the Spirits, I consider City of Women one of Fellini's best films. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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