» » Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976)

Short summary

Casanova is a libertine, performing seductions and sexual feats. But he is really interested in someone, and is he really an interesting person? Is he really alive?

Donald Sutherland, who wore a prosthetic nose and chin, shaved off the front part of his hair, once telling a laughing crowd "When Fellini says get a hair cut, you get a hair cut."

Federico Fellini had to re-shoot parts of this movie, including the elaborate Venice carnival scene, when several reels of film were stolen at the Technicolor labs of Rome, on August 17, 1975. Some reels of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Die 120 Tage von Sodom (1975) and Damiano Damiani's spaghetti western Nobody ist der Größte (1975) were also stolen. Apart from the re-shoots, this theft also forced Fellini to abandon a sequence featuring Barbara Steele. The negatives were found again in May 1976.

When it was completed, Federico Fellini thought it was his best film, and was inevitably heartbroken when it was not critically received in America.

The sea in the film was created from cut-up black trash-bags; Federico Fellini wanted to put high emphasis on the plasticity of Casanova's life and journey.

The distributors considered Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Al Pacino and Robert Redford for the role of Casanova. Federico Fellini refused to cast any of them.

Donald Sutherland credits Federico Fellini's Das Lied der Straße (1954) as one of his best and the reason he knew Fellini was a genius.

One of two Casanova movies in theaters around 1977. The movies were Fellinis Casanova (1976) and Hilfe, ich bin eine männliche Jungfrau (1977).

Discussing his role in the Getty-kidnap TV drama "Trust" Sutherland recalled filming Casanova in Italy during this period of high-profile kidnappings by the Mafia. He had to be driven to and from the studio wearing a white bag on his head to preserve his anonymity, and later discovered that the producer had bought kidnapping insurance for him but did not tell him at the time as that was a condition of the policy.

This was Federico Fellini's first film in English.

Federico Fellini was a great admirer of the work of French artist Jean Giraud and named the character of Mario Cencelli Moebius in his honor.

Federico Fellini thought that Casanova was an evil character because "he did not love." The original script was very brutal on the historical figure. It wasn't until Fellini shot the scene of Casanova and the nun that he began to sympathize with Casanova's inability to love, giving him the character of the mechanical doll and the dream ending.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Kakashkaliandiia
    I totally disagree with the critical trend of discrediting Fellini's later films as symptomatic of his decline. Instead, I believe that Fellini's last films were actually his best. And Casanova, by far Fellin's worst reviewed film, is Fellin's masterpiece-- a sad, funny, wistful, grotesque, Rabelisian epic of a film.

    In a way, Casanova is a foil to Fellini's earlier classic La Dolce Vita-- the main difference being that the former is more pessimistic in tone, while the latter is enfused with a youthful optimism. In a way, that's how the films of Fellini have progressed; his earlier films were filled with an almost child-like love for life (albeit with some very dark edges), while his later films became increasingly darker and more depressing. Strangely enough, Fellini's later films were also his best, both on a technical level, and in terms of thematic depth.

    Casanova is not only the story of a man, it is also about a whole era-- an era of grand opulence and grand waste. Like in many of Fellini's other films, the protagonist of Casanova serves as a guide for us through a phantasmagoric carnival-like world. Casanova is depicted as a sexually-ravenuous, and deeply cynical man. He is constantly searching for some kind of image of the perfect woman-- an ideal which eventually leads to his own destruction.

    Casanova is not a film for everyone-- despite having the usual Fellinisque scenes of ribaldry, Casanova is for the most part slowly paced (it reminds me of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon). Ultimately, Casanova, like Fellini's And the Ship Sails On, is about the passing of a golden age into oblivion. One leaves Casanova feeling both depressed, and yet somehow hopeful. Why?

    Perhaps because like all great artists, Fellini realizes that in our darkest hours, we still can hold on to our memories of happier times.
  • comment
    • Author: snowball
    I think this movie has been misunderstood. I have only seen it once and that was in 1978 or so. I had to write a paper about it for an art class so I paid very good attention. I think the theme had to do with loss. He lost every woman he loved starting with the statue that sank in the river. The odd circus woman, and the circus, vanished. The film was most unusual but beautiful - each scene a painting. The scenes and even the story line linger still in my mind. I have not been able to see the film again but would love to to get more insight into the many and various subtleties. The metronome for one was interesting. To me one gage of a good film is one that lingers on in your mind for years. This one qualifies.
  • comment
    • Author: Qumen
    Casanova is bawdy historical speculation, metaphysical farce, sensual overload, ironic critique of Enlightenment values. It has everything you expect from Fellini - visual clutter; dislocated tonal shifts; childish slapstick in an epic framework; Dionysian outbursts; gaudy sets; ludicrous costumes; messy gags; philosophical ruminations; European picaresque; unforgiving seas; dwarves; arm-wrestling giant princesses; aristocratic orgies; butlers and their catamites; mechanical dolls; hunchbacks and nuns in heat; mocking, otherworldly Nino Rota music; squalid grandeur; sex contests; mists of abyss; noise; the terrifying silences behind the noise. The defiance of realism is total. Just because a film isn't very original, doesn't mean it isn't worthy. Or, more importantly, great fun.

    Anyone expecting, from the title, Tinto Brass 70s-style Euro-art-porn, will be very disappointed. There is precious little nudity, and the sex is ludicrous. This farcical treatment is in keeping with one of Fellini's main themes. Casanova is among the most famous names in history, a readily recognisable identity, the epitome of male endeavour and virility. And yet Fellini's concern is with the dissolution of identity, the loss of power in masculinity, the subsuming of the (usually artistic) individual in the crowd and chaos. From I Vitelloni on, and especially in the Mastroianni films, the male hero is passive, powerless, a pinball to fate. Many Fellini films burst into confusing crowd activity, the audience lost without a point of identification.

    Unlike Mosjoukine's amiable and active 1928 Casanova, Donald Sutherland's is not the stud of reputation, but a pompous, long-winded bore, whose sexual technique is uninventive and monotonous. Like Don Giovanni, another legend who fails to live up to it, Casanova uses sex to ward off death, only to realise that the two are terminally linked. Forever hoping to dine with great men of letters, he is always caught in the straitjacket of his myth, and of history's sexual representations. He is the embodiment of the Enlightenment, a multifaceted Renaissance man - poet, philosopher, chemist, inventor etc - but Fellini profoundly mistrusts Enlightment values. His 18th century is not that of Diderot and Voltaire, but a continuation of Satyricon - a bestial murk where appetite, confusion and cruelty reign. History doesn't change: there is no progress, man is unimprovable - the Enlightenment was wrong.

    Casanova, despite his idealistic assertions, is not a being ruled by mind, controlling his destiny, but a puppet tossed about by whim and chance. There is very little light here, much shadow and fog. Casanova's accomplishments are mocked - his poetry is ridiculous; his aphorisms banal. His intellect cannot triumph over the age so he must go mad. And, appropriately, he finds a little happiness in insanity.

    Casanova is a very messy film - frustrating, sloppy, continually denying momentum. Scenes often seem not to fit, actors in key moments lack synchronicity. Yet this confusion fits the film's theme, which rejects Casanova's ironical asceticism in favour of life in all its repulsive, topsy-turvy variety. It is a melancholy film, but also very, very funny.
  • comment
    • Author: Dori
    Fellini needs no recommendations. He's the Magician. And Sutherland is one of a few. Plus, he diaries of Casanova are on of the most inspirational literature works of the last centuries. These alone are sufficient. But Casanova of Fellini is something more. As Fellini feels awe (fear and worship at the same time) for women, he degrades men. From Satyricon to the City of Women men appear to surrender, give up their role and the force they once exerted over the other sex. As he deals with the story of his compatriot, Giacomo Casanova, the emblematic womanizer, he lets emerge a tragic figure, a man prisoner of his dubious reputation, a solitary creature that crawls on patios and lounges of prerevolutionary Europe, among degenerated monarchs and nobles who don't understand what is to come and have fun until boredom, The wretched Fellini hero tries to survive sometimes as stallion, sometimes as metaphysical guru and . Trying to ascend socially, he keeps falling, ending his days in a kitchen of a German lord having dinner with the servants who taunt him. He, the greater lover, finally makes love with a doll. (amazing scene). Fellini stays faithful to the text, far away from the beautification of those who grappled with this story, and Sutherland interprets one of the most tragic heroes in the cinema of the 20th century.
  • comment
    • Author: Qulcelat
    Federico Fellini's Casanova is quite an extraordinary film.I watched it just yesterday,late at night,and I felt charmed.Yes,it looks weird and you hardly understand what it's exactly about,but that's not the point.This film appears to be something like a dream.It's like a string of images which you cannot link using your reason.The atmosphere is magical.You can sense the corruption,the craziness in all those wild parties,the desire for pleasures that hides inside the socially repressed people of that time.Even the music by Nino Rota is weird,but it's hauntingly beautiful and it makes the whole film look like a real dream.The sounds have the power to hypnotize you.That's evident from the start.

    Clearly,a piece of art.The vision of Casanova in the director's mind.A man obsessed with the female.A man in love with women in general.A man who always looks for the perfect woman.He falls in love too easily,but love always flies from out his arms,leading him to self-destruction.Until he ends up with a doll.The perfect woman.Flawless beauty.Plus,he won't be deserted.You get the sense that he's crazy,that the whole film is crazy,actually.But then you think that it's a dream and you're acting in it,too.Hypnotization...A faraway land,a faraway world.
  • comment
    • Author: Rleillin
    It is a common misconception that Fellini became worthless after his grand-masterpiece 8 ½, with most critics dismissing all but Amarcord as lightweight, over-blown odes to pretension, not fit to hold a candle to the low-key delights of La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, etc. Though it's true to say that Fellini's interest in "straight" cinema post-8 ½ did wane slightly, with films like Juliet of the Spirits, Roma, Satyricon and The City of Women all substituting character depth and clear storytelling for grand gestures and theatrical stylisation, there were at least a few of his later films that have aged surprisingly well and can, in some respects, be viewed in hindsight as being as interesting and artistically relevant as those earlier, more acclaimed works.

    Casanova is one such film, as far as I'm concerned. Certainly, the film can be seen as excessive in the most self-indulgent way possible, what with the stylised set-design, reliance on theatricality, over-the-top performances, and all manner of outrageously comedic, wildly frivolous, fornication. Fellini carefully mixes the highbrow (discussions of art, philosophy and the notions of freewill) with the lowbrow (clowns, carnivals, sex contests and the kind of innuendos usually reserved for Benny Hill), structuring his film in a highly episodic fashion so that it (at times) feels more like a collection of scenes as opposed to one long cohesive films (though, having said that, pretty much all of Fellini's later films were defined by their episodic structures). It certainly won't be a film that every one will appreciate. The middle-part of the film (in which Casanova falls in with the carnival set and the seductive giantess) drags a little, whilst younger audiences might find some of the more earnest scenes laughable (the ending is particularly touching).

    Like all of Fellini's films from La Dolce Vita on, the cinematic design is absolutely impeccable, with the director creating his usual (or should that be unusual?) fantasia of abstract architecture, theatrical lighting and seas made of shimmering sheets of plastics, in which he drops characters chosen more for their physical look and presence, rather than their acting ability. This adds to the overall dreamlike (or nightmarish) atmosphere that the film seems to play on, with the only real anchor to the story found in the humanistic performance of Donald Sutherland as the titular anti-hero. Now, before anyone starts to question the casting of Sutherland - instead visualising a Heath Ledger type of blonde locks and rippling muscles - it is important to note Fellini's obsessions with the grotesque; in both the physical and the mental. His image of Casanova is of a lanky, gaunt, balding buffoon, who peers down his jagged roman nose at the intellectual cretins who are supposedly his equals. He's strangely reminiscent of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons, what with the whole look and attitude, but... instead of letting him becoming yet another Fellini-esquire caricature, Sutherland allows shades of depth and humanity to permeate the arrogant and pompous exterior.

    So, on the one hand, we have Casanova as a pompous, strutting, impotent grotesque, but on the other hand, we also have a man capable of intellectual discussion, poetic thought and moments of intense loneliness. After two hours of epic spectacle, painterly visuals and more slapstick sex than you can shake a 'Confessions Of...' at, we begin to see what Fellini intended with his depiction of Casanova, with the underlining concept of unrequited love and the notion of sex and death, sex as loneliness (etc) and the ultimate downfall of a man who'd built his entire reputation on lust and virility slowly brought down by the ravages of old age and the scorn of a younger generation. The most touching scene in the film for me - and the entire reason as to why I view Casanova as a minor-masterpiece - comes towards the final act of the film, when the aging Casanova breaks off from a rowdy dinner engagement and finds himself alone with a mechanical ballerina. Consumed by a deep desire for the marionette, which reminds him of a lost love from the past, Casanova watches the doll dance and twirl and states that something so beautiful should be spared the indignity of seduction... however, he later sleeps with the doll, ultimately beginning the downward spiral that will bring us to the end of the film.

    The final scenes of Casanova are very vague, and I'm certainly not going to pretend that understood everything that Fellini was trying to say. Ultimately, the film worked for me because I understood what the director was trying to say in regards to unrequited love and I felt that Sutherland's performance (certainly one of the most neglected performances he gave in the 70's) managed to undercut the more over-bearing elements of Fellini's direction, and gave us a real character filled with pain, fear and emotional contradiction. The pace and structure of the film and the idea of a central character as a writer telling the story as it unfolds is reminiscent of La Dolce Vita, something that other viewers and critics have pointed out elsewhere, with the idea that the two films are merely different variations on the same story.

    The film is flawed, without question, but at the same time I find it absolutely fascinating and beautifully put together. It's appeal will no doubt be limited by the theatricality of the design and the stark, caricatured performances, though I feel the film will, regardless, appeal to those viewers who appreciated the director's other key-works from the same era, particularly that nightmarish cornucopia of excess, Satyricon, the free-form reminisces of the picaresque Amarcord, and the grand-allegory of ...And the Ship Sails On. It's also worth a look for Sutherland's central performance as the libidinous wretch, and for anyone who appreciates difficult, highly-visual, European cinema.
  • comment
    • Author: Dawncrusher
    I have but one question: Why in the name of all that we call the cosmos is this film not available on DVD (or even VHS)? It is far superior and reflects much more the times and life of Casanova than the Chamberlain film that trudged its way from start to finish. Casanova was an eighteenth-century intellectual, an intellectual with very definite proclivities for womanizing. Fellini knew his subject and the many places where his subject found himself in a lifetime of incredible sights, sounds and adventures. Get this film out of the closet, dust it off and let us have the very positive experience of enjoying it in the sanctity of our own homes. It has been too long on ice. Someone "out there", get off your duff and let us have one of Fellini's best works.
  • comment
    • Author: Folsa
    Giacomo Casanova is a writer, a wit and an aesthete. Venturing out from his native Venice and passing through the hedonistic capitals of Europe, he seeks to be recognised for his manifold and self proclaimed talents in the higher arts. But in his reckless wanderings, Casanova comes to realise that all anyone is interested in are his sexual escapades. Fellini called this film his masterpiece...

    Fellini called Casanova his masterpiece. It is. However, that does not make it easy viewing, nor does it make a whole lot of narrative sense. Casanova is very much a film that requires its audience to feel rather than to think, and what is more, promises to leave them unmoved. It is a brave filmmaker who desires to pull off such a feat and a rare filmmaker that succeeds. A compelling film. PE
  • comment
    • Author: Vuzahn
    One of Fellini's more coherent and conventional films. Though I could hardly bear Satyricon, I consider "Casanova" one of the best films of all time.

    The surreal nightmare world of Casanova's lost wanderings of the obscure cities of 15th century Europe comes alive and his willing enslavement to his own lust given free reign, in sex scenes which are only disturbing, could leave you wondering if you would be any different given the same freedoms. A frightening but hauntingly beautiful and poetic film. Fellini's lush cinematography was never better. The best role of Donald Sutherland's career- his performance is simply amazing.
  • comment
    • Author: Adrielmeena
    A beautiful and melancholic film. I've seen it only now, in a special exhibition on cinema, for the first time. Worth the while. Funny, I also used to prefer the earliest Fellini, but this film makes me, at least in this case, rethink my position. It is clear, anyway, that after 8 1/2 he could only go this way - towards a progressive abandonment of any kind of mimetic "realism".

    For those that find this film "strange", I suggest to start with the early Fellini (Lo Sceicco Bianco, La Strada. Cabiria) and go more or less in order, it will probably make more sense. Or not.
  • comment
    • Author: Kalrajas
    Fellini's Casanova (1976)

    Giacomo Casanova (Donald Sutherland) was a bit of a lad. He loved the ladies. His life was a collection of sexual escapades that whilst initially fulfilling left him feeling empty and bereft as an individual. Acclaimed director Federico Fellini's film follows Casanova through his various adventures in 18th century Europe.

    We first meet the charlatan as he entertains an unseen voyeur by defiling a fake nun. Once the act has reached its climax Casanova does his utmost to impress the rich, and still unseen, voyeur by recounting his interest in alchemical research. He soon realises that he is talking to himself, literally, and leaves.

    Upon arriving back on the mainland he is arrested and imprisoned for his catalogue of debauchery. He soon escapes and travels around Europe. From an aged woman looking to have her soul transformed into that of a man, through sex to Casanova, to cuddling up with a mechanical woman Fellini's Casanova is episodic and surreal.

    This is cinema as art rather than entertainment but that's not to say that Casanova fails to entertain within its artistic confines. Touching upon religion, death, spiritualism, and intellectualism and, of course, sexuality Fellini drew upon the aspects of Italian society that both appalled and intrigued him with little regard to historical accuracy. Director Federico Fellini's Casanova is an exquisite feast for the senses that threatens to become more style than substance if it wasn't for the hugely charismatic performance of Donald Sutherland.

    Adapted from the autobiography of Giacomo Casanova, the 18th Century adventurer and writer Fellini's masterpiece is by turns dazzling, funny and bewitching. What is even more astonishing is learning that the entire film was shot on stage – the Cinecittà studios in Rome – a monumental achievement in set and production design. Little touches such as the turbulent sea Casanova rows upon made up of black plastic sheets add to what Fellini felt was the plasticity of Casanova's life.

    Original producer Dino De Laurentiis had Robert Redford in mind for the lead, but then more often than not, De Lauentiis was very rarely right in his choices (one only has to look at his career CV as a producer to see what we mean). Paul Newman, Al Pacino and Marlon Brando were also considered. Fellini refused the notion of Redford as his film's lead and, after breaking from De Laurentiis as producer Fellini, cast Donald Sutherland instead, having the actor shave the front part of his hair and don a prosthetic nose and chin.

    Dreamlike and consistently enthralling Fellini's flick encompasses an individual that the noted director disliked intensely however in shooting his script he found some empathy for his lead character. He amended his initially brutal treatment of Casanova in his script focusing instead on the man's inability to love despite falling in love too easily - the inclusion of the mechanical doll and dream ending were his compensation for this.

    Magical and absorbing from start to finish Fellini considered this film to be his masterpiece. He was heartbroken when the film failed to be received critically in the States. This is inconceivable! Each and every frame of the film is abundant in detail and colour, truly ravishing to behold. It's not difficult to see why Danilo Donati was awarded an Academy Awrd for Best Costume Design. Fellini regular Nina Rota composed the score that initially grates a little but becomes more haunting and enchanting as the story unfolds. An embarrassment of riches Fellini's Casanova demands your attention and deserves repeated viewings. In case you've missed it, we really liked it.

    Check out more of my reviews at
  • comment
    • Author: Keth
    This is actually my very favorite movie of all time. And that is odd as I distinctly was disappointed with it when I first saw it. But it has grown on me over the years. Don't see this movie thinking you'll have lightweight porn from the Ancien Regime era. This is anti porn; Casanova's amours fill Fellini with disgust and contempt as do his intellectual pretensions. I've read that the entire movie is a condemnation of the Enlightenment which Fellini depicts as a fiasco. Casanova's tireless travels also serve Fellini well as a stage for his Italocentric racism. Every race in Europe is heavily lampooned; Hungarians,the Spanish, the French, the English, and most contemptible of all, the Germans. Distinctions are even drawn clearly between the racial and cultural differences between Venetians and Romans and Savoyards...

    This is Fellini's last great movie. After this he seemed to get so disgusted with the modern world that he withdrew intellectually; you see this a lot in older men. They turn away then they get out of touch. After Casanova you get City of Women and Fred and Ginger. They're all terrible, very sad to see the decrepitude of a great talent. But in Casanova we can see the great man at the very pinnacle of his powers. And even the the utmost squalour there are great beauties here to admire, for Fellini loves the visual world and expresses it in film with the most original cinematography and the most wonderful stage sets. If you can find it on DVD letterbox format don't miss buying it.
  • comment
    • Author: Silverbrew
    "Il Casanova" is probably far from being considered one of Fellini's best works, but it still undoubtedly a very entertaining, funny, visually beautiful film that tells various stories from Giacomo Casanova's life in a Fellini's manner, of cause. Co-written by Fellini himself like probably all of his other movies, this one enjoys a pretty good, witty script, that was even Oscar nominated. The film went on to win an Academy Award in a Best Costume Design category in 1976. I found it a real pleasure watching from beginning to the end, although it is not on the same level of perfection as "La Dolce Vita" or 8 1/2, Il Casanova still has a strong touch of Fellini's genius.

    Highly recommendable. 9/10
  • comment
    • Author: Akir
    Fellini's Casanova might not make complete sense. In fact, I'm not sure if it does: constantly I am asking myself what he is trying to display with some of the butchered dialogue and strange, often comical situations. But in the end, none of that matters. Like all Fellini films, Casanova is a long, filmic journey that seems to drag, lacking any real drive; but, isn't that the point? Casanova himself is a selfish playboy who has no idea where he is going, and ultimately fails in any goals he might have (besides a sex-contest).

    The film opens with a masquerade in Venice, where even the crowned woman herself, the queen, cannot make an appearance for the Casanova. The masked guests are crazed with excitement as a man is launched into the sea (I presume he drowns in the sea of women). Already we can feel the morality of a great Italian society plummeting. This theme is very well presented throughout the film. The best example could be the nun who gives a show to her boss along with Casanova (equipt with his "supercock" music box, whose off-key tunes and obvious display of sexual arousal is disturbing). Continually, Admist an abandon opera house, a beautiful scene of Casanova's inadequacy with his own mother is presented as he carries her over his back. "I'm sorry mother, I don't understand German much. What were you saying?" "You don't understand, or you don't want to understand?" Although this is much later in the movie, it explains Casanova's inability to love (as Fellini believed your first real love was for your mother). Throughout Casanova's travels, he admires certain qualities in the many women he thinks he loves: Henriette, Anna Maria, Isabella. Each of them embody the perfect woman, at least, at the time. It is not until much later in the film when he finally finds the woman of his dreams: a plastic, mechanical doll. The effect is jarring, chilling, and genius. But no matter who the woman was, his "love" always resorted in sex, both times, the women being completely out of it, and unconscious for the experience.

    The final scene may be the greatest every filmed by Fellini (on par with the ending of 8½). It opens with Sutherland, a much older loner whose selfishness has for once caught up with him, dwelling on a dream he had. As a younger Casanova walks along a path of blue ice (complimenting his ice-like eyes), he chases the slowly dissolving image of the women he thought to love. As soon as he sees the mechanical doll, he embraces her, and leads her in a dance. The two spin on the ice, while Casanova himself resembles that of the plastic doll, his own superficial sexuality externalized.
  • comment
    • Author: Agalas
    In a way this is the disaster Fellini has been working towards all his life. The line between absurd masterpiece and free association bullshit is very small, and what category a film will ultimately fit in will often just depend on personal feelings. That said, "Casanova" left me in cold admiration for its sets and little more that cannot be summed up more adequately by Bukowski:

    "Casanova died too, just an old guy with a big cock and a long tongue and no guts at all. to say that he lived well is true; to say I could spit on his grave without feeling is also true. the ladies usually go for the biggest fool they can find; that is why the human race stands where it does today: we have bred the clever and lasting Casanovas, all hollow inside, like the Easter bunnies we foster upon our poor children."

    As far as I could make it out, this is the position Fellini takes regarding his subject; granted, with more empathy, but disgusted nonetheless.

    Casanova's environment is made from decay and incestuous behavior, themes Fellini dealt with more pointedly in "Satyricon". The succession of plot is characteristic of soft porn, just without the coherence; and Donald Sutherland is ugly and slimy to the point of distraction.

    Yet, there might just be a point in portraying Casanova as an unsightly fool. And I challenge anybody to formulate this point without being obvious; Fellini couldn't. More than ever he seems here like a dirty old man - a maestro, for sure, but one whose impulses satisfy himself more than anybody else. I find it hard imagine an audience who enjoys this film. It was a story not worth telling.
  • comment
    • Author: caif
    If you have ever found yourself watching a movie like Emmanuelle and thinking: "This would be great if it were an 18th century costume drama with less nudity and enough nightmarish surrealism to make even David Lynch weep for mercy," then this is the movie for you.

    Donald Sutherland plays the infamous Count Fucula, a man who tries to have sex with everything he sees that resembles a female, and whose sexual technique generally consists of laying on top of a woman and bouncing up and down on her like he's humping a trampoline - and all without ever even taking off his pants!

    Short girls, tall girls, blonde girls, brunettes, girls with hunchbacks, female robots.. you name it, he tries to screw it. At one point, I thought he was going to try to make it with a giant turtle. A missed opportunity, if you ask me.

    Until now, I thought Satyricon was the weirdest Fellini ever got, but this one makes it look square in comparison.
  • comment
    • Author: GoodBuyMyFriends
    Fellini's cinematic vitality was undeniably on the ebb in his later years of filmmaking, and when a director's name can blatantly headline in the film's title, a common demonstration is that he has the autocratic power over his work without any compromise, so it is a good sign for the director's devotees, but sometimes, it is also prone to backfire often due to the auteur's unbridled ego. And FELLINI'S CASANOVA is an exemplar of both cases.

    Fellini is quite antipathetic towards his center figure, the Venetian gadabout Giacomo Casanova, maybe partly originates from jealousy, it is a man who is an emblem of libidinal licentiousness (with women), any heterosexual man has the right to be envious.

    So loosely based on Casanova's autobiography HISTOIRE DE MA VIE, Fellini unleashes his uncurbed visual creativity to conjure up a series of spectacular mise-en-scène with a hankering for irony and symbolism, often in the form of a theatric piece. The opening gambit, a Carnival in Venice, is onerously undertook to be stupendous and eye-opening, and it is really hard to resist the enthralling allure in Casanova's each and every episode, sex activity is presumably the norm in it, but his on-screen virility brings some visual fatigue pretty soon (due to an R rating) and his action fades into mechanical repetition (certainly, the change of head-wear is a great diversion). After all, the avant-garde production design (using plastic bags to imitate a choppy sea), the 18th Century exquisite art decoration (whether accurate or not), the outlandish period costumes and flamboyant make-up (especially during the lavish banquet set) usurp the crown as the legitimate attention-grabber. With garnishment like Nino Rota's stirring score and literature reference such as Tonino Guerra's La Grande Mouna, 2 hour and 35 minutes is not that long at all.

    It is also a career-defining role for Donald Sutherland, although never really being heralded (so does his lengthy and unceasing career), under some visage alteration (a fake nose and a shaved head) his Casanova is not devilishly handsome, may not even physically resemble his character, but he exerts his devotion thoroughly through his bulged eyes, which fixate on his preys with torrid resolution, simultaneously sinister and passionate. Fellini is in no mood to give Casanova a hagiography treatment, so chiefly, Sutherland's effort has been unfairly debased to ridicule and grandstanding, Casanova is much more than a womanizer who is unable to love, willfully, Fellini refuses to disclose the other side of his life, such as a bold adventurer and a luminous writer.

    Female objects are never the focal point of the film, they are the objects of desire in the menagerie for our hormone-driven protagonist to conquer with intercourse, only the Angelina the giantess (Sandra Elaine Allen) and Rosalba the mechanical doll (Leda Lojodice) shed dim light on certain pathos for the fate of Casanova besides their eye-popping presence.

    Altogether, FELLINI'S CASANOVA is majestic on scale, burlesque on appearance, biased in its stance, but never an awkward anomaly in Fellin's absurdist cannon.
  • comment
    • Author: Vetalol
    While Don Juan and Lothario are literary constructs, entirely fictional, Giacomo Casanova like De Sade {15 years his junior} was a flesh and blood historically verifiable person. Casanova was born in Venice 286 years ago in 1725 and he died 73 years later in 1798 having witnessed the fall of the Age of Decadence and the transformation brought by the French Revolution. That his name is synonymous to this day with the successful pursuit of sexual conquest is due to the fact that Casanova was a great writer who recorded his life in a 12 volume opus titled "The Story of my Life". This episodic work of literature apparently describes in detail Casanova's amorous victories on the sexual battlefield claiming and describing the seduction of at least 120 different woman.

    Fellini, the year after Pasolini made his illustration of De Sade's literary perversity in Salo, brought this illustration of some of the episodes of Casanova's sexual exploits. The movie opens with the masked Carnival depicting Venus, {the goddess after whom Venice was named} rising out of the sea as her ancient Greek source goddess Aphrodite did before her. The masking of the revellers was an encouragement for the participants to ignore class differences and thus increase the scope of orgiastic interaction sponsored by the patron goddess of Love, Venus,

    A masked man receives a letter proposing an assignation on an island palace with a woman masquerading as a nun, Casanova, revealed to us as a Dandy in extravagant attire of opulent and decadent fashion. Although historically dark haired Fellini portrays Donald Sutherland, {with false nose and jaw}, as a convincing Casanova, a foppishly ringletted blonde. As this is a cinematic examination of the life and technique of one of the most outrageous ladies man in modern history, the viewer is immediately introduced to Giacomo's modus operandi or seduction formulae. Casanova is not a bully but is much more adept at exploiting female gullibility with poetic declarations of deep and undying love which he combined with his peacockish appearance and intimate confessions of ardent desire and you have the story of his life in a nutshell, Other attributes that also helped garner his reputation was the reputed size of his penetrative organ and the athleticism of his ability to maintain sexual intercourse for long extended periods with an economy of repeated but unvaried thrusts leading eventually to orgasm. This delaying technique similar to "karezza" and tantric practices helped spread the name of Casanova as the ultimate stud of all time.

    Apart from his reputation as a sexual libertine Casanova was eloquent and funny. The ability to make people laugh has always had aphrodisiac stimulation. After the conquest of the pseudo-nun Casanova has success with a neurotic young girl whom he cures from constantly fainting with a dose of sex magic. In a later episode we are introduced to the soirée' of Madame D'Urfee who believes that impregnation by Casanova would lead to the passing of her soul to a male child and then onto immortality. Casanova had performance problems with her as she was an ancient wrinkly and his ability to raise an erection had to be assisted by one of his lovers who had to amusedly stand by his side and wiggle her rear in order to facilitate his potency. It worked and Casanova made off with one of the many fortunes he made and lost during a life of spontaneous and opportunistic self-invention.

    Among the most memorable set pieces that Fellini orchestrates is a wonderful dance in exquisite costume at the dinner provided by the hunchback and a young male ballerina. The costumes throughout the movie are fantastic. After the dance Casanova voices his disagreement with the notion that the male is the tempter. Henrietta, his lover at the time {played by the gorgeous Tina Aumont} is to leave him in one of the great blows he suffered in his sexual adventures. She managed to bring some sense of emotional loss which went beyond Casanova's usual rhetorical protestations of besotted love.

    The Nino Roti score of sad music box lament and Casanova's most prized possession - his phallic winged mechanical toy which like a metronome allowed Casanova to keep a steady thrust. Apart from overwhelming woman with the false flattery of his supposed personal interest Casanova also reveals in the sex competition at the Prince Del Brand's Palace that he has an energy drink containing raw eggs and ginger and cinnamon, which he uses to keep his erection for up to an hour.

    What happens to the ageing Casanova hundreds of years before the coming of Viagra? In Freud's theory the sexual energy with no capacity for expression becomes channeled to more productive outlets. In Casanova's case his last 12 years were spent writing and revising his major work "The Story of my Life"

    Fellini chose to give the mood of the movie a certain disappointment as if Casanova was never satisfied and always a depressive in nature, but this does not make sense, as it stands to reason that as a young man part of Casanova's attraction was as a bon vivant, raucous, bawdy, randy and full of life. However the movie is styled as Fellini's Casanova and the odyssey it depicts - the life of Casanova - has been described as the greatest autobiography ever written.

    That such a man existed is historical proof that some men are closer to the gods than anyone else. Fellini gives you sumptuousness and thought, {it is reputedly Fellini's personal favorite of all his oeuvre}. However, Bunuel on viewing the movie walked out before the end. I found it interesting as a working study of satyriasis and nymphomania which are fields rarely examined by auteurs.
  • comment
    • Author: Oreavi
    In Fellini's Casanova, the viewer follows the legendary seducer, played by a young Donald Sutherland, jumping through several episodes in his life, in a whirlpool of memories, impressions and sex. This film is a journey that takes us to a Venetian prison, to French palaces, to a London frost fair and to the Swiss Alps. And the people Casanova meets, from a giant woman to dwarfs, from magicians to artists, are amazing. It's Federico Fellini's vision of Giacomo Casanova's life and it's completely unique.

    The film's themes aren't love or the art of seduction, as the name Casanova tends to evoke, but lust and desire as basic human urges. Fellini didn't like Casanova; for the Italian filmmaker he was just a soulless lover, a greedy social climber interested only in adding points to his score of amorous conquests and serving the nobility. So viewers will only find a sex machine moving from coitus to coitus, with little concern for the women he beds.

    The narrative, like in many of this director's films, is fragmentary, and Fellini and his co-screenwriter, Bernardino Zapponi, freely adapted Casanova's autobiography. In defense of Fellini, though, Giacomo Casanova's The Story of My Life contains around 3,500 pages, so a few cuts were necessary. Of course in a Fellini film the narrative isn't as important as the visuals and the way each scene is constructed. Visually, this is a beautiful movie. It's not only a masterful achievement by costume designer Danilo Donati, who deservedly won an Oscar for his work here; it's also unique because of the stylistic choices Fellini employs. For instance, for a scene of Casanova rowing in a little boat in the middle of a sea storm, Fellini chose to use black plastic sheets to replace the water; this choice may seem meaningless until we realize that artifice, appearances and illusions are running themes.

    Another interesting stylistic choice is the way Fellini shoots exterior scenes. Usually landscapes are covered in mist or snow, the sun barely visible. Our vision is limited to the foreground while the horizon remains hazy. By contrast, the interior scenes, the magnificent ballrooms, gardens and bed-chambers, where most of the action takes place, are exuberant, a sensory overload of colors, sounds, shapes and movements.

    Donald Sutherland, one of the most underrated living actors, shines as Casanova. He is practically unrecognizable here: with his hair cut, wearing a prosthetic chin and nose, and covered in make-up, Sutherland displays a strange, androgynous look. He's also, apart from the women he seduces, the only handsome person in the film. Fellini must have handpicked the ugliest actors in the world to populate this film, who, with their rotten and missing teeth, wrinkled faces and long, sharp noses, are in total opposition to the beautiful world that surrounds them.

    The action takes place during the Enlightenment, but reason doesn't make an appearance here. What for some was one of the greatest eras of human achievement, for Fellini was an era of debauchery, aloofness and superstition. Suffice to say that an aristocratic woman asks Casanova to impregnate her so she can pass her soul, through a ridiculous pagan ritual, to the fetus. Casanova and his contemporaries are vapid people who believe they're exceptional. Only Casanova, gradually, loses his illusions and the ending is a moment of epiphany for the seducer who, aged, only has his memories to keep him company.

    There's a small caveat: Donald Sutherland's voice was originally dubbed by Italian actor Gigi Proietti, so his fans may want to look for a version that has the English audio. I wouldn't consider this a major loss, since this is one of those films where the dialogue is practically irrelevant. Sutherland's body language expresses a lot more than the platitudes his character tends to spout. But viewers used to actors' original voices may find this off-putting.

    Fellini's Casanova is long and requires more patience than attention. The narrative's aimlessness may quickly induce boredom if the viewer isn't used to Fellini's style. Fellini makes up for this by giving every sequence some humour and titillation (the sex scenes may not be the best but are certainly the funniest ever filmed for cinema). In this regard this movie is very similar to Amarcord, which also seems like an endless collection of unrelated gags. Perhaps this film isn't one of Federico Fellini's essential masterworks, like 8½ and La Dolce Vita, but it's a sexy, tragicomedy still capable of entertaining and inspiring awe.
  • comment
    • Author: Debeme
    Probably Fellini's last real masterwork. CASANOVA is visually stunning and features the truly bizarre casting choice of Donald Sutherland as the world's greatest lover. Somehow that works! It may have to do with the fact that the film is so stylized. Its studio sets and intentionally fake scenery and grotesquely opulent costumes make it possible to ignore the fact that Sutherland looks like a plucked chicken. Fellini's direction is among his most spirited...he's clearly having A LOT of fun. The sex scenes are comically overdone and the women Casanova beds are a rogues gallery of ghouls --- young, old and mechanical! Tina Aumont is, for all intent and purposes, the film's leading lady and she even she is off center...and looks like a slightly less gawky Shelley Duvall.
  • comment
    • Author: Black_Hawk_Down.
    And that's what I love about it, it's the true story of Casanova, an Rebellious Italian man who using his sexuality to find his place in life, the film does not contain LOADS of nudity, just many aspects of it. The film contains two midgets with a fat woman in a bathtub, a group sex involving many women in a revolving room, and silly make-up. It is truly a misunderstood and dark film; I couldn't recommend it more. I wish people would pay more attention to this film, for it is truly a masterpiece. It is a forgien film, yet you can understand with only the magnicent moving images throughout the cinematic mystery. So, yeah, I would give this film a 10/10, for many reasons
  • comment
    • Author: Envias
    It's certainly important to note that Fellini thought that the historical Casanova was a scumbag, a crook even a fascist. In his film, the character appears as a scatterbrained, melancholic, mechanical tragic figure: like a marionette, a Pinocchio who never turned into a human. The story starts in Venice, Casanova's home town, with a Fellinesque carnival scene, where a statue of Venus is pulled out of the canal. This effigy with its protuberant, blue eyes is an equally powerful initial motif like the Christ figure in La dolce vita. And there we have the comparison: both films show similar dreary worlds of vices. Like Marcello, Casanova strays from one orgy to the next, screws around randomly. Donald Sutherland is remarkable, and it is intriguing to look at his unimpressed, incurious, lost soul wandering between the splendid masks and suits of the high society which makes Casanova basically another picaresque tale and like La dolce vita and Satyricon totally excessive in every aspect. And this shows Fellini's strength and weakness. The principal fault is probably the main protagonist himself. Casanova was not only a woman 'eater', but also a literarily educated man, mathematician and politician with knowledge in economy, science and occultism. Just like the French ambassador who watches the screen Casanova copulating, but leaves before he is about to say something, Fellini refuses the opportunity for the historical character to defend itself. The direction on the other hand is, as usual, masterful. What remains is a clinical, highly reserved character study, spectacular, but cheerless.
  • comment
    • Author: Love Me
    Casanova is one of my favorite films by Fellini. Besides some technical problems with dubbing Donald Sutherland's voice in Italian, the film provides an excellent portrait of the pre-French Revolution Europe. Casanova is an stallion, but is a reflective, philosophical, and critical stallion questioning the day's conventional wisdom especially when dealing with one of Fellini's favorite subjects: females and, up to a certain extinct, forcing Sutherland to do what only Marcello Mastroiani was able to do: to channel Fellini himself. I do not know the reasons why Fellini decided to give Sutherland a chance and I have to admit that Sutherland makes a great effort in playing the part. Seeing some available portraits of Casanova I can see the reasons, but one would expect Fellini to be beyond that kind of constraints. Perhaps Mastroiani was too busy (looking at was entry here in the IMDb I can see that he did 5 movies in 1976, so perhaps he was overbooked). To think of Mastroiani in this role is more intriguing when one considers the amazing rendition of the very Casanova in Ettore Scola's "La nuit de Varennes." In "La nuit..." Mastroiani plays an aging Casanova even with the odd French with a strong Italian accent that was a trademark of Casanova's charm in the may European courts where the Venetian philosopher (yes, he loved to think of himself as such). Beside these problems, the film provides a powerful critique of Europe during the 1970s, as Fellini is able to see the obvious parallelism between the 1970s and Europe in the pre-French Revolution era. The film, by the way, benefited by the then recent publication of Casanova's memoirs in a critical edition that challenged the then prevailing understanding of Casanova as a sex-pot, something that Casanova himself rejected as is possible to see in the scene of the party at the British ambassador house. After watching the movie one would think at Casanova as some sort of sex-mystic introducing in the then Enlightened West, notions about sexuality similar to those of tantric sex, although still clinging to a male-oriented understanding of sex. It is important to stress also that,despite the effort to follow Casanova's account of is life, his auto-biography is full of historical contradictions and inconsistencies.
  • comment
    • Author: Longitude Temporary
    There are two groups of people...those who love every Fellini movie they see and normal people. While I will admit that I have really enjoyed some of his films, I can also honestly say that I can't stand some of them. My opinion, by the way, is not just some knee-jerk reaction--I have seen most of Fellini's films and have also seen many films by the world's most famous directors. With this in mind, I feel that the most overrated and annoying directors can be both Godard and Fellini. They both have delighted in the bizarre and often unwatchable and yet have received gobs of accolades from reviewers and the "intelligensia", while the average person would never sit through some of their films. Heck, even a person who loves international cinema would generally be left out in the cold when seeing some of these films. So, since only a small clique actually watches their films and they are already predisposed to seeing the directors as geniuses, it's not surprising that their films are so often praised--it's like a cult! If you don't believe me, think about many of Godard's films such as FIRST NAME CARMEN or ALPHAVILLE,...or what about FELLINI SATYRICON or JULIET OF THE SPIRITS? These films abound with boredom, weirdness and incomprehensibility. Now I am NOT saying a film can't be weird (after all I love HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS and SHAOLIN SOCCER), but it must be watchable!

    Now on to this movie. Somehow, Fellini has managed to make a story about a sexually compulsive man completely boring and unsexy. This is no small task--it took a lot of work to make this so unwatchable. Instead of cheap sexual thrills, the sex acts are choreographed in a silly and annoying way while the character of Casanova is buried under so much makeup and prosthetics that Donald Sutherland looks like a ghoul. I know some of this must have been Fellini's intention, but many viewers will be left completely bored by this sterile performance--especially since Sutherland's lines are all poorly dubbed into Italian and so he neither looks nor sounds like himself! Unfortunately, when the movie is not wrapped up in these boring sexual escapades, there really isn't anything else to watch.

    An interesting note about the first sexual conquest shown in this dull movie is that the actress looks amazingly like a younger version of Fellini's wife, Giulietta Masina. Considering that in addition to this, that in previous decades Fellini had Masina play characters such as a prostitute and a horribly abused woman, it seems like he may have truly hated his wife and was having this acted out on screen. I read a bit about them and their tempestuous relationship and it seems to bear this out as well. This is about the only aspect of this turgid film that I found at all interesting. Don't say I didn't warn you!
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Donald Sutherland Donald Sutherland - Giacomo Casanova
    Tina Aumont Tina Aumont - Henriette
    Cicely Browne Cicely Browne - Madame D'Urfé
    Carmen Scarpitta Carmen Scarpitta - Madame Charpillon
    Clara Algranti Clara Algranti - Marcolina
    Daniela Gatti Daniela Gatti - Giselda
    Margareth Clémenti Margareth Clémenti - Sister Maddalena (as Margareth Clementi)
    Olimpia Carlisi Olimpia Carlisi - Isabella
    Silvana Fusacchia Silvana Fusacchia - Isabella's sister
    Chesty Morgan Chesty Morgan - Barberina (scenes deleted)
    Leda Lojodice Leda Lojodice - Rosalba the Mechanical doll (as Adele Angela Lojodice)
    Sandra Elaine Allen Sandra Elaine Allen - Angelina the Giantess
    Clarissa Mary Roll Clarissa Mary Roll - Anna Maria
    Daniel Emilfork Daniel Emilfork - Marquis Du Bois (as Daniel Emilfork Berenstein)
    Luigi Zerbinati Luigi Zerbinati - Pope
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