Le Notti Bianche (1957) Poster

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Beautiful fairy tale from Visconti.
Ben_Cheshire28 June 2004
A mythic, Venice-like city is an appropriate backdrop for a film which must have greatly offended European critics at the time who had thought of Visconti as one of the pioneers of the new realism in Italian Cinema (and indeed with Ossessione and La Terra Trema, he was!). But with this film Visconti seems to have changed his idea of what he wants in a film: instead of the pursuance of realism at all costs, we have a dream-like fairy tale about fairy tales.

Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) meets Natalia (Maria Schnell) one night, and is entranced. But as they begin to talk, over a couple of nights, he falls in love with her, and realises that she is already in love with another man. Maria is obsessed with a fairy-tale man (Jean Cocteau's leading man Jean Marais), who up and left her a year ago without explanation and said he would return in a year, and if she still loved him, he would be there for her.

This film is evocative and beautiful - i'd love to see it in a clean theatrical print - especially the snow scenes at the end.

Its a very satisfying cinema experience, and one of Visconti's most beautiful films. 8/10.

Highlights: the dancing scene! Snow scenes are beautiful, but the dancing scene stands head and shoulders above the rest of the movie. Marcello is shy and introverted - he is sitting in a night club with dreamy Natalia. When couples start getting up and busting some very cool moves to Bill Haley and the Comets' Thirteen Women, Mario becomes nervous and starts talking to her about himself, talking around the fact that he's a shy person and doesn't like dancing and physical things... he likes dreaming, solitude... But when he sees how interested Natalia is by another man pulling some mean dance moves, things change. Great scene.
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Sad and exquisite
Gigi-8324 May 2004
"The white nights" is a very fragile exquisite tale based on story of Dostoievsky. With the images extremely beautiful it tells the story of an ordinary young man Mario, who met an unusual, like from another century girl, fell in love with her and almost made her fall in love too and then lost her forever. Here two different worlds collide unambiguously - the modern, cold, indifferent stylized world and the old, more intimate and hearty one, and this collision makes many ironical and sad situations. Mastroiani plays one of his best role and looks like a real melancholic looser, Shell is eccentric, touching and gentle with her little hat and ridiculous gorgette ( dresses made by Piero Tosi seems to be the another participants of performance, so nice and expressive they are). Marais seems imperturbable like always and looks very mysteriously, a kind of fatal personage, incarnation of doom. In general film is very nice, gently and by the end tear-wringing (that's not bad indeed) and Visconti with his talent of turning usual realistic details into symbolic made this story even more beautiful then in a book.
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Visconti and Dostoyevsky
jotix10017 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Most interesting movies come from short stories, as Luchino Visconti clearly demonstrates with his "Le Notti Bianchi". based on a tale by Dostoyevsky. The Russian atmosphere is cleverly transported to an Italian town in winter. The film is enhanced by Giuseppe Rotunno brilliant camera work in a movie that was shot entirely in a studio. In fact, the director salutes Cinecitta in the credits because he must have been completely amazed by the look of the end product.

The story deals with fantasy and reality. One night Mario, a young man, returns to town in a bus. He notices a distressed and beautiful woman who appears to be in the process of committing suicide by jumping from a bridge. Natalia, the young woman is living in despair because a man who conquered her heart has gone away with the promise he will be back in a year's time. Natalia, who at first doesn't respond to Mario, finds in him a kind soul, but her heart belongs to the man she waits for.

Marcello Mastroianni's Mario is fine. He was at one of the most interesting periods of his career when he worked in the picture. The best thing in the movie has to be the scene at the night club where he is trying to get Natalie to dance with him. He makes quite a spectacle of himself dancing to Bill Bailey and the Comets by himself while the other dancing couples admire him.

Maria Schell, coming from another school of acting, seems lost at times, as though overwhelmed by the Italian cast around her. Her Natalia has equal parts of sadness and innocence. Jean Marais, one of the best French actors of his generation is seen as the tenant who steals Natalia's heart. Clara Calamai, who had worked in "Ossessione" with Visconti has some excellent moments as a prostitute.

Nino Rota's atmospheric music blends well with the context of the film. Ultimately the success of "Le Notti Bianche" belongs to Luchino Visconti who saw greatness in the text by Dostoyevsky.
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about as moving a romantic drama can get; one of the best Dostoyevksy adaptations you'll likely see
Quinoa198422 April 2006
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a writer I've gotten into heavily recently, and I couldn't be happier to have seen Luchino Visconti's adaptation of his short story (not yet read by me) as the first. The very essential, human search for happiness with a one true love, that those who may not have much money may at least find some kind of relief from the world in each other's company, is at the heart of Dostoyevksy's stories. And while often filled with sorrow, decay, and with enough melodrama to sink a ship, this spirit is then given catharsis when the good that comes in through the dark times it's something to really cling to. Visconti has his own style already taking on Dostoyevsky's work, and I wondered going into it if the director of another great adaptation, Ossessione, could pull it off. For me, it may even be better than that film; Le Notti Bianche gives us characters who are not overly complicated or with nefarious desires. If anything, these are the kinds of characters that I wish were in movies more often, flaws and all.

Marcello Mastroianni is also, for me, a really pleasant surprise seeing him in this film. Regrettably the only films I've seen him in are the early ones he made with Fellini, where his persona is cool, detached, and he could do his ultra suave &/or depressed and unchained characters effortlessly. With the character of Mario, Mastroianni is playing just an ordinary guy, with a low paying job and nothing special going for him in life. But if nothing else he is what most women in real life would look for in men, with compassion, sensitivity, but also sensible and with some of the minor flaws of being a nice guy. With the character of Natalia, Mario meets a woman whom he falls for hard, and wants to see again after a chance encounter. Maria Schnell is perfect against Mastroianni, as she has that kind of face and look in her eye (for lack of a better comparison) of any given American melodrama, only a bit more genuine. She's basically been waiting, as she tells, for a year for the man who will whisk her away from all of her troubles. But will he? Will Mario come through on a letter? What happens through the course of an unsure night?

Visconti poises these two against a backdrop completely staged, brilliantly in fact, and shot by the great Giussepe Rotunno with the kind of visual splendor that in its own way is on par with Visconti's the Leopard. It's not filmed in the real world, and the melodrama in the film is that of a very cinematic- or maybe theatrical- nature, but because it's an ultimately believable one the atmosphere gets heightened. Topped with Nino Rota's elegant score, many a wide shot shows Mario and Natalia on their walks along the streets, and then the close-ups work just as well. Best of all is a quasi ice breaker of Visconti's by doing a dance number in a bar, adding a sweet, if dated, levity that acts as the last mark before the story turns, and turns some more. What drew me in most about Le Notti Bianchi is how Visconti makes this a story of pure emotions, but one that is not at all sappy or trashy or whatever. Like with many of Dostoyevsky's characters, even through their misguided wants and feelings and the sense of anguish that may come to them (or not), we care about them. If ever a director, who started in neo-realistic roots, took a 180 and made it just as dramatically satisfying, it's here. One of the best films of 1957.
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Strikingly beautiful
Sorsimus9 January 2002
Not so much a neo realist film but rather a dreamlike adaptation of a Dostoyevsky short story, this one is a beautiful story of a fairy tale romance and disappointment.

Mastroianni gives a wonderful performance as the third wheel on this love triangle. As he is the point of identification for the viewer, it is really difficult to say whether this one has a happy end or not...

Highly recommended especially for the ingenious combination of neo realist imagery and old world romantic storytelling.
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Interesting plot, genius directing
ambitten16 May 2005
This film is very good indeed. Visconti confirms what everybody knows: he is a master! The plot is based on a Dostoievski tale, where a love triangle is explored in the minimum psychological details. Actually, it shows the impact of a powerful passion on human behavior, it tries to explore the incredible power that love has on people's behavior, mainly when passion and irresistible attraction are present. The author tries to show that we are capable of believing anything as well as having childish attitudes when we are confronted with passion. Moreover Visconti is very elegant when dealing with all the elements, combining them with great precision.

Also it is fine to see Maria Schell and Mastroianni acting.
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Visconti + Dostoyevsky = One of the Best Adaptations Ever
Galina_movie_fan15 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Lucino Visconti's "White Nights" (1957) - is an engaging, uplifting, and compelling screen adaptation of Dostoyevsky's short story. I applaud to Visconti's masterful and elegant direction - everything is exquisite in his masterpiece. The settings came from a fairy tale – he moved his heroes to the dream like city that looked very much like Venice – with its canals and bridges. Original story took place in 19th century St. Petersburg – which always has been nicknamed "The Northern Venice". The film is set in the modern time. I was curious to see how Visconti would play the title. "White Nights" is the period of time in the beginning of June when the nights in St. Petersburg are very short. Alexander Pushkin described this time in one of his poems -"The morning rushes to catch the evening only giving darkness two short hours". Visconti's film takes place in the beginning of winter and during the last meeting between the heroes, the snow began to fall, giving the title and to the two final scenes new, deep, and very moving meaning. Is the ending happy or the sad one? I still don't know but what is certain that it is unforgettable. I also want to mention three lead actors who made this story so real, tender, sad, and poetic: Maria Shell as a desperate woman awaiting the return of her fairy tale prince - Jean Cocteau's leading man Jean Marais and lonely, shy clerk Marcello Mastroianni who was happy once if only for a few short minutes.
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Le Notti Bianche
claudio_carvalho20 March 2010
In a cold night, the lonely ordinary man Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) is wandering along the empty streets of Livorno after spending the day with the family of his employer. While crossing a bridge, Mario sees a beautiful woman crying and he starts a conversation with her. The reluctant Natalia (Maria Schell) finally accepts his companion to walk her home and they schedule to meet each other on the next day at the same place at 10:00 PM. The romantic and naive Natalia tells Mario that she is Slav and lives with her grandmother. They survive repairing fancy carpets and renting a room in their house. When an unknown tenant (Jean Marais) rents the room, Natalia immediately falls in love with him. However, the man asks for one year apart to raise enough money to get married with her and promising to return and meet her on the bridge where Mario met her in the previous night. She gives a letter to Mario to deliver to the stranger but Mario throws it away in the canal. On the next night, Natalia meets Mario by chance and they spend the snowing night together, dancing, chatting and drinking, and Mario falls in love with her; but while walking back home, the couple sees a man alone on the bridge.

"Le Notti Bianche" is one of the most beautiful romances I have ever seen. The melancholic, utopist and timeless love story is a different film from the genius Luchino Visconti, based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and was shot in magnificent sets that rebuilt a non- faithful quarter of Livorno in the Cinecittá in the opposite direction of the Italian Neo-Realism. The chemistry between Marcello Mastroianni in one of his best roles and the gorgeous and sweet Maria Schell with her delightful smile in the role of a dreamer is amazing and one of the greatest attractions of this lovely film. The haunting cinematography in black and white is comparable to the German Expressionism with the use of lighting and shadows. Last but not the least, the unforgettable music score of Nino Rota completes this stunning and unknown masterpiece. The DVD released in Brazil by Versátil Dstributor has restored images and perfect sound that highlight the wonderful cinematography. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Noites Brancas" ("White Nights")
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Probably my favorite film of Visconti's
zetes30 October 2005
He's not a director I'm overly enthusiastic about, but he's good. This is a simple love story, based on Dostoyevsky. Marcello Mastroianni plays a man who meets a beautiful young girl (Maria Schell). He falls for her instantly, but finds she is awaiting an older man (Jean Marais) with whom she fell in love the previous year. He is supposed to be coming back for her. Mastroianni attempts to prevent the reunion. This reminds me more of Fellini than Visconti. There's a dance sequence in a night club that almost escapes from the movie. It's like a centerpiece, and like a small masterpiece existing within an otherwise excellent film.
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For you, for me.
Polaris_DiB5 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You know, I'm really surprised that I didn't like this movie. It's major theme about the difference in reality and fantasy, along with its stunningly beautiful black and white cinematography, is precisely the sort of thing I look for in film. And yet, I didn't ultimately find it very enjoyable.

It's a very smart and well-written movie. The ways in which the character's aspirations and yearning mix with the reality of the situation is very precise and real, speaking both to the original writer of the short story, Dostoyevsky (whose writing resembles the quiet brooding of the male protagonist in many ways) and Visconti's own skill with directing and camera work. In fact, the very self-aware staging of the movie is what makes it easily a majestic cinematic experience, one that really shouldn't be missed. This movie could be watched and easily stay interesting just paying attention to the lighting of the shots and the composition of the frames.

Indeed, for a film surrounded in all sorts of romance and yearning, it's very detached, often, from the characters. Close-ups are almost nonexistent and for the most part the camera seems most happy to stay far away, with faces barely recognizable within the mist.

It's everything a film goer would love, which is why I find it odd that I didn't much care for the characters. The male protagonist I can understand, and even sympathize with, even as far as his attraction to the female. She, however, is too out of it, completely unreal, almost an idealized notion of something everybody's ideal would be to avoid. In short, I couldn't stand her, or watching her, or anything she did.

There were two very strong moments in the film that, for me, made it worth the time spending to see. The first is the dancing scene, where Marcello Mastrianni lets go and changes from the shy but humble courter to one of those virile, energetic youngsters, showing off and mugging. The other is the very end... of which I won't describe for spoiler purposes, but which ultimately makes Mastrianni's character someone we can all relate to.

Thus, I can honestly say that this film is magnificent, and that many people should go out and watch it. It's beautiful, contains strong acting and directing, has some very poignant scenes, and has a remarkable control over mise-en-scene. I just really don't like it.

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The film has been shot in Livorno? Not Studio !
ngoksel23 July 2018
I watched the film many times and thought that the film has been shot at Venezia. Now I'm wathching the film again and saw some street names, like these : Scali delle pietre, Scali del Pesce etc. I began to search these names and found that the film location is not Venezia,but it is Livorno.

If you pay attention the street names or place in the film, you could find same location in Livorno. There is very little changes after 60 years.
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The contrast of ideal image and reality
ilpohirvonen20 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Le notti bianche (White Nights) is a loyal adaption, directed by a neo realist Luchino Visconti, of the short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The story is fascinating and Visconti wasn't the only one who adapted it; Robert Bresson and Ivan Pyrjev made films based on it as well. White Nights is about a lonely man who meets a lonely girl, but they're lonely for different reasons; the man is lonely because of social reasons, he's new in town, but the girl's loneliness comes from her isolation, because she has to live with her nearly blind grandmother. The short story by Dostoevsky is much more sentimental than Visconti's film, but they're both dreamy: "The notes of a dreamer." In the book the loneliness of Mario is a little exaggerated by showing that he has no social life at all. In the opening scene of the film we are clearly showed that Mario has had a night with a group of friends and is now heading back home. His loneliness is much more deeper; it's not about him not having social relations, but not really having true love nor happiness. The same night he sees a girl, Natalia crying on a bridge. He starts to fall in love with her, but unfortunately finds out that she is waiting for a man that is unlikely to come back. The man she met a year ago when he was a lodger of her grandmother. They promised to meet each other on the same bridge after a year - if she'd still love him they'd start a life together. It's hard for Mario to believe this and so he let's himself to fall in love with Natalia.

The original story is set in St. Petersburg, but Visconti has moved it to Italy - still the neighborhood it takes place resembles the original story. The place is divided into two parts; the dreamy, fantasy world of Natalia and the sentimental, reality of Mario. In Natalia's own side she is a loyal lover, who waits for the man of her dreams and denies all the other relationships from her. But when she comes to Mario's reality side she is forced to see the facts and there she is able to fall in love again. Then when Mario follows Natalia over the bridge to her dreamy ideal world he has to take part in this 'fairy tale' and share the illusions of it.

The book by Dostoevsky has two evocative subtitles: sentimental novel and the notes of a dreamer and the film clearly builds around these same issues. Dostoevsky gives us a lyric love story about loneliness, which is realism and an honest portrayal. But Visconti's version is much more ruthless - Dostoevsky still gives us hope, humor and optimism. Both of them are amazing, both the book and the film are the most moving stories I've ever heard.

Le notti bianche is a film where ideal image is compared against reality. It's aesthetically gorgeous and the division to two sides is most certainly not just geographical. The contrast of ideal image and reality goes through the whole movie. The products of the reality are; the prostitute, her clients, the dancing, the teenagers and passers-by. But the ideal image cannot be separated into this concrete features, it's only the dreamy fantasy of Natalia. The dancing scene is brilliant and it reminds one of Federico Fellini's surrealism. The scene is very symbolic when it comes to the awkwardness of Mario and the uncomfortable relationship between him and Natalia. The scene is admirable, but also awkward, uncomfortable and maybe even unbearable.

When the lonely Mario meets Natalia he can experience happiness; they both aren't lonely anymore - the loneliness is gone. But when the unbelievable happens and the man Natalia has been waiting for returns, Mario is left alone once again and is more lonely than ever. It's quite an interesting choice to give Natalia her victory. In the beginning the sympathy of the audience is given to Mario immediately and in the end every bit of empathy towards Natalia has disappeared. The final walk of the lonely Marcello Mastroianni is heartbreaking - something that will stay with me forever.
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Visual poetry
HeadleyLamarr5 November 2007
Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) is a introverted young man who is new in town (a fantastical Livorno created just for the film). He encounters a young woman Natalya (Maria Schell) who appears to be waiting on a bridge. He saves her from some hoodlums and they become acquaintances. Over the next 4 nights we hear the stories of Mario and Natalya and come to learn why Natalya waits day after day at the bridge. Mario falls completely in love with Natalya and (in a departure from the Dostoyevsky story) throws away the letter she asks him to deliver to her returned lover. Will Natalya reciprocate Mario's feelings for her or will she forever pine for her lost love? The familiar tale unfolds beautifully in Visconti's version and the combination of sets, haunting use of lighting and fog, the river, the rain and snow, the narrow streets makes this a treat for the senses.

The lead pair acted very well - Marcello was a heart-throb and Maria was beautifully vulnerable. Jean Marais as the tenant was a complete contrast to Mario the dreamer. He was earthy and big and solid.

The movie had many beautiful moments but I MUST mention the night club scene - Marcello's dance was an inspired mix of gauche and genius. This is a beautiful film, well worth a watch and a few repeats. The DVD has some great insights into the period and what went into making the film.
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many worlds, one idea
lee_eisenberg15 September 2007
Luchino Visconti's adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic novel fits in perfectly with post-WWII Italy. Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell play people from dissimilar backgrounds who meet one night in an Italian town and strike up a relationship.

An important aspect is their backgrounds. He has moved in from out of town, but has quickly gotten to know part of the town. While she has lived in the town her whole life, her grandmother has kept her close and never allowed her to see the other side of the town; she earlier struck up a relationship with another man (Jean Marais), but he left and she doesn't know whether or not he'll return. So then, Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell meet on the bridge (the link not only between the two sides of the town, but between the characters' different worlds).

Another representation of contrasts between the separate worlds is shown by the different types of music. In one scene, Maria Schell and her grandmother go to see "Barber of Seville", one of the all-time classic operas. In the restaurant scene, someone plays a Bill Haley song, emblematic of modern music. Luchino Visconti was no fan of rock and roll, but probably felt that it would make for an evocative scene in this case.

But anyway, "Le notti bianche" (or "White Nights") remains an important part of Italy's cinematic history. I hope to see more of Visconti's movie's in the future.
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Some of the best black & white cinematography you'll ever see isn't enough for this film.
MartinHafer1 March 2013
In some ways, "Le Notti Bianche" is a strange film for me. On one hand, it has some of the best cinematography you'll ever see in a black & white film. The composition, the lighting, the mist--it all is so perfect. Yet, on the other hand, the story itself is so slight that I felt very unfulfilled at its conclusion.

The film begins with a lonely man wandering about the waterfront late at night. Although you'd think a guy that looks like Marcello Mastroianni would not have trouble finding a relationship, but in this film he is quite alone. By chance, he meets a very strange woman (Maria Schell). She is VERY shy--and behaves a bit oddly. However, despite this, he vows to stop by the same place they met and see her, if she wants, the following night. From this very inauspicious beginning, two lonely people meet and form a friendship....and perhaps more. Eventually, you understand some of her weird behaviors--she's actually waiting for another man (Jean Marais)--a man who you assume will never come.

There really is NOT a lot more to the film than my description. It isn't a bad film but I wanted more. I liked Mastroianni's character (though he was a sad fellow) but found Schell's perplexing and hard to believe. I also thought their relationship a bit hard to believe as well--going from total strangers to talking about marriage WAY too fast. In fact, the story itself was only okay--but the film earns a 7 simply for its look. Not a particularly enjoyable or engaging film for me--and it receives a very, very mild recommendation from me.
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bandw24 January 2015
This movie has Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) by chance meeting Natalia (Maria Schell) on a bridge one night. Mario is shy and lonely and is moved to try to comfort the sobbing Natalia. Natalia is waiting for L'inquilino, a lover who has been away for a year and has promised to return. L'inquilino is later seen to be tall and handsome and a man of few words. I could not see L'inquilino falling for the flighty Natalia, who is literally often tethered to her grandmother. I suppose there are people like Natalia who live in a state of yearning for a man whom she has hardly known. Such a person must be more in love with an imagined fantasy than with an actual person. Natalia might appeal to a younger, romantically idealistic audience, but an older audience will likely not have much patience with her.

The relationship between Natalia and Mario was more acceptable to me, both being driven by a deep seated insecurity and loneliness. Since the relationships all developed in such a short time the characters seemed to be more symbolic than real to me, with Mario representing realty and Natalia fantasy. Mario lives on one side of the bridge and Natalia the other, Mario is a realist and Natalia a fantasist, and so forth.

The production is little more than a filmed stage play, complete with fake snow. Most of the movie is talk with there being little action. A break was provided by an extended scene in a bar that has a well choreographed dance group dancing to a Bill Haley record. As enjoyable as that scene was, given the amount of time devoted to it I had to believe that it was supposed to be pivotal, but I failed to see that level of importance.

The black and white photography is impressive with effective camera angles and movements. Much of the movie is filmed at night, often creating a dream like atmosphere for the dream like story.

Nino Rota's score is a big disappointment, it is representative of the generic scores for Hollywood movies of the 1950s, rather than the creative work he is known for.

This character study never engaged me enough to feel invested at the emotional level that I think was intended.
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absolutely boring
mmguica20 August 2007
i guess i really like visconti for the realism of his characters, and dostoyevski for his contorted, troubled personalities, but it was extremely annoying to see them pictured on film. the characters completely lack credibility, so the whole movie ends up being an extremely cheap melodrama. while i have met in real life girls like natalia, who just drive one insane with their obsessive pursuit of an aberrant dream (the guy never comes back in real life btw) - so, in principle, one should be able to portray these people on film - i did find visconti's characters as barely sketches whose behaviour made no sense and therefore could not convey any meaning.

or maybe he was trying to have a "metarepresentation" of the characters? like they would be exaggerated puppets in the hands of their director and they overrepresent, love, and purity, idealism, and god-knows what else the movie wanted to say? like in Greek tragedy? i think even this way the movie fails miserably, as the dose of pathos is just completely insufficient. it's "warm", as dostoyevsky could say.

also, the movie is completely unfunny, which is a pity, since usually Italian movies (as also do Italian people) have a lot of that.

OK, so i think this movie is an insult to the intelligenge of any person over highschool age that looks for some sort of meaning in movies. i really don't understand why it's such a well-rated movie. the only reason i gave it 2 points is because of the dancing scene, which was kind of fun.
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Great Source, Good Film
gavin694217 May 2016
A humble clerk (Marcello Mastroianni) courts a woman (Maria Schell) who night after night awaits for the return of her lover (Jean Marais).

I am not a champion of this film, and I apologize for that. I know Visconti is a big name in Italian cinema, especially the neorealist movement. And I think he has made a fine film here. But it never fully caught my attention, and i have to just say it was good or maybe really good, but never quite great.

In contrast, Dostoevsky was (or is) one of my favorite authors of all time. He so expertly captured the psychology of his subjects. And I am not sure that this was really portrayed here. Granted, "White Nights" is not one of his stories I am most familiar with, but I never really got a Dostoevsky feel out of this film.
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A Romance as Cold as a Rainy City Night
iquine11 February 2020
Warning: Spoilers
(Flash Review)

The film's harsh, rugged and stone city environment reflects and foreshadows the blossoming romance. A man meets a young woman on the street at night by chance because the woman is crying by herself. Why is she crying? They strike up a friendship. She tells this man about another man she fell in love with who has left her for a year without any communication yet claims he'll return therefore she cries at the same spot every night when he, again, fails to return. This helpful chap says he'll help get communication to her lost love but he also had the hots for her. Will he do the honorable thing by helping her out or will jealousy take hold? Will the original man ever return to meet her at that spot as he claimed? This is pure mid-century Italian style with rich blacks and whites with striking shot framing and the story progresses with the ebbs and flows of the three main character's emotions. The cinematography is outstanding, the story compelling and the pacing is effective for this type of film.
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Young lonesome man meets young lonesome woman - who waits for her lover
clanciai17 December 2019
This is the very essence of cinematographic poetry. Visconti succeeds with the fantastic miracle of capturing the strange atmosphere in Dostoyevsky's short story, a rare story in his production for its mood of harmony and light - the story takes place during those nights in Petersburg around midsummer when the nights never grow dark. Here dark moods are prevailing, as there is very little daylight and almost only nocturnal settings, in dark streets in a strange town with canals, resembling Venice but being far too shabby and dismal to be Venice. In fact, the whole film was shot in the Cinecittà studios, so it's impossible to recognize this town. Its moods are very reminiscent of those in Carol Reed's "Odd Man Out", also here there is snow ultimately falling enhancing the poetry, and also the camerawork with its capturing the narrow lanes and their strange dwellers are very much like inspired from Carol Reed's film and Robert Krasker's photography. It's a masterpiece without question, many consider it Visconti's finest film, and a special treat is added by Maria Schell actually speaking fluent Italian - there is no playback or dubbing here, but it's actuallý Maria Schell speaking Italian all the way, although she didn't know the language before. This is one of those films you must never forget but always return to..
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Luchino Visconti and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
zutterjp4828 September 2019
This film is very good adaptation of the short novel of Fyodor Dostoevsky.Some days ago he saw "Lo Straniero" (the Stranger) adapted from the novel of Albert Camus.It seems that Luchino Visconti is fond of dramatic stories with complicated characters. In this story we have all moments of feelings: sadness of Maria waiting on the bridge, joy when they go for dancind or when the snow is falling, anger when there was misunderstanding between them. Other important thing: the photography is extraordinary: in this time Fellini, Visconti,Antonioni had the best cameramen of Italy !! Finally the performances of Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell are excellent: they give strength to the film.
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Beautiful, with a powerful ending
gbill-7487712 April 2019
A wonderful, very touching rendition of Dostoevsky's 1848 short story "White Nights."

A lonely young man (Marcello Mastroianni) meets and instantly falls for a young woman (Maria Schell) in the street one night, but finds out she is waiting for a man who she fell in love with a year ago, and who promised to return (Jean Marais). As Mastroianni makes headway with Schell in the other man's absence and she tells him honestly that it would take time for her devotion to change, we see that it's a dual story of needing the patience to wait for love to come around, which may have one outcome or another.

Director Luchino Visconti gives us a dreamy atmosphere in the streets at night with beautiful framing, lights, and fog. The scenes in the rain and snow were memorable, and I loved how tightly he told this story, including the use of the flashback. It's a romantic tale full of the emotions from the heart, but he avoids it from being cloying, and includes a wonderfully long dance scene, including the energy and passion of strangers dancing, as well as the couple's awkward attempts (Mastroianni is pretty funny).

Another amusing scene is when Mastroianni promises to help Schell write a letter to the other man, and after they begin, she gently guides him. "Dear Sir," he begins, and she says no, "Kind Sir." He goes on with "Excuse me for writing to you, but you must forgive..." and she interjects with "Forgive my impatience but..." He admits that sounds all right and continues "For a whole year I've been waiting," and she interrupts with "I've been sustained by a joyous hope..." It's a lovely scene between the two, and shows us the Mastroianni's conflicted emotions and Schell's sweetness.

Mastroianni turns in an excellent performance, and the scene under the bridge is fantastic. I think Schell was probably a little less successful in her role, as she seemed to lack depth and smiled too often, but at the critical moments she delivered. The rest of the cast are in much smaller parts, some of which worked (the grandma is adorable), and some of which seemed a little off (Marais, playing the other guy, seems way too old, though I found the difference in ages wasn't as big as I would have guessed; Maris 44 and Schell 31).

The film gets better as it goes along and finishes strong, with a powerful ending that's brilliantly shot by Visconti.

My favorite quote from the film is from that fantastic scene under the bridge, with Schell in Mastroianni's arms, and he says to her: "I wish I could make you fall asleep like the character in the fairy tale, who'll only wake up on the day she is to find happiness. It'll be like that for you too. One day you'll wake up and find that it's a lovely day. The sun will be shining, and everything will be fresh and clean. What once seemed impossible will seem simple and natural."
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Natalia, Open Your Eyes
frankwiener5 September 2018
You have Marcello Mastroianni in your grasp, and you abandon him for grandma's dark, silent, non-descript boarder? Why, Natalia? Why? Are you crazy?

Curiously, I felt detached from the action here mostly because I couldn't understand, or even accept, Nalalia's obsession with the mysterious boarder when she could have Mario instead. Having been very impressed by Maria Schell's stellar performances in films such as "The Mark", I was disappointed with her character here, but I blame a very stilted script for that. How many times is she expected to run from one end of the screen to the other, torn between the world of her imagination and that of reality? Then she repeatedly, and expectedly, buries her face in Mario's neck. No, I don't blame Maria for the very limited, shallow role that was created by others.

Although the wild and even weird 1950's dance scene to "Thirteen Women" by Bill Haley and the Comets seemed inconsistent with the rest of this heavily atmospheric film, Mastroianni's spontaneous dance moves serve as the highlight of the entire production. Clearly, Mario would do anything to win the heart of Natalia, no matter how awkward or far beyond his normally shy, inhibited personality. The scene somehow reminds me of the hilarious last episode of "Yesterday Today and Tomorrow" when Sophia performs her striptease act in front of her excited, panting client, played by a very funny, unrestrained Marcello, a natural comedian as well as an excellent dramatic actor. Bravo Marcello!
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A film that uses Hollywood-ish style to subvert Hollywood-ish romance !!!
avik-basu18891 August 2017
Adapted from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's original novel, Luchino Visconti's film 'Le Notti Bianche' has a weirdly poetic tone to it. Having seen 'Ossessione', 'La Terra Trema' and 'Bellissima' prior to this, this is the first of his films that I have seen which is completely disconnected from Italian Neorealism, although he did venture outside the boundaries of neorealism in 'Senso' already but I haven't seen it yet. Nino Rota's beautifully haunting score complements the tone for the film. The cinematography is almost noir-ish with the shadows and the black patches are prominently darkened. The timeline is not specified which adds to the poetry of the tone. Visconti uses symbolism, metaphors and dramatic Hollywood-esque romantic storytelling. The film works very well for the most part, but I found the screenplay to be a bit uneven during the 2nd half of the film. There are a few scenes that are a bit clumsily strung together and it somewhat dragged the film down in my eyes. Marcello Mastroianni is great as the dreamy and introverted Mario. Maria Schell is a little exaggerated with her expressions, but it works with the tone set by Visconti for the film.

Out of the Visconti films that I have seen, 'Le Notti Bianche' is probably my 3rd favourite. I didn't like it anywhere near as much as 'Ossessione' or 'La Terra Trema'. However the visual artistry on show in 'Le Notti Bianche' is undeniable and even though the 2nd half is plagued by a bit of unevenness in the screenplay, the film still deserves a recommendation.
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nineteenth century love story--shot entirely on a stage no live location action
filmalamosa13 December 2014
To a naive viewer--knew nothing of Visconti--am familiar with Mastroianni and Schnell...this movie is remarkable mostly for keeping your interest up for an hour and a half with so little story and no live scenery. It is entirely shot on a smallish set that looks like a nightmare modern dystopia.

Yes the story is believable if you wind it back 100 years or more to Dostoyevsky and the set looks like a bombed out St. Petersburg crossed with a Naples slum. The Story? Unrequitted love--Schnell is a poor girl of 18 or so whose grandmother pins her to her skirt to keep track of her. A new boarder rents a room from them and pays her attention. She falls in love and after he leaves and promises to come back in 1 year she waits at a bridge every night for his return. Meanwhile Mastroianni befriends her and falls in love with her... I won't tell the ending although you know something is going to happen unexpected it is the only thing that keeps you watching.

I didn't really find anything egregious in this movie although I watch old movies for the live street scenes and the nostalgic time travel that permits...this had ZERO. The funky 50s wild sex toned dancing seems to have been a staple of the time have seen it in numerous European movies a big yawn. Every detail in this type of movie is significant the swinging door--Schnell may be open to Mastroianni's advances ad infinitum...The only thing out of place were the Coke and Esso ads...

7.7 is too much praise not needed for this.... I give it a 6 for the opera/play like scenery. Could anyone stand to watch it twice once the surprise ending that keeps you watching is known? Not me.

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