ICBM source says 1965], and some audiences no doubt
attended in an expanded state of consciousness. They were in
the right show: a head trip, as they said. Seen in 2001, when
the party is long over, it’s like a streamer from last summer’s
dances: still bright, still gaily waving to echoes of forgotten
My experience of this film precisely the opposite. I don’t recall whether I saw the film when it originally appeared in theaters, but I certainly saw it within a couple of years after its American premiere. Although I had already enjoyed La Dolce Vita and was awed by (at the time utterly impenetrable) 8 ½, I found Juliet of the Spirits to be fairly conventional, particularly in its psychological fantasies. I also probably misunderstood the film’s satire of its jet-setter’s fascination with all things spiritual and vaguely new-wave as advocating those values—values I found intolerable. The very idea of a room full of disciples of someone like the hermaphroditic Bhisma in a house stuffed with individuals playing out their sexual fantasies, as was Juliet’s next door neighbor Suzy’s, seemed merely absurd. During that period I had also rejected the kind of simple surrealism which is at the heart of many of Fellini’s nevertheless memorable images. I do recall finding the film quite beautiful, and I always enjoy Nino Rota’s remarkable scores, but overall, I felt disappointed with the film.
It all now reminds me a great deal of the extravagant selfishness of that period, in which I was certainly a participant as I have written elsewhere, but which I see now for its emptiness. It is not her erring husband who wins out in the end. His urbane friend, played by José de Villalonga, is far more the type of being with whom Giulietta should be involved, a romantic who enjoys poetry and solitude, and wonders at the beauty of her garden.