City of Women 1980 movie

City of Women – How to laugh at the eternal drama between sexes

Some movies transcend the laws of cinema and pierce through the heart of our society even 40 years later, as was City of Women, one of Federico Fellini‘s 1980 masterpieces.

The story begins with the simplest pretext: the funny and unabashed Marcello Snàporaz, on a train ride, sitting in front of a sexy lady.

After following her to the lavatory, where they have a quick hint of intercourse, the woman gets off at the next stop, walking through the woods in the opposite direction of the train station.

Still intoxicated by her charms and aroused by that glimpse of sexuality, Marcello rushes to chase her through the woods, arriving at a large hotel lost in the middle of nowhere where a large feminist convention is taking place.

This is just the premise of a long journey that deals with the many faces of the eternal war of love and hate between the sexes and the exaggerated female intolerance of any naive and stupid aspect of men.

Equally exaggerated, then, is Dr. Xavier Katzone, an unrepentant womanizer to whose house Marcello arrives after managing to escape from the hotel and then again escaping from a pack of girls/teens chasing him in race cars.

As we discover almost immediately, Doctor Katzone was an old friend and schoolmate of his, a man of great wealth and aggressive behavior who collects his love affairs by immortalizing the many women in his life in what looks like a museum gallery.

Also, at the doctor’s house, his birthday party is taking place, and among the guests is Elena, Marcello’s desperate wife, worn down by their unbalanced relationship who will be the needle in the balance for a final confrontation between the protagonist and all the crazy, lovable women in this story.

Men and Women, the eternal war without winners

Marcello Mastroianni reunites with his beloved Federico Fellini after the international successes of La Dolce Vita and , acclaimed pillars of cinema that breathe the unique magic of a master who, like no other, could best combine drama, romance, and the madcap humor of Italian black comedy.

City of Women arrived in theaters in 1980, immediately becoming a media case that, on the one hand, received applause and, on the other, absurdly, suffered criticism from both feminist and macho movements that wanted to destroy this movie to zero.

Wanting to frame that era with the most recent and endless arguments on social networks between the woke and anti-woke on any occasion, we can safely say that Fellini and his trusty character Snàporaz still manage to ridicule and humiliate the arguments of both sides.

Thus we have armies of women and girls exaggeratedly pissed off at men regardless of any reason; see, for example, the final “trial” of the protagonist where, among the charges is the fateful question, “Why did you choose to be born a man?

Women who take the (fair and untouchable) claim of social equality with men to another level, demonstrating the same stupidity and intolerance of the patriarchy they so love to scream against all day long.

Similarly, none of the men in this story are saved either, beginning with Snàporaz himself, who is hardly a paragon of virtue and perfection, often hiding his weakness and ignorance behind his elegant spectacles and false big-friend smile.

Who is Snàporaz, after all, if not the ordinary specimen of the average man you can meet on any street?

And, even more important, between men and women, who is right? Maybe everyone, maybe no one, because we will all always be flawed and vain human beings.

Italy as a stage for the whole world

As is always the case in Fellini‘s movies, there is not a single character to be thrown out or that is useless to bring something interesting to the table to add to the discussion.

The discussion, in this case, is the exaggerated struggle between macho extremists and feminists, often dragged by their own words and set adrift away from their original purpose.

But it would be impossible to discuss the endless list of characters who come and go in this story, so I prefer to focus on the four that I consider pivotal.

Let’s start, of course, with the great Marcello Mastroianni, brilliant and funny as always, although years after his first movies with Fellini, we can see a poi’ more tired in his indispensable role of Snàporaz.

Indeed, Snàporaz is nothing more than a mixture of some words in the dialect of central Italy, which should, loosely translated, more or less mean “Man who in life does not want to toil and does not want responsibility.”

Even more explosive is the superb performance of Ettore Manni, simply unstoppable in the role of Dr. Xavier Katzone, a first-class womanizer who treats women like collectibles to be displayed (literally) like paintings in his personal gallery, paying the price when the feminists invade his home, led by the charismatic and sexy Bernice Stegers, nameless woman who is the unnamed desire all men have to possess and control her.

A desire destined to remain perpetually unsatisfied, just as eternally unsatisfied, is Elena, Snàporaz‘s mad and angry wife, played to perfection by Anna Prucnal.

Arriving punctually to spoil her husband’s party, she serves as a reminder of his inability to seriously commit to another person, being (as we see it) a character who runs from situation to situation without ever resolving anything.

We have so much more to discover and learn about this distant 1980 movie, the last decade of the life of this immense master of cinema, who obviously, by making City of Women, wanted to both make peace and take the piss out of both sides of the eternal struggle between men and women. After all this time, who won the war?

City of Women 1980 movie
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