Juliet of the Spirits

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Juliet of the Spirits
Italian theatrical release poster
ItalianGiulietta degli spiriti
Directed byFederico Fellini
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Federico Fellini
  • Tullio Pinelli
Produced by
CinematographyGianni Di Venanzo
Edited byRuggero Mastroianni
Music byNino Rota
  • Federiz
  • Francoriz Production
Distributed by
  • Cineriz (Italy)
  • Inter France Distribution (France)
Release dates
  • 22 October 1965 (1965-10-22) (France)
  • 23 October 1965 (1965-10-23) (Italy)
Running time
  • 144 minutes[1] (original Italian release)
  • 137 minutes
  • Italy
  • France

Juliet of the Spirits (Italian: Giulietta degli spiriti) is a 1965 fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini and starring Giulietta Masina, Sandra Milo, Mario Pisu, Valentina Cortese, and Valeska Gert. The film is about the visions, memories, and mysticism that help a middle-aged woman find the strength to leave her philandering husband.[2] The film uses "caricatural types and dream situations to represent a psychic landscape."[3] It was Fellini's first feature-length color film, but followed his use of color in "The Temptation of Doctor Antonio" episode in the portmanteau film Boccaccio '70 (1962).

The film was shown in competition at the 26th Venice International Film Festival, and received Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Set Decoration. It won the 1966 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Giulietta Masina won a David di Donatello for her performance. Woody Allen loosely remade it with his 1990 film Alice.[4]


Giulietta Masina (left) and Valentina Cortese (right)

Giulietta Boldrini, an upper-class housewife, attempts to deal with her mundane life and philandering, oppressive husband, Giorgio, by exploring the odd lifestyle of a glamorous neighbour, Suzy, and through dreams, visions and fantasies. As she taps into her desires (and her demons) she slowly gains greater self-awareness, leading to independence, although, according to Masina (Fellini's wife), the ending's meaning is debatable.[5]



Juliet of the Spirits was shot on location in Fregene, and at Safa-Palatino and Cinecittà Studios in Rome.[6]

Fellini's longtime musical collaborator Nino Rota composed the soundtrack. Until his death in 1979, Rota wrote the music for every Fellini film except his directorial debut, Variety Lights. The music in Juliet of the Spirits contains circus themes, as in Fellini's , and also uses organ, cocktail piano, guitar, saxophones, and voices without words to convey Juliet's shifts in feeling.[7] The soundtrack was mentioned in a profile of actor Steve Buscemi, which notes that "a Victrola sits in [Buscemi's] dining room, with the theme music for 'Juliet of the Spirits' permanently on its turntable."[8]


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 79% based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10.[9] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film's re-release has a weighted average score of 83 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[10]

In The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote of a revival in 2001: "Fellini went deliriously and brilliantly bananas with the color to create a rollicking through-the-looking-glass series of tableaus evoking a woman's troubled psyche."[11] Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four and included it in his 2001 list of "The Great Movies".[12] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times praised the film, writing, "Federico Fellini's 1965 Juliet of the Spirits remains a timeless, major work of a master, a portrait of a dutiful wife plunged into crisis that triggers her spiritual awakening. With Fellini's own wife, the great Giulietta Masina, as Juliet, and with his unique command of fantasy and spectacle in full force, Juliet of the Spirits, Fellini's first film in color, is at once an eye-popping display of bravura and a work of compassionate insight."[13]

The film was less well received in Italy.[14] Giovanni Grazzini of Corriere della Sera wrote, "It is known that Fellini's imagination, in recent years, has been unrestrained by a taste conventionally called baroque: ornamental delirium, decorative bliss. Juliet's marital crisis is thus suffocated by the scenographic luxury, the clamor or the tenderness of the colors, the bizarre splendor of the costumes; although sometimes there is an authentic heartbeat of humanity."

Awards and nominations[edit]

Institution Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Award Best Costume Design Piero Gherardi Nominated
Best Set Decoration Nominated
David di Donatello Best Actress Giulietta Masina Won
Golden Globe Award Best Foreign Language Film Won
Nastro d'Argento Best Director Federico Fellini Nominated
Best Actress Giulietta Masina Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Sandra Milo Won
Best Cinematography (Color) Gianni Di Venanzo Won
Best Production Design Piero Gherardi Won
Best Production Design Won
National Board of Review Best Foreign Language Film Won
Top Five Foreign Language Films Won
New York Film Critics Circle Best Foreign Language Film Won
Sant Jordi Award Best Foreign Film Federico Fellini Won
Valladolid International Film Festival Special Mention Won


  1. ^ "Juliet of the Spirits (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 26 January 1966. Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Juliet of the Spirits". IMDb. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  3. ^ Fellini 1995, p. 188.
  4. ^ Stevenson, Billy (15 October 2016). "Mia of the Spirits: Woody Allen's Alice (1990)". Bright Lights Film Journal. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (5 August 2001). "Reviews – Great Movie – Juliet of the Spirits (1965)". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2014.
  6. ^ "Locations for Juliet of the Spirits". IMDb. Archived from the original on 29 November 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  7. ^ Cook, Stephen. "Nino Rota: Guilletta degli Spiriti [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] – Review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  8. ^ Lahr, John (14 November 2005). "The Thin Man – Profile of Steve Buscemi". The New Yorker. Vol. 14 November 2005. p. 80. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Juliet of the Spirits". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 9 December 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  10. ^ "Juliet of the Spirits Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen (18 May 2001). "Rediscovering Color in a Fellini Fantasy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Juliet of the Spirits movie review". RogerEbert.com. 5 August 2001. Archived from the original on 14 April 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  13. ^ Thomas, Kevin (29 June 2001). "Fantasy and Spectacle Lend a Timelessness to 'Juliet of the Spirits'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 23 May 2021. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  14. ^ Fava, Claudio G.; Viganò, Aldo (1987). I film di Federico Fellini (in Italian). Rome: Gremese Editore. p. 114.


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