- Movie Rating -

And the Ship Sails On (1984)

| February 17, 1984

This is going to sound strange.  I know that And the Ship Sails On was directed by the great Federico Fellini but somehow it feels like it was directed by one of his imitators.  Something is off here.  I have gotten so use to the textures, the movement, the music, the style of Fellini’s pictures that they have become second-nature in my expectations.  This movie feels slower, the music isn’t right.  Maybe it si because unlike Amarcord or Juliet of the Spirits the film is missing a central figure.  It has a central idea but no one person to pull us from one end to the other.

And the Ship Sails On seems to want to say something important about the break in the culture in the time just before World War I.  The film takes place aboard a cruise ship the Gloria N in July 1914, just three weeks following the assassination of Archduke Franc Ferdinand which would be the spark that would ignite the war.  Aboard the ship are friends who are mourning the death of the great opera star Edmea Tetua whose destination is her hometown of Erimo where she was born.

The passengers are all Fellini types, some pompous, some sincere, mostly indulgent.  They argue, they have weird sexual encounters, or just habits that are strange in and of themselves such as a count whose cabin is a small shrine to the now-late Archduke.

Then, into this over-stuffed milieu, comes a sobering inconvenience, a group of Serbian refugees who have fled in rafts toward the Italy after Ferdinand’s murder and have been let onboard by the captain.  They immediately invade first class but they are quickly pushed down to the lower decks so they won’t be such an inconvenience to the guests trying to mourn in peace.

These are the outlines of the film.  What remains is not really worth your time.  Like his earlier City of Women, this is a film without a structure.  It’s a lot of behavior that is overarched occasionally by an idea that Fellini doesn’t really seem to want to flesh out.  He wants to say something about the culture that was about to be dashed on the rocks by the arrival of the First World War, but there is never any real commentary.  You kind of have to bring it all in with you, and that’s not good enough.  The movie is all style and very little substance.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Foreign, Uncategorized