For Reel

The White Sheik (1952)
December 4, 2015, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Federico Fellini
3.5 Stars
The White SheikIn his first solo feature as a director, Federico Fellini would begin to explore the ever-shifting, sometimes imperceptible divide between illusion and reality. The White Sheik concerns a woman (Brunella Bovo) with an obsession with fumetti–a popular trend in Italy at the time in which romantic stories where presented as serialized photographed comic strips. When her honeymoon takes her to Rome, she abandons her husband (Leopoldo Trieste) to search for the eponymous “White Sheik” (Alberto Sordi), a Valentino-like figure who is not quite the charismatic enchanter he appears to be on the page. The great irony is that Fellini uses this model of fantasy to skewer the notion of marriage. While the ending unites the lovers once again, the husband carries on his bourgeois tourist desires and she now dubs him the “White Sheik” as a means of carrying out her unbroken fantasy. That the film cuts between the two lovers for comic effect–cuts often link together similar thoughts to achieve a certain harmony–ensures that neither character looks more the fool by the end of the picture. Fellini’s penchant for slapstick is apparent in Trieste’s performance, which revels in his comically saucer-eyed face as he tries to come up with excuses for his wife’s disappearances, as well as the campy, circus-like extravaganza of the fumetti photoshoot.