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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grand allegory, and one of Fellini's best., 23 July 2005
In keeping with the style and tone of his later-period films, like Fellini-Roma, Amarcord and Casanova, ...And The Ship Sails On is a purposely elaborate and overly-stylised romp through the decadent and the grotesque, as a congregation of mourning opera singers find themselves stuck on a drifting ocean liner, whilst, unbeknownst to them, the first World War is breaking out across Europe. Like all of Fellini's work following 8 ½ (or maybe even going as far back as Nights of Cabiria), the films seems loose and directionless, propelled along by a series of darkly-comic set-pieces, colourful characters and grand cinematic gestures. It's less sprawling than a film like La Dolce Vita and less abstract and thematically repulsive as Satyricon, with the film falling somewhere in between, probably ending up closer to the fantastical stylisation and nostalgic fabrication of Amarcord than anything else.
It's certainly more focused than many of his films from the same era, with Fellini managing to present a loose story that we can actually buy into, whilst the use of humour here is much broader and more central than some of his other films, with the references to Chaplin and the silent age helping to undercut the overt-stylisation (a thousand acres of plastic seas, a huge light bulb sun, etc) and the lack of an obvious central character (or any real character, for that matter). Once again, Fellini deals in caricatures, choosing actors more for their physical appearance than any kind of acting ability, then directs them to mug to the camera with movements and expressions as grand as the film's design.
The photography here is exquisite (like all Fellini), with the director creating a number of beautiful images and compositions that look like paintings from the early part of the last century. The opening scene for example is the most astounding thing that the director ever created... the crew and opera singers carry the coffin of their beloved soprano down the jetty and up onto the ship in a series of long, sweeping crane shots. Deceptively, but also as to illustrate his cinematic references, Fellini begins the film with no sound and in a dull, brown sepia. As the film progresses, and the camera follows the mourners and the actions of the ship's crew, the sound of the ship-yard begins to slowly fade in... much like the colour of the images. There are a number of other stand out cinematic moments, in which Fellini gracefully orchestrates the actors and his camera so that their movements are integrated, almost like a musical, whilst the use of fast-motion to over-exaggerate the period feel and to create a sense of farce that works well with the material, and Fellini's style of direction.
Some might argue that the film is quite trivial and never really ascends to the level of greatness set by the likes of La Strada, 8 ½ and Amarcord, and I suppose that's true, but for me, the film creates such an atmosphere and such a wholly intoxicating world of stylisation, arcane historical references and the trademark Fellini absurdities, that the whole film becomes a joy to sit through. On top of all the grand visual flourishes, outlandish characterisations and general Fellini-isms, there's also the various symbolic references and narrative interpretations, which give the film a further layer of entertainment.
The use of World War One as a pivot for the latter half of the story is an essential one and is important in as much as it allows Fellini (after so much time spent on spectacle and cinematic buffoonery) to create a notion much more meaningful and memorable. There are a number of interpretations and connotations you could connect to the idea of the ship (a metaphor about class... society... royalty... the birth of a nation... the idea of escape... the ship of fools... etc) and the idea of life and death, so irremovably woven into the depiction of the mourners. So, what begins as a typically Fellini-esque romp, gradually becomes something much more meaningful, and remains, in my opinion, his last true masterpiece.
Admittedly, it's nowhere near as essential as his earlier films, pre-8 ½, in which his work generally had a much greater degree of narrative and cohesion, though from his later, more grandiose films, ...And The Ship Sails on remains an absolute treat... better than the difficult Roma and Satyricon, more impressive and enjoyable than Casanova and The City of Women and perhaps just short of the charm and atmosphere of the masterpiece Amarcord. All in all, an epic and enjoyable film that stands as a grand testament to one of the artistic giants of post-war cinema, 20th century cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opera on the sea, 30 July 2010
By 
Room for a View - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Late Fellini that puts a bunch of rich bourgeoisie, opera stars and an Austrian prince on an ocean liner whilst they accompany the ashes of a deceased soprano to an island in the middle of the Adriatic. Cue suffocating etiquette, a rogue sea gull, loads of opera arias, sweaty boiler rooms, the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand, Serbian refugees and a dreadnought with guns blazing afloat upon a sea of agitated black bin bags. Fellini is sometimes criticised for his late films but I love them. I adore the over the top performances, surreal art direction, humour and pathos. The latter two points are clearly evident in the scene with the journalist and the prince where reference is made to the "mouth of a mountain"!!! For some reason I can't fully explain I found this movie very moving. Perhaps it's the historical context or the pervasive atmosphere of the loss of a great singer. Or is it because it is a film from Fellini's twilight years: the 1980s. The accompanying special features are a treat for Fellini fanatics like me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A ship spoiled for a ha'pworth of....., 12 Aug 2011
By 
SJT (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Now very difficult to acquire, this release should have been the natural, UK-available counterpart to the Criterion Collection edition in America, which used the standard Italian print, with subtitles. But look at the cast: it's almost entirely English, and that is the language in which it was actually shot. When the film was released in UK cinemas, it was presented as an English film, with no titling, and (nearly) everybody re-recording their original dialogue under the direction of, IIRC, Mike Hodges. The only speaking major roles dubbed by someone else were those of Pina Bausch - yes, THAT Pina Bausch - as the blind princess, and the Archduke. (The Pavarotti-clone Italian tenor sings more than he ever speaks.) Yet this transfer is the same Italian-dubbed version as the Criterion, which robs us of direct verbal contact with the performances of Barbara Jefford, Freddie Jones, Jonathan Cecil, Peter Cellier and Philip Locke, among others. An opportunity missed, alas. And why, pray, is the cover a captured still from Amarcord - as the SS. Rex steams past in the night in the coast off Rimini, nearly drowning the whole town who's rowed out to see it - rather than a shot from E la nave va itself, which has the most glorious embarcation scene at the docks as its opener? Very silly and careless.

Still, the film is a masterpiece, both hysterically funny and infintely sad: and though it deserves far better treatment on DVD than it has received thus far, in any format it's a film you ought to see.

SJT
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grand allegory, and one of Fellini's best., 13 Oct 2007
This review is from: And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
In keeping with the style and tone of his later-period films, like Fellini-Roma, Amarcord and Casanova, ...And The Ship Sails On is a purposely elaborate and overly-stylised romp through the decadent and the grotesque, as a congregation of mourning opera singers find themselves stuck on a drifting ocean liner, whilst, unbeknownst to them, the first World War is breaking out across Europe. Like all of Fellini's work following 8 ½ (or maybe even going as far back as Nights of Cabiria), the films seems loose and directionless, propelled along by a series of darkly-comic set-pieces, colourful characters and grand cinematic gestures. It's less sprawling than a film like La Dolce Vita and less abstract and thematically repulsive as Satyricon, with the film falling somewhere in between, probably ending up closer to the fantastical stylisation and nostalgic fabrication of Amarcord than anything else.

It's certainly more focused than many of his films from the same era, with Fellini managing to present a loose story that we can actually buy into, whilst the use of humour here is much broader and more central than some of his other films, with the references to Chaplin and the silent age helping to undercut the overt-stylisation (a thousand acres of plastic seas, a huge light bulb sun, etc) and the lack of an obvious central character (or any real character, for that matter). Once again, Fellini deals in caricatures, choosing actors more for their physical appearance than any kind of acting ability, then directs them to mug to the camera with movements and expressions as grand as the film's design.

The photography here is exquisite (like all Fellini), with the director creating a number of beautiful images and compositions that look like paintings from the early part of the last century. The opening scene for example is the most astounding thing that the director ever created... the crew and opera singers carry the coffin of their beloved soprano down the jetty and up onto the ship in a series of long, sweeping crane shots. Deceptively, but also as to illustrate his cinematic references, Fellini begins the film with no sound and in a dull, brown sepia. As the film progresses, and the camera follows the mourners and the actions of the ship's crew, the sound of the ship-yard begins to slowly fade in... much like the colour of the images. There are a number of other stand out cinematic moments, in which Fellini gracefully orchestrates the actors and his camera so that their movements are integrated, almost like a musical, whilst the use of fast-motion to over-exaggerate the period feel and to create a sense of farce that works well with the material, and Fellini's style of direction.

Some might argue that the film is quite trivial and never really ascends to the level of greatness set by the likes of La Strada, 8 ½ and Amarcord, and I suppose that's true, but for me, the film creates such an atmosphere and such a wholly intoxicating world of stylisation, arcane historical references and the trademark Fellini absurdities, that the whole film becomes a joy to sit through. On top of all the grand visual flourishes, outlandish characterisations and general Fellini-isms, there's also the various symbolic references and narrative interpretations, which give the film a further layer of entertainment.

The use of World War One as a pivot for the latter half of the story is an essential one and is important in as much as it allows Fellini (after so much time spent on spectacle and cinematic buffoonery) to create a notion much more meaningful and memorable. There are a number of interpretations and connotations you could connect to the idea of the ship (a metaphor about class... society... royalty... the birth of a nation... the idea of escape... the ship of fools... etc) and the idea of life and death, so irremovably woven into the depiction of the mourners. So, what begins as a typically Fellini-esque romp, gradually becomes something much more meaningful, and remains, in my opinion, his last true masterpiece.

Admittedly, it's nowhere near as essential as his earlier films, pre-8 ½, in which his work generally had a much greater degree of narrative and cohesion, though from his later, more grandiose films, ...And The Ship Sails on remains an absolute treat... better than the difficult Roma and Satyricon, more impressive and enjoyable than Casanova and The City of Women and perhaps just short of the charm and atmosphere of the masterpiece Amarcord. All in all, an epic and enjoyable film that stands as a grand testament to one of the artistic giants of post-war cinema, 20th century cinema.
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5.0 out of 5 stars thanks., 26 April 2012
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Mrs. L. Owen "BING" (UK) - See all my reviews
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great to be able to obtain a dvd of this classic, good quality and arrived very quickly. Vey unusual characters which you certainly dont meet everyday!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A less known film by Federico Fellini, 4 April 2012
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This review is from: And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
Sweet, poetic film by Federico Fellini. It's full of beautiful music and makes you dream. The plot is quite simple, a journey on a ship organised to take the ashes of a great opera singer to the island where she was born. I really recommend it also for the beautiful setting and costumes. Among the other characters, I was literally enchanted by the blind Princess, played by Pina Bausch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I consider filmmaking a wonderful toy,a fabulous pastime"(Fellini), 5 Mar 2012
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] (DVD)
The Lady and the Duke,Oh,What a Lovely War!,Dogville,Les Amant du Pont-Neuf are all films that utilize painted backdrops,fabricated sets,like E La nave va,and every one of them was turned into a remarkable film.In his early classic films Fellini looked to the circus,in his later,he opened himself up to TV and opera. E La nave va follows the funeral ceremonies for a famous diva of Italian grand opera aboard a cruise ship carrying her colleagues,former lovers, and the Grand Duke of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Set in 1914, the ship delivers her ashes to the island of her birth. What Fellini shares with opera is its distance from realism. When Serbian refugees are taken on board the ship (marking the start of World War I)and an Austrian battleship forces them to be surrendered,the passengers sing in chorus to protest. Fellini salutes the emotional appeal of an essentially irrational art form.There is no substantial plot or depth to characters,rendered as they are by their physical features,behavioural quirks.They are stereotypes of the aristocracy that existed(and would soon be washed away)before the advent of the 1st World War. The motif of the ending of an era and the films positioning near the end of his career make for a particularly poignant expression. It's rich sentimentality beautifully positions individual stories within the tapesty of larger world events oblivious to these characters.

In a Fellini film we give into an illusion,partake of a dream. From the brilliant opening, filmed in the style of an old silent movie, gradually blending in sound and colour, as the passengers board the ship,to the grand operatic finale off the island, E la nave va is a pure visual treat.Our host is Fellini's alter ego,Orlando(Freddie Jones)who narrates, interviews the leading characters,while being filmed. Fellini wants us to be aware of this film as a piece of cinema, not as an approximation of reality. The sets,which are stunning,are completely false and unrealistic, and elements of the absurd are constantly brought to our attention (people often break out into song, for example).In individual scenes the film contains some glorious set pieces, in particular a wonderful wine glass concerto played out in the galley and an impromptu performance in the ship's boiler room, as each opera singer competes in turn to impress the workers below with the range of his, or her, voice,the aristocrats dancing with the Serbians on deck,the scene where sunlight brightens one half of the ship and moonlight the other,the grand diva's funeral.Perhaps the strongest focus of the film is on the absurdity of the upper classes and their ignorance of what is happening in the world. This is reflected no better than in Orlando's interview with the Austrian Grand Duke. Communicating through a translator, a series of comic exchanges means that by the end of the interview neither party has a better idea of what the other was saying than when they started.

The film manages to achieve a certain sense of melancholy and sadness at the coming to the end of an era (and thereby a filmmaking era) through its stylised period detail, elegant poise ,beautiful cinematography.Its elegance and beauty are reflected by the costumes,opera and music pieces that punctuate the film,Verdi's Force of Destiny,La Traviata and Aida,the Hebrew Slaves' chorus,Debussy's Claire de La Lune,Strauss waltzes.Edmea Tetua,the greatest opera singer of all time,is played by Janet Suzman in silent flashback.The worlds of royalty,opera and film are all based on superficial but symbolic artifice,hence why Fellini treats his aristocrats with ironic,amused affection. The ship of life is an image of great humanity,compassion and optimism, as the ship sails on, carrying the last remnants of this bygone era of luxury and extravagance,the film's final scenes become all the more poignant.Fellini deliberately uses very artificial special effects and, at the end, has the camera pull back to show the ship's deck in its stage at Cinecittà.Stunning.What a way to go out!
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5.0 out of 5 stars It is a work of love., 30 July 2014
Fellini makes a silent film. It is a work of love.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great film by fellini!, 29 Sep 2014
By 
R. H. J. Glabbeek (Lekstraat 13B 1079 EK Amsterdam) - See all my reviews
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Very happy with this film!
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And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD]
And The Ship Sails On [1984] [DVD] by Federico Fellini (DVD - 2006)
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