You can listen to the tracks in full with a registered Spotify account, which comes for free. NOTE: The vocal version of ‘Pin Penin’ bears the title ‘Canto della Buranella’.

Fellini’s Casanova

Federico Fellini, 1976

Part Seven Chapter 4

Fellini’s Casanova: The 205 purrs as we discuss the film you’d seen in the Palazzo dello Strazzino with Matteo and Mara.

The idiot boy
In a witch’s box
On the island of Murano;
Speaking to no-one,
Never spoken to,
Blood from the nose pouring:

Donald Sutherland as Casanova

Margareth Clementi as Sister Maddalena

Withholding nothing,
Hoarding nothing,
Giving without calculation;
The scandal of pleasure,
The impudence of daring,
The refusal of shame and guilt:

Stealer of fire,
Protector of darkness,
The generosity of the poor;
Lover of women,
Abhorrer of suffering,
The honesty of the outlaw:

You laugh when I tell you that between the two of us, it is you who are more fully the Venetian.

We both know that having a roof
Is no assurance of shelter;
We’re both convinced the biggest fool
Is the one who believes he can’t be foolish.

Not for us the familiar mirror,
But the uncanny looking glass;
Not for us the fixity of closure,
But the flux of openness.

Too demanding not to desire the truth,
Too modest to reduce the world to it:
We both know that humility—
Not intelligence—
Is the opposite of stupidity.

So why do I say you are more fully the Venetian? Because the insolence of pleasure becomes you more than it does I.

̶  He’s the brother I never had, Sprague.
̶  He is!
̶  I love his réplique to Voltaire: ‘When you’ve done away with superstition, what will you replace it with?’
̶  Yes, that insight is extraordinary. It’s a shame Fellini failed to understand him.
̶  Nevertheless, the film is still ravishing.
̶  Yes, but if he had understood Casanova, his film would have been—
̶  A different film! You have to accept it for what it is.
̶  Yes, of course. But still. Fellini’s hysterical vengeance against I don’t know what phantasm has nothing to do with the real Casanova.
̶  I agree. But don’t forget that Fellini began as a cartoonist. He’s drawn to caricature.
̶  Right.
̶  And think of the music! Without that clown triste dimension, that ridiculousness, you’d never have that ravishing score.
̶  True. And what a loss that would be!

Listen, my love, to marilenghe, listen to the words in the Friulian tongue:

Pin penin, valentin, pan e vin;
Pin penin, valentin, fureghin.
Le xe le voje i caprissi de chéa,
Che jeri la jera, la jera putéa;
Le xe le voje i caprissi de chéa,
Che jeri la jera, la jera putéa.

Now listen to the music: Wistful, ethereal, otherworldly, through a filigree of plucked guitar the glass harmonica bears the plaintive melody. Punctuated by electric bass, the sonorities are nocturnal. And now the glockenspiel comes to articulate the second motif—’These are the wishes, the whims of the girl, who yesterday was a child, a child at play’—before the acoustic guitar, against a wash of strings, plays the first motif again. How can a nursery song be so heart-wrenching? Is it because, in its very essence, it is an evocation of transience? Listen! In bewitching permutations, in ingenious alternations, the instruments transpose the figure and ground of Casanova as grown-up and child. Marietta, did you ever imagine, as you stared into the aqueous blue of Casanova’s eyes—that pallor abrim with moonlight and spermatozoa—that loving you would turn my green eyes blue and bestow upon my tongue, too, the syntax that turns memory into music?

̶  Miss Charpillon est plus putain que sa mère! Miss Charpillon est plus putain que sa mère! Miss Charpillon est plus putain que sa mère!

Conjuring Casanova’s parrot of revenge, you mockingly convey the spurned lover’s venom. Retrieving your voice, you cut off my laughter.

̶  A brilliant gesture, but much too light to balance the humiliation.
̶  Yes.
̶  Especially when you think he was minutes away from killing himself.

And thus we recalled the facts of the saddest episode in Casanova’s career, when a sweet-faced slut dared him to resist her: She would make him fall in love, she would reduce him to a dog at her feet. She did. Stripped of his dignity, his pockets filled with stones, he crossed Westminster Bridge to drown himself in the Thames.

̶  Could you ever do that to a man, Marietta?
̶  I’ve known men who’ve wanted nothing more than to be a dog at my feet. I’ve never been interested.
̶  Why not?
̶  I don’t like power.
̶  Don’t tell me you’ve never been tempted! Power demands you test it, see how far you can go.
̶  True. But once you’ve made a man cry just because you can, you move on.

Crystalline, the snow glistens.

These are the wishes
The whims of a girl
Who yesterday was a child
A child at play

Unbroken, the plain unfolds its flatness to infinity: The enigma of femininity feeds the vertigo of desire, infinitely.