Lo sceicco biancoi is an absolutely delightful story of adolescence.
The problem with adolescents, you see, is that they're old enough to convincingly mimic successful insertion in the adult world, but not yet quite old enough to be genuinely successfuly inserted. From their own point of view, stepping outside the -- very thin indeed -- shared ground is an exercise in incomprehensible nightmare. Yes Wanda can play the wife just as well as an adult wife in the highly stylisized environment of a Sunday family dinner with Ivan's uncle. What if she goes to take a bath and finds herself ("per un destino fatale!") thirty kilometers from Rome in the next frame, dressed as an odalisque among the gypsies populating an improvised camp ? What then ?! WHAT THEN ?!?!
Things have a way of sorting themselves out, of course, and besides -- the promises made, the oaths taken, the very "truths" spoken by children are not, fatally, fundamentally, of the same substance, of the same kind as their adult counterparts. They're simulant truths, hopeful truths, "if nothing I never saw before occurs" truths. "But you've not seen much of anything before ?!" is an interrogation omitted by those who love them (and, much to their visceral surprise, by no-one else). As long as the social womb stays flexible, there's hope for the young'uns.
What can you do ?
You can certainly watch this film. It's well worth watching, for all the round, loving curvature of it, for all the warm, caring world of it. It's a film from a world that knew no World War Two, so to speak. Were you never curious what the world would have looked like without experience ?———
- 1952, by Federico Fellini, with Brunella Bovo, Leopoldo Trieste (cameos by Giulietta Masina and Alberto Sordi). [↩]