The Book and the Movie: White Nights | Fyodor Dostoyevsky / Luchino Visconti


“And was it his destined part
Only one moment in his life
To be close to your heart?
Or was he fated from the start
to live for just one fleeting instant,
within the purlieus of your heart.”

Ivan Turgenev, White Nights


“It was a marvelous night, the sort of night one only experiences when one is young. The sky was so bright, and there were so many stars that, gazing upward, one couldn’t help wondering how so many whimsical, wicked people could live under such a sky.”


"I am a dreamer. I know so little of real life that I just can’t help re-living such moments as these in my dreams, for such moments are something I have very rarely experienced. I am going to dream about you the whole night, the whole week, the whole year. I feel I know you so well that I couldn’t have known you better if we’d been friends for twenty years. You won’t fail me, will you? Only two minutes, and you’ve made me happy forever. Yes, happy. Who knows, perhaps you’ve reconciled me with myself, resolved all my doubts."

                                                      Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights, 1848

“But how could you live and have no story to tell?”
“It suddenly seemed to me that I was lonely, that everyone was forsaking me and going away from me.”
“Why is it that even the best of men always seem to hide something from other people and to keep something back? Why not say straight out what is in one’s heart, when one knows that one is not speaking idly? As it is every one seems harsher than he really is, as though all were afraid of doing injustice to their feelings, by being too quick to express them.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “To-day was a gloomy, rainy day without a glimmer of sunlight, like the old age before me. I am oppressed by such strange thoughts, such gloomy sensations; questions still so obscure to me are crowding into my brain—and I seem to have neither power nor will to settle them. It’s not for me to settle all this!”
“Oh, how unbearable is a happy person sometimes!”
“I don’t know how to be silent when my heart is speaking.”
Bill Haley and his Comets - Thirteen Women

Dance scene from White Nights / Le Notti Bianche (Luchino Visconti, 1957) Among dancers : Dirk Sanders, Marcello Mastroianni (who is really funny!) & Maria Schell / Choreographed by Dirk Sanders


“Your hand is cold, mine burns like fire. How blind you are, Nastenka!”
“May your sky always be clear, may your dear smile always be bright and happy, and may you be for ever blessed for that moment of bliss and happiness which you gave to another lonely and grateful heart. Isn’t such a moment sufficient for the whole of one’s life?”


“And so I ask myself: 'Where are your dreams?' And I shake my head and mutter: 'How the years go by!' And I ask myself again: 'What have you done with those years? Where have you buried your best moments? Have you really lived? Look,' I say to myself, 'how cold it is becoming all over the world!' And more years will pass and behind them will creep grim isolation. Tottering senility will come hobbling, leaning on a crutch, and behind these will come unrelieved boredom and despair. The world of fancies will fade, dreams will wilt and die and fall like autumn leaves from the trees. . . .”

                                             Fyodor Dostoyevsky, White Nights, 1848





Le notti bianche (1957)
Director: Luchino Visconti 
Stars: Maria Schell, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean Marais 
Music: Nino Rota






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