2005-04-26 Preitenegg, Austria / White Nights / Weiße Nächte / Noites Brancas / Le notti Bianche

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A lonely young man, Mario, meets a lonely young woman, Natalia. Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) is lonely for social reasons; he is a stranger and a newcomer to town. Natalia (Maria Schell) is lonely because she has always lived in isolation, even in the heart of the city.

Her loneliness is intensified because she is in Love with a man who may not ever return to her, but who continues to occupy her heart to the exclusion of any other possible relationship.

Mario rejects obvious offers of romantic attention from other women holding on to a fruitless obsession. Mario thanks Natalia for the moment of happiness she has brought him.

He is left alone at the end, befriending the same stray dog he met at the beginning. He is back at square one, and has put more energy into pursuing the fantasy of an obsession rather than any prospect of real Love.

May your sky be always clear, may your dear smile be always 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

Maria Schell‘s last years were overshadowed by her ill health. She attempted suicide in 1991 and suffered repeated strokes.

Her final public appearance was at the premiere of her brother Maximilian’s documentary film, ‘My Sister Maria’ (2002) on her life; both were awarded the ‘Bambi Award’ for their work.

Schell lived reclusively in the remote village of Preitenegg in the Austrian Alps until her death from pneumonia on 26 April 2005, aged 79. Upon her death, her brother released a statement:

Towards the end of her life, she suffered silently and I never heard her complain. I admire her for that. Her death might have been for her a salvation. But not for me. She is irreplaceable.

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