White Nights (1957 film)

Le notti bianche
Directed by Luchino Visconti
Produced by Franco Cristaldi
Written by Luchino Visconti
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (short story)
Starring Maria Schell
Marcello Mastroianni
Jean Marais
Music by Nino Rota
Release dates
6 September 1957
Running time
97 min
Country Italy, France
Language Italian

Le Notti Bianche (English: White Nights) is a 1957 Italian film directed by Italian neorealist Luchino Visconti.[1] The movie takes its title and basic plot from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1848 short story "White Nights."


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 (Jean Marais) who may not ever return to her, but who continues to occupy her heart to the exclusion of any other possible relationship.

In turning the Dostoevsky story into a film, Visconti eliminated the first-person narration and made Natalia less of an innocent, and at times something of a hysteric and a tease. For his part, Mario rejects obvious offers of romantic attention from other women in the story, holding on to a fruitless obsession.

Mario thanks the young woman for the moment of happiness she has brought him. However, he is left alone at the end of the film, 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.



Two Lovers, a 2009 movie by James Gray, is loosely based on the 1957 movie.


  1. "NY Times: White Nights". NY Times.com. Retrieved 2009-03-21.

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