This film is a “mystical” love story — its script is a farrago of flapdoodle and mythological symbolism. It simply can't be taken seriously. And yet, and yet . . .
Its images, created by the great Jack Cardiff, are so lush and beautiful, so seductive, and its story has such oneiric momentum, that one is captivated in spite of oneself. Martin Scorsese has said that watching it is like being drawn in to a strange and wonderful dream, and the stranger it gets, the more convincing it becomes, as often happens with dreams.
It is a movie one inhabits, even if one's sense of good taste and reason urge one to resist it. I can't say that it produces the emotional effects it seems to be trying for, but it's a lovely, delirious vision, and it stays with you long after its narrative evaporates in your mind.
Perhaps it's Ava Gardner who engineers the miracle — unconvincing as a symbolic reincarnation of the mythological Pandora, she is utterly convincing as a mythological creature in her own right, self-contained, potent, invincibly female.