Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Remember...

Amarcord (1974) directed by Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini's childhood memories, of a year in a seaside town in Fascist Italy. A year goes by in the film, which documents a town as a living entity. Characters intersect and revolve around a family, over the course of a year.
It's a beautiful film, full of dick and fart jokes, and Fellini big breast wish fulfilment scenarios(or memories?), as well as truly beautiful use of snow and blowing pollen.A warm, funny, charming film, that is accessible, while densely weaving many of the directors central preoccupations and stylistic signatures; the panning camera shots faces lined in a row, the accordion circus music, people dancing in circles, harems, the surreal giant Mussolini head during the imaginary wedding, and a documentary like narrator to guide us through (or attempt to until the people start throwing things at him) the ancient history of the place.
"8 1/2" is Fellini's best, "Juliet Of The Spirits" and "Satyricon" are glutenous visual feasts for the eyes and the senses, "Roma" is clever and revolutionary, but ultimately too smart and cold for its own good, but "Amaracord" seems just right. It balances the visual excesses with the sincerity and nostalgia. The characters are warm but flat, at times viscous even.
We all cynically eschew and sweetly rose color our pasts, and in the end years feel like minutes, and only the big moments stand out. Fellini compresses a series of stories perhaps from a lifetime, into small episodes, vignettes, and montage. For all the broad strokes there are still plenty of moments of subtle humor; the distracted priest complaining to his assistant about the order of the flowers in the vases on the alter, while receiving a confession, "everything has it's place for aesthetic reasons", being a joke that works on many levels.
There's a winning combination of low brow laughs with high art techniques, that bridges Fellini's early films with his later ones. If you like movies you should see it. Even if you don't love it, you cant help but be impressed.

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