Monday 3 December 2012
Amarcord was to Fellini what Fanny & Alexander was to Bergman, Radio Days was to Woody and The Mirror was to Tarkovsky – a deeply semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age film. At once carnivalesque, gleefully ribald, riotously funny, bitingly self-deprecatory, decidedly anti-authoritarian, warmly nostalgic and quietly heartwarming, the film chronicled Fellini’s growing up in a closely-knit coastal village called Rimini in 1930s Mussolini-ruled Italy. The film’s principal protagonist is a libidinous teenager and is narrated by a likeable old man (stand-ins for, respectively, Fellini’s younger self, and his wizened older self looking back at his life); the story comprised of a host of colourful, over-the-top and unforgettably etched characters – the hilariously short-tempered father, the unabashedly vulgar grandfather, the lunatic uncle, the gorgeous lady the whole town is crazy for, the enormous-bosomed lady he secretly lusts after, the poker-faced street vendor, the deadpan church priest, the neurotic school teachers, the loser friends, the blind accordion player et al. The film is littered with bawdy humour that is bound to elicit belly-laughter, and was interspersed with moments of humanism and introspection. Nothing was sacrosanct enough to escape Fellini’s anti-establishmentarian, irreverent and subversive barbs – be it the strong Catholic traditions, Italy’s tryst with fascism, or the importance laid on hierarchy in society. He also infused the proceedings with an overtly absurdist and farcical tone, and filled it with myths, legends and dream-like moments, in order to impress upon the unreliable and exaggerating nature of memory – and they were wonderfully complemented by the surrealistic photography, the deliberately artificial set-pieces, and Nina Rota’s brilliant score which was operatic one moment and evocative the other.
Director: Federico Fellini
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Coming-of-Age