Amelia and Pippo are reunited after several decades to perform their old music-hall act (imitating Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) on a TV variety show. It's both a touchingly nostalgic ... See full summary »
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In first century Rome, two student friends, Encolpio and Ascilto, argue about ownership of the boy Gitone, divide their belongings and split up. The boy, allowed to choose who he goes with, chooses Ascilto. Only a sudden earthquake saves Encolpio from suicide. We follow Encolpio through a series of adventures, where he is eventually reunited with Ascilto, and which culminates in them helping a man kidnap a hermaphrodite demi-god from a temple. The god dies, and as punishment Encolpio becomes impotent. We then follow them in search of a cure. The film is loosely based on the book Satyricon by Gaius Petronius Arbiter, the "Arbiter of Elegance" in the court of Nero. The book has only survived in fragments, and the film reflects this by being very fragmentary itself, even stopping in mid-sentence. Written by
Steven Pemberton <Steven.Pemberton@cwi.nl>
There's not much of a story in SATYRICON: we follow the disjointed "adventures" of two young men during decadent ancient Rome. What follows though is pure visual brilliance. The film reminded me a lot of psychedelic European comic books of the late 1960s and 1970s. I saw this Fellini film on TV, in pan and scan, and even though SATYRICON has to be seen on widescreen format, the cropped version was still mighty impressive to look at. But to experience the complete visual splendor of the film, widescreen is simply a must!
The film did drag here and there (certainly with Fellini letting some vignettes last longer than they should) but overall, the cumulative effect of all the stories creates a unique visceral experience that's seldom seen, back then or since. My only critique with SATYRICON is that in the end, it feels more like some avant-guard experimental theater experience than an actual film. The set-pieces are so stagy that SATYRICON often looks like a filmed stage play. This doesn't make the film bad but its staginess detracts a bit from achieving the perfect surreal effect that only a true cinematic experience can recreate. I could not immerse myself 100% in it because the staginess kept reminding me that I was watching a film. Even Pauline Kael said SATYRICON felt like 2 hours of people walking along walls. That's a bit of an exaggeration but I agree with her point. The staginess (which I'm aware is part of the surreal effect Fellini wanted to create) keeps SATYRICON from being a definitive masterpiece.
Even so, Fellini's SATYRICON is worth seeing for anyone who's into bawdy, surreal visual feasts. It's a one-of-a-kind experience.
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