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This film is a life journey. Filled with indelible images: The peacock in the middle of the snow, the awesome vision of the ocean liner--and the blind man crying out: "What's it like, what's it like?", the belly-laugh inducing introduction to each of the instructors at school, the beautiful people, the grotesques. Like life itself, the movie can be perplexing and enigmatic, sometimes magical, sometimes, in the face of the political climate and history, frightening as "simple people just trying to live get caught up in the times they were themselves creating". I don't think any film I've ever seen has so completely captured with such profound insight and simplicity the experience of losing a parent: The visit by the father and son in the hospital in which the mother realizes the awesome finality about to approach, and the son is blissfully unaware in his adolescent "immortality", and the total feeling of quiet and emptiness as the father sits at the dining room table, formerly filled with joyful, loud, noisy life--now emptier than could have ever been imagined before--this whole sequence comes as a powerful conclusion to a stunning film. With a final coda a la 8 1/2, Fellini embraces the audience, telling them not to worry--memories go on, life goes on, changed, altered forever perhaps, but it goes on, beautifully, enigmatically, magically.
When "Amarcord" had it's American premier at the Plaza Theatre on East
58th Street in New York, I was working as the manager of The Paris
Theatre, also on 58th Street, just 2 blocks west, behind Bergdorf's and
facing the front of the Plaza Hotel.
Both theatres were part of the Cinema-5 circuit of first-run theatres in Manhattan. I often took advantage of the pass privileges that theatres extend to one another and always attended every other theatre in the city to sample their fare.
As I often worked as 'relief' manager of The Plaza, I was well known to the the crew there and had easy access to that theatre at all times. When I first sat through "Amarcord" during it's opening, I realized that I had just seen "THE Finest Film Ever Made". When I told this to others, I was often scoffed at. I was told that the 'Finest Film' hadn't been made yet. That was until the scoffers saw the film for themselves. Every friend I brought to The Plaza to see "Amarcord" was as enchanted with the film as I was.
During it's opening run at the Plaza Theatre in 1974, I must have seen the film at least 50 times. I next saw "Amarcord" at an art house in another city in 1980. Yes, it was still the best film. In the 6 years since it's USA premier I can't say I saw any film better than "Amarcord."
Then, when it was at long last released on videotape in the 1990's, I purchased the tape. When I watched the tape I wept. Yes, it was STILL the finest film ever made. I DO think the world of "Nights of Cabiria", "La Strada", "La Dolce Vita" and "8 1/2". But "Amarcord" is more than just Fellini's greatest work. It is greater than ANY other film, made by any other person or group of persons. I know now, 27 years after I first saw this film, that I will certainly say, 27 years in the future: This is THE film that no film-maker can top.
..In my humble opinion, of course....
I never thought of this movie as carnivalesque, but you could argue about
that. I like to think it is surrealistic in the way that your memory can
distort history and all that you once dreamed of or was scared of. Those
memories evolve into caricatures of persons, their behaviour and
of situations. We not only see Federico's memories, but also the supposed
memories of people once surrounding him.
Also this is said to be Fellini's most accessible film. Well, I was 15 when I saw it first, and it is still one of my favorites. About 10 Fellini-films later I read that this won the academy-award for best foreign picture, which I never expected, but think is quite rightly. The many surrealistic scenes stick to the mind for decades. Hilarious, tragic, oppressive (upcoming fascism: so most of it must take place just before ww2), nostalgic, poetic: there's something for everyone (and every age) to appeal to, while Fellini makes no compromises. If this was higher-paced, you wouldn't have time to appreciate the details, the photography and the music (Nino Rota). Don't look for a plot here.
The cinematography (Giuseppe Rotunno) has comparable feel with some films by Mike Nichols (Catch-22 (1970), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Graduate (1967)). Rotunno worked with Mike Nichols on three films: Carnal Knowledge, Regarding Henry and Wolf. And with Fellini on 9 films (e.g. City of women (1980)). I don't know if this is relevant, but Fellini is said to have had a conversation with Mike Nichols during the production of Catch-22. Otherwise I can't think of many films that are comparable with this fabulous collage of events happening apparently in spring, summer, autumn, winter and ends in spring to conclude some cycle (generation ?) accompanied by beautiful distinctive music. Why o why can't we vote 11 :(
I wrote the previous review having just walked to my room after viewing
Amarcord. I was ecstatic, and my comments were vague. Now that I have raved,
I would now like to show a few of this film's merits.
I had previously thought that Fellini as a filmmaker had died after 8 1/2. His films following that seemed utterly pretentious, as if the director had lost his touch and was trying desperately to figure out what people had liked so much about his films (the exemplary masterpieces being La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, La Dolce Vita, and 8 1/2). I thought that he had decided that it was off-the-wall flamboyancy and densely-layered symbolism that made his films great, and that he was mistaken. I still think this is true for his immediately post-8 1/2 films (Giulietta of the Spirits, Satyricon, and Roma, to be exact). Then, I have now discovered, he made a new discovery.
To be truthful, Amarcord is not much like his pre-Juliette of the Spirits films, his Golden Age. It is, in fact, a lot like the three films of his that I truly dislike, again, Juliette of the Spirits, Satyricon, and Roma. Amarcord, like those films, is quite flamboyant - the colors are orgasmic, as they were in those three bad films, the sex is exaggerated (sort of as if these films all took place in that fantasy world where Guido from 8 1/2 had his harem), and the characters are sort of typical or stereotypical.
So what is different about Amarcord? Well, I think the difference is sincerity. In fact, I would say that Fellini's major trait as a director is not flamboyancy, but sentimentalism. UH-OH! That dreaded word! To call a film "sentimental" is an insult. I do not understand this. In all his best films, Federico Fellini absolutely loves his characters. Often, you will notice that a director loathes the characters of his film, either loathes or just feels cynical and indifferent. This is the trait of such much-ballyhooed films as Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, The Matrix, Lola Rennt, etc. Fellini's characters are his children. A couple of filmmakers have restarted this trend, Paul Thomas Anderson of Boogie Nights and Magnolia fame is the best example. While I think that he is still a maturing filmmaker, he is already a great one. And even towards his most despicible characters he shows love.
Anyway, back to Amarcord, the structure of this film is exquisite. It has no real plot line, which is great. Plot is unnecessary. I would much rather experience a world than a contrived story. Fellini has realized this forever. Even his first film, Variety Lights (it was co-directed, actually) has a lack of plot. The wonderful characters just exist, and you exist along with them. Amarcord's script is revolutionary. How to describe it... Actually, I think of Roma as Fellini's failed attempt to make Amarcord. It is a tourists' guide of sorts to Rome. There, Fellini tried to make a love poem to Rome while also mixing in a decay-of-Europe theme, and it never worked. It felt awfully forced. Amarcord also has one very serious subject: the rise of Fascism in Italy. Many critics have complained about Fellini not criticizing the Fascist Party in this film, but rather treating it kindly, for the most part. In fact, all of the characters whom you fall in love with in the film, except for one man (who we identify, though incorrectly, as Fellini's own father), love and support Mussolini. Some people are absolutely outraged at this prospect, believing that Fellini is doing a great disservice to his country. This is nuts! I think we're lucky he had any of his characters criticize the Fascist party, because, truth be told, the people of the Italian countryside loved the Fascist Party until after the onset of WWII (see Vittorio de Sica's rather pretentious _Two Women_ to see this; he actually creates a very unbelievable character to oppose the Fascists in that film). The same goes for the Nazis in Germany. The fascist parties of Europe helped them out of the Great Depression (and consequently threw them into a horrible war), so it is no wonder they were beloved by their countrymen. To say different is simply revisionist history.
I don't have much more I want to say, although there is plenty left to discuss. This film is a masterpiece. And though it may be sacrilige, this is my favorite Fellini film. 10/10
This film was first recommended to me by a high school friend who typically enjoys a different kind of film than I. He counts Reservoir Dogs and Mean Streets among his favorites; I am partial to Notorious and Annie Hall. But for his sake, I watched Amarcord, and in the past years have found myself returning to it time and again. I haven't seen any other movies by Mr. Fellini, so I can judge this film only against itself. By such standards, it is a masterpiece. Never have I seen Italy portrayed as lovingly, nor the spectrum of childhood emotions - happiness, love, frustration - represented as frankly. The images are spellbinding - sunlight and fog and great dark seas. Yesterdays are perfect, it would seem, and love exists in what we can remember. So my friend got it right with this one. Amarcord is a kind of magic only the very best in cinema inspire within us. It's the magic that makes us remember.
Federico Fellini's "Amardord" is a series of sketches about his youth
in a seaside town Rimini in the 1930s. In this regard it reminds
another favorite film of mine, "Fellini's Roma". After repeat viewing,
I can understand why many viewers may not like Fellini, especially his
so called "later films" "Amarcord" may seem too crowded, too loud, too
vulgar, too bawdy, and too self-indulgent. It is all true, it is. But
so is life loud but tender, vulgar but touching, self-indulgent but
full of humor, love and compassion to the film's eccentric characters.
It's been said a lot about memorable scenes and images in "Amarcord":
yes, the famous peacock that spreads its plumage on the snow, a
magnificent ocean liner that is been greeted by the townspeople, a
local tobacconist a woman of such size and proportions that it could
be simply dangerous for the teenage boys to try and make their dreams
about her come true. I love "Amarcord" always have perhaps, Fellini
played all the right notes for me or more likely, Nino Rota wrote his
best musical score for the film which could be the best score ever. My
favorite image in the film Gradisca's (local beautician) walk
accompanied by Rota's music. What is it in the way Italian women walk,
the way their hips sway? Monica Belucci in "Malena", Sofia Lauren in
"Marriage Italian Style"? And Magali Noël as object of every man's in
Rimini desire Gradisca ("Help Yourself").
Wonderful film by the power of his magic, by the light of his memory, the great master saved the town where he was young and happy. We can visit it as often as we'd like and it won't go away and disappear - Fellini's Rimini is captured forever.
Federico Fellini's "Amarcord" is perhaps the flamboyant directors most entertaining and autobiographical film. His personal recollections on growing up in 1930's pre-war Italy under control of Fascism and the Church, are recorded with lively, colorful images. Fellini stylishly evokes his unique vision of provincial Rimini(Where he was born)through an adolescent viewpoint. The youthful irreverence, casual vulgarity. and tawdry exuberance of the characters flow unrestrained throughout the narrative. Fellini vividly recreates a carnival-like atmosphere filled with incident and observation. He excelled at constructing private worlds; distinct and spirited in their sense of community and place. In "Amarcord" childhood perceptions and improbable encounters are summoned via symbols, dreams, and illusions. Similar to Pirandello, the nature of truth becomes suspect. Fellini does little to dispel this notion. He once stated that 'nothing stifles the imagination more than a good memory'. Fabrication with Fellini often times blends imperceptibly with reality. "Amarcord"(The title translates as "I Remember") is structured in a series of loosely connected tales. Detailed vignettes of public school shenanigans; curious instruction; and the hyper-critical approach of the church. Cinematographer Guiseppe Rotuno favors shooting with a short lense to exaggerate the perspective. He frequently films the sizable features of the actors in extreme close-up contributing to the film's overstated visuals. Fellini was notorious for his preference of using actors with strange and unusual faces. He favored grotesqueness over craft for the most part. (The majority of the cast were selected from amateur groups all over Northern Italy. "Amarcord" is filled with memorable and eccentric characters including a blind accordianist; a foul-mouthed midget nun; a buxom tobacco store owner with a penchant for young men; a lascivious and gaseous grandfather; Volpina the town nymph; Theo the sexually-repressed, mad uncle; and an ever present dim-witted street vendor. Erratic personalities who consistently insist on indulging their illusions. The film uses an on-screen narrator who comments directly into the camera about Rimini's storied past. The pedantic commentator's articulate and austere tone is comically undercut by some off-screen antics.(Ill-timed, loud raspberries; well-tossed snowballs; general heckling, etc.) In the course of the film, an array of odd processions confront the spectator from every conceivable angle. Several of Fellini's films share this infinite movement of characters. Much of the scenario is taken up by the presentation of these large groups of comic figures as they interact around town. "Amarcord", Fellini's last commercial success, is an elaborate nostalgia piece populated with exotic individuals. Endearing misfits who seem to fit perfectly in the director's unconventional universe. One may not know where Fellini is heading half the time, but that's part of his lasting appeal. And in "Amarcord, make no mistake, Fellini is ALL over the place. KB
"Amarcord" was the first Fellini film I saw, about two years ago. It
was on TV at 4 o'clock a.m. and I was very sleepy, but I watched it
till the end. I wasn't disappointed at all, and I do want to watch it
It's not hard to say why this is considered one of Federico Fellini's masterpieces. "Amarcord" (which means "I remember" in the Italian dialect of Emilia-Romagna, the region in which Fellini was born and where the film is set) is one of the most dazzling, personal films you'll ever see. Though Fellini denied that the film is autobiographical (but agreed that has similarities with his own childhood), he made some of the most magic scenes in film history. Nino Rota's unforgettable music score is perfect to highlight the story of a teenage boy's daydreaming (and many other people) in the fascist 1930s Italy. There's a sentence written by the Brazilian author Machado de Assis in one of his novels that is suitable for this magnificent film: "O menino é o pai do homem" ("The Boy is The Man's Father").
A well deserved Best Foreign Film Oscar (Nino Rota should've won too he wasn't even nominated!). 10 out of 10.
In the corners of the mind there are memories....bitter, sweet, scary,
embarrassing, wonderful....and they topple out unexpectedly and for little
reason at any moment.
Such is Fellini's treatment of this film. With no real story line, we are offered a series of events....a collection drawn from his own experiences and I would suspect from his vivid imagination.
While all the characters are interesting in their earthy approach to life and its problems, some of the episodes related are scarcely worth mentioning while others are quite outstanding in their appeal. I like particularly the Greek lesson in which a little girl is taught correct pronunciation, the excitement of a celebratory bonfire with little boys playfully exploding crackers among unsuspecting villagers, a priest rather too interested in details during the confessional, Uncle Teo's eccentric behaviour and the rifle fire bringing down the bells from the belfry.
There are magic moments too. The builder afloat with friends on a calm sea looks up at the night sky filled with stars. Turning philosopher he muses at the miracle. "What keeps all that stuff up there?" he asks. and thoughtfully adds "There are no foundations!"
Another beautiful moment is the announcement of Spring after the long cold icy Winter when Nature sets free all the fluffy seeds drifting about in the wind.
In retrospect there is something in this film for everybody. I am surprised how many of the little episodes bring to mind incidents in my own life which I have long forgotten.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I write this for mainly two reasons: 1. As I clicked through a few
pages of reviews, most of them were raving madly about Fellini, not
many gave below 10, and then again, not much lower. 2. When I stopped
to read a few of them, they contained obvious misinterpretations of the
movie (which was funny) and none of them came up with a significant
argument as to why the movie was good but just not for my taste.
With the disclaimer done, here's my feelings about the piece: Fireworks. Loud, full of cracks, constantly surprising and distracting you with big flashes and quick satisfaction.
This movie represents the life in this seaside little city, but does so via caricatures. Very loud, very energetic, very... "Italian" caricatures, you could say. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing, except that it probably needs to be funny most of the time. Which it isn't. It consists mainly of slapstick humor, slight sexual references, kids being cheeky, the works. Sure, it is entertaining at times, but 2 hours of it?
I did not feel much connection to the characters, some, indeed, I did not really recognize in the middle of the constant mess of the screen (admittedly, the woman who dies left me a bit confused). As there is no plot, you don't really see anyone grow, just really pass the time, but I may be a sucker for plots, so enough about that.
There are several special events that go on to show how the people at the time lived them. I interpreted them mostly as a mockery of the masses, especially for the fascist parade. Entertaining, in fact, but they're so fast and superficial that.. one's left with a feeling of "..that's what you wanted to show?"
One thing I did enjoy from the constant mess was how some scenes were composed of irrelevant people who were bluntly being so. Comes to mind especially the construction scene, where, out of 20 workers, none was doing absolutely anything that could be valued in an actual construction site.
So, to wrap-up, outside of a few good jokes, interesting moments (e.g.: poetry) and nice recreations, this film is simply too much for too little. I would consider watching it again, were it shortened to 30 minutes.
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