NBC Experiment in Television: Season 3, Episode 6

Fellini: A Director's Notebook (15 Mar. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Animation | Comedy | Drama
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Fellini discusses his views of making motion pictures and his unorthodox procedures. He seeks inspiration in various out of the way places. During this film viewers go with him to the ... See full summary »

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Title: Fellini: A Director's Notebook (15 Mar 1969)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Ennio Antonelli ...
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Caterina Boratto ...
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Marina Boratto ...
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Pasqualino De Santis ...
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Alvaro Vitali ...
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Fellini discusses his views of making motion pictures and his unorthodox procedures. He seeks inspiration in various out of the way places. During this film viewers go with him to the Colisseum at night, on a subway ride past Roman ruins, to the Appian Way, to a slaughterhouse, and on a visit to Marcello Mastroianni's house. Fellini also is seen in his own office interviewing a series of unusual characters seeking work or his help. Written by Anonymous

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15 March 1969 (USA)  »

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This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc Criterion Collection DVD for (1963). See more »

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Featured in Marcello Mastroianni: I Remember (1997) See more »

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8 1/2 Reloaded
22 September 2009 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Fellini - A Director's Notebook is to 8½ what Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry (1997) is to his Stardust Memories (1980). Allen's admiration for Fellini has been largely overshadowed by the influence of Bergman on him. In fact, Allen's career closely follows that of Fellini's even though the philosophical questions that Allen revisits is that of the Swedish. Stardust Memories (which, in a way, happens to be Woody's 8½th movie), like Fellini's 8½, is all about the director. Both movies are exercises in narcissism as many have pointed out. In both, the director treats himself as if he is the centre of the universe while the world around seems to exploit him despite his turmoil. In Deconstructing Harry, Allen comes full circle and, once and for all, accepts the fact that it is he who has been exploitative and that he has to let go of his balancing act between his fictional world and the real world. Likewise, in A Director's Notebook, Fellini studies his own self and, in an act of purging himself of the ego, reflects on how his relation has been with his actors and everyone else who has helped him gain the international reputation. Towards the end, when many actors and players try to impress the director with their skill set, Fellini tells us in the voice over:

"Yes, it might seem very cynical, very cruel. But no, I am very fond of all these characters who are always chasing after me, following me from one thing to another. They are all a little mad, I know that. They say they need me, but the truth is that I need them more." In one section in A Director's Notebook, Fellini visits his long time friend and movie star Marcello Mastroianni to audition him for the leading role in his unfinished film The Journey of G. Mastorna. Fellini tries a lot – adding make up, setting up wigs, going for multiple takes – to somehow get a shade of the cellist Mastorna out of Mastroianni, but finally resigns. When he turns down Mastroianni telling him that he wasn't into it at all, the actor quips back: "No Fellini, it's because now you have no faith. It's as if you are scared. If you could believe that I am Mastorna, I would automatically become Mastorna". Throughout the movie, Fellini examines the cost that he has to pay for conforming to his reputation, the cost to that has to be paid for him to remain the Fellini that the world knows him as (Fellini is notorious for rarely using the same actor more than once), the cost for imitating oneself just for the heck of it. Fellini's situation remains true for any filmmaker who tries to construct his fictional world the way he wants it, even at the cost of the real one – issues that both Woody Allen and his idol Bergman have explored time and again.

Fellini really pushes the boundaries of film-making over here. Unfolding as a tone poem in typical Markerian style, A Director's Notebook soon goes on to blend documentary and fiction to create a truly personal form of expression that seems to be way ahead of its time. Far from the assured and fluid camera work of 8½ and rightly so, the cinematography in A Director's Notebook is self-conscious, largely hand-held, seemingly offhand and purely functional all the way. Closer to a series of essays than a complete film, the movie seems to be one of the earliest examples of the kind of cinema that would later be explored deeply by filmmakers such as Werner Herzog and Jean-Luc Godard. What part of the film was scripted, what was improvised and what was plainly documented will remain a mystery, but what matters is the unique concoction that the director achieves by this mixture. Stacking various levels of reality over one another like 8½, but also taking it further, this stunning little gem from Fellini may just be the golden key required to unlock all his films that were to follow.


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