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Carmen Piccini's delightful documentary "The Magic of Fellini" was shown recently on the Sundance channel. It was a complete surprise because of its subject, Federico Fellini, who was one of the best directors of Italy of the last century, one would think needed no explanation about what made him one of the most admired figures of the Italian cinema. Ms. Piccini explores the man who was a legend and in less than one hour she makes us feel as though one knew this charismatic man intimately.
What comes across in the film is Fellini's genius. He was a man who basically had the ideas in his mind and who seldom bothered to write a screen play detailing each scene of the film he was directing. Fellini was a master of the improvisation style and as such, he gave his actors a general guide line to follow as most of the dialog was added in the editing. He was famous for having some of the American stars he employed in his films just move their lips and concentrating on the characters they were creating.
There are hilarious interviews on camera with Anthony Quinn, whose Zampano, in "La Strada" was perhaps his best film work, and with Donald Sutherland, who played Casanova for the master. Donald Sutherland is seen mumbling numbers in Italian that were later dubbed with an actor's voice speaking the great lines Fellini and his collaborators added later on. Claudia Cardinale is also seen in an interview on camera as she tries to explains the magic of working with Fellini.
Ms Piccini has included some of the best moments in the films Fellini directed such as the sequence when Anita Ekberg enters the Trevi fountain in Rome, in "La dolce vita". She also includes two of the best scenes from "Le notti di Cabiria" in which Giulietta Massina is seen dancing with the film star portrayed by Amadeo Nazzari, and later on as the film is ending when one sees Cabiria shedding tears as she walks home at the end of the picture.
This documentary is essential for admirers of Federico Fellini and Carmen Piccini has made it possible to the great director's fans to discover yet another layer of the man who was an absolute original.
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