In 1914, a luxury ship leaves Italy in order to scatter the ashes of a famous opera singer. A lovable bumbling journalist chronicles the voyage and meets the singer's many eccentric friends and admirers.
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>
The earth has not managed to swallow me into the abyss nor has the sea engulfed me with its raging storms. I have fled from the law and escaped the arena. I've even stained my hands with blood only to end up here, destitute, exiled from my country, abandoned!
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I've voted 8 out of 10 for Fellini Satyricon, but I can imagine that a few people may find that to be an overly indulgent grade. Actually, I know that a few people will feel that way -- I've shown it to several friends, and they all agree it looks beautiful and manages to amuse on numerous occasions. But they don't get much more out of it. That's too bad for them. Aaaw yeah.
As Vincent Canby said in his review, from 1970 in the New York Times, 'Fellini Satyricon is its own justification'. This movie exists purely to engage on an aesthetic level. The surrealism, the carnival-of-life atmosphere, the monumental pageantry, the visual juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness, and the black humour are all the film possesses and are all it requires. I believe that Fellini's intention with this film was simply to entertain. And he was a master entertainer, no doubt.
Don't expect much in the way of characterisation, of complex plot developments, or of nifty moral expression. This is a film that looks and sounds beautiful, and it manages to hold your interest (or mine anyway, I can't speak for everyone) for two brief hours by doing just that. Fellini = Godlike genius.
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