8 user 34 critic

The Clowns (1970)

I clowns (original title)
A ragout of real memories and mockumentary, as Fellini explores a childhood obsession: circus clowns.


Federico Fellini

Watch Now

With Prime Video

4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An orchestra assmbles for a rehearsal in an ancient chapel under the inquisive eyes of a TV documentary crew, but an uprising breaks out.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Balduin Baas, Clara Colosimo, Elizabeth Labi
Intervista (1987)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Federico Fellini accept the request of a television crew to be interviewed about his carreer, narrating memories, dreams, realities and fantasies.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Sergio Rubini, Antonella Ponziani, Maurizio Mein
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The amusing and entertaining adventures of a recently released mental patient and his band of misfits, discover conspiracies to concur while looking for love.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Paolo Villaggio, Nadia Ottaviani
Drama | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Freddie Jones, Barbara Jefford, Victor Poletti
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Casanova is a libertine, performing seductions and sexual feats. But he is really interested in someone, and is he really an interesting person? Is he really alive?

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Donald Sutherland, Tina Aumont, Cicely Browne
Roma (1972)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A fluid, unconnected and sometimes chaotic procession of scenes detailing the various people and events of life in Italy's capital, most of it based on director Federico Fellini's life.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Britta Barnes, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Fiona Florence
City of Women (1980)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A businessman finds himself trapped at a hotel and threatened by women en masse.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anna Prucnal, Bernice Stegers
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

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 »

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina, Franco Fabrizi
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Visions, memories, and mysticism all help a 40-something woman to find the strength to leave her cheating husband.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Giulietta Masina, Sandra Milo, Mario Pisu
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A beautiful but ambitious young woman joins a traveling troupe of third-rate vaudevillians and inadvertently causes jealousy and emotional crises.

Directors: Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada
Stars: Peppino De Filippo, Carla Del Poggio, Giulietta Masina
Drama | Fantasy | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A series of disjointed mythical tales set in first century Rome.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

During a day in their honeymoon, a couple is separated by the city's lust and the desires it produces.

Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Alberto Sordi, Giulietta Masina, Brunella Bovo


Cast overview, first billed only:
Riccardo Billi Riccardo Billi ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Billi)
Federico Fellini ... Himself
Gigi Reder Gigi Reder ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Reder)
Tino Scotti Tino Scotti ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Scotti)
Valentini Valentini ... Himself - Italian Clown
Fanfulla ... Himself - Italian Clown
Merli Merli ... Himself - Italian Clown
Carlo Rizzo Carlo Rizzo ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Rizzo)
Alberto Colombaioni Alberto Colombaioni ... Themselves - Italian Clowns (as I 4 Colombaioni)
Pistoni Pistoni ... Himself - Italian Clown
Martana Martana ... Themselves - Italian Clowns (as I Martana)
Giacomo Furia Giacomo Furia ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Furia)
Alvaro Vitali ... Himself (as The Troupe)
Dante Maggio Dante Maggio ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Maggio)
Galliano Sbarra Galliano Sbarra ... Himself - Italian Clown (as Sbarra)


Fellini exposes his great attraction for the clowns and the world of the circus first recalling a childhood experience when the circus arrives nearby his home. Then he joins his crew and travel from Italy to Paris chasing the last greatest European clowns still live in these countries. He also meets Anita Ekberg trying to buy a panther in a circus. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

clown | circus | childhood | memory | italy | See All (16) »


G | See all certifications »



Italy | France | West Germany


Italian | French | German

Release Date:

25 December 1970 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Clowns See more »

Filming Locations:

Sabaudia, Latina, Lazio, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Cinecittà: La casa di F. Fellini (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Just watch "I Clowns", if they please(d) you, you'll respect them, if they scare(d) you, you'll understand them ...
30 August 2013 | by ElMaruecan82See all my reviews

As far back as I can remember, I was always scared by clowns. Literally, my "coulrophobia" (that's the right word) happens to be my first life's episode I ever remember. So, allow me to start this review like Fellini did in his semi-documentary "I Clowns".

My first encounter with clowns was on TV (still a big screen from children's eyes) and being a sickly timid boy, I have always been unsettled by abnormality, let alone these creepy chalky faces with bright make-up. A few days later, during my 3rd birthday party, I saw one of my cousins being made-up as a clown and as fast as I could, I ran immediately to my aunt's knee and pretended to sleep, forcing my eyes to stay closed. Clowns became the incarnation of a devil I ignored all about.

And they were everywhere, I could hear their irritating voices on circus TV programs, watch them bullying poor "Dumbo", or hanging in these ugly paintings. The year after the birthday episode, my school's holiday party featured the two most famous clowns of my country. And I had to hide somewhere waiting for my Dad to take me, but the nightmare wasn't over yet: the same night, he bought me a 'memory' card game, and guess what? There were clowns there too, especially one picture that scared me so much I didn't even have the courage to throw it, I only left in a drawer. My cousin, who knew about my phobia, found it one day, and put it right before my eyes, laughing hysterically.

And I still remember the nightmares that picture gave me. Well, you got the point, clowns can truly affect a child, and coulrophobia is no joke. So, I could easily respond to the kid's traumatic experience in the opening sequence of Fellini"s "I Clowns". Their shadowy silhouettes as soon as the fanfare starts seemed to announce an ominous coming and as soon as they get in the spotlight for a four or five minutes of grotesque mayhem and ugliness, epitomizing everything I hated about them, I wanted the show to stop. Thanks, lord, I wasn't the only one, Fellini was scared by clowns, and hell, even Bart Simpson, the coolest boy ever, didn't want to sleep, fearing that the creepy clown-like bed would eat him.

My phobia slowly faded out, and I started to look at clowns more like pathetic characters, supposed to make us laugh of their ridicule aspect. And the point of Fellini's documentary is to try to understand the psychological roots of those half-repulsion half-fascination reactions clowns generally inspire. The study starts by exploring the probable causes of the child's fear: clowns reminded him of real eccentric people from the neighborhood: retarded, buffoons, creeps, freaks, genuinely hideous and irritating, but their personalities was even scarier because they were real while clowns are not.

Clowns are rooted in theater's history; their masks embody the least noble of human condition, allowing us to laugh at them, instead of fearing them. They have a cathartic power that probably inspired most of Fellini's approach to life. As I titled in my review of "Amarcord", we're all clowns in the big top of life. And Fellini's world can be regarded as a great circus, where the protagonists are all trapped in their own clowns' masks, while we watch their show. A clown can be a prankster, naive, well-mannered or mean-spirited, the purpose is to make us laugh, as if the ultimate aspect of life was absurdity and if life is all a joke, let's end with a fitting punch-line. That's the core of Fellini's philosophy.

And Fellini is the Ringleader of this Circus, driven by Nino Rota's turbulent fanfares. And only Fellini could have made such a jovial and poignant tribute, exploring in a semi-documentary format (he plays his own role) the historical steps that forged the clowns' archetypes. From Comedia del Arte's pantomimes, Pierrot's eternal figure, and some personal creations, two preeminent figures will emerge and constitute the pattern of most clowns' shows: the gentle and clumsy Auguste, and the elegant, sophisticated and serious white-faced clown, the obligatory straight man. Basically, all the clowns' icons: Medrano, Zavata, Bozo or those who scared the hell out of you as children, carried the essence of today's comedy.

There are a lot of insightful moments in "I Clowns", which works as an educational film. It doesn't provide a definite answer about clowns, but only a sad report on today's detachment. The last climactic sequence where veteran clowns (who've been interviewed before) pay tribute to a late colleague whose name sunk into oblivion is the perfect illustration of that loneliness innate to the clowns reflecting our own cruelty. I almost felt guilty for having hated them so much, and I like to picture them as misunderstood outcasts. A film about them was long overdue, and only Fellini could have made such a vivid, absorbing portrayal, almost working on a self-referential level.

Indeed, look at that head-shot on IMDb, it's probably the most eloquent illustration of Fellini's vision: he's half a clown, half a man. He incarnates this duality that prevails in clowns, both as the creators of their own caricatures, as artists, and victims of it, as men. And their conditions are driven by the audiences, and sometimes, meaner and more cruel than any clown in any number. The fate of "Gelsomina" in "La Strada" is the most tragic illustration of clown's conditions. And after the film, I guess I had more respect to clowns for their daringness to embody the unpleasant traits of human condition.

But from that courage blooms something absolutely endearing and irresistible, elevating the notion of clown to a state-of-mind. It's not just about make-ups and circuses, Fellini, just like Chaplin, was a clown, embodying the only real truth about life: it a serious thing that shouldn't be taken seriously.

And when you get that, you can get any Fellini's film.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 8 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed