In a Medieval Roman chapel, now an oratorio, an elderly factotum sets up for rehearsal. The musicians arrive, joking and teasing. A union shop steward explains that a TV crew is there, talking to them is optional, and there will be no extra compensation. Musicians talk about their instruments. The German conductor arrives and puts them through their paces. He yells, he insults. The shop steward calls a 20 minute break. The conductor retreats to his dressing room and talks about how the world of music has changed, moving away from respect for the conductor. He returns to the rehearsal to find the orchestra in full revolt. What can bring them back to the music?Written by
amusing piece that perhaps loses a fair bit without awareness of the considerable turmoil within Italy at the time
Perhaps not your usual Fellini film, if there is such a thing, but, made between his Casanova (1976) and City of Women (1980), this is an intriguing if rather short and enigmatic piece. Ostensibly a documentary but almost as soon as the musicians begin turning up, all does not seem to be quite as expected. Has the director really found an orchestra with so many oddball characters? Is the German conductor a fascist dictator in disguise? Are the proceedings really to be monitored by a trade union shop steward? Is this more a comment upon Italian politics of the time than a showcase for music? All may be revealed to each upon his or her own viewing and interpretation but for me it is a brave and amusing piece that perhaps loses a fair bit without awareness of the considerable turmoil within Italy at the time. One of the most interesting elements happens to be that Nino Rota wrote the music that is rehearsed and then performed within the film and that it was one of the last things he did before dying the following year, having scored around 150 films including almost every single one for Federico Fellini.
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