Fellini Marathon

There are many, many gaps in my cinematic knowledge. One of the more glaring ones was that I hadn't seen more than two films by Italian master Federico Fellini. The films I had seen were great. La Strada is still bewildering and strange while La Dolce Vita envelops you in a strange kind of decadence that none other than Fellini can conjure up. Arguably, these two films are required viewing for any film nut. But there was still a behemoth that was left untackled, 8 ½.

Nights of Cabiria (1957)

It may be my favorite Fellini film. I don't think Giulietta Masina was ever better than in this film about a low-end prostitute trying to keep her head above water. The description may seem depressing but the film is anything but. It is joyous and alive as it follows Cabiria around Rome as she gets into situation after situation that threatens to overwhelm her but never does. Her spirit cannot break. It has scene after scene that stays with you. Most notably, the one with the hypnotist where she reveals how sweet she truly is. And, of course, the ending.


They call this film the consummation of Fellini's talents. I disagree. This film is impressive but it never truly connects with you. I felt much like Guido, aloof. The only moments that really resonated with me were the ones with Guido's wife. Otherwise, I think the film only works as an intellectual experience which sometimes isn't really appealing. It's probably the weakest of his films that I've actually still liked.

Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Out of the six Fellini films I've seen, I only actively dislike this one. This is merely Fellini indulging himself but in the worst way possible. I do understand that this film mostly composed of Fellini's obsessions but it's just not very interesting and he doesn't give Giulietta Masina much to do other than stand around. Once again, there's just nothing for me to hold on to.

Amarcord (1973)

The last film of note from Federico Fellini. It's also one of his best (though not as good as his earlier films.) The title of this film means 'I Remember' and no other title could fit better. Fellini gets to revisit his childhood town and all the memories associated with it. It also means he can explore the origins of all his obsessions. The reason why this film works and why something like Juliet of the Spirits didn't is because here we have something to care for. The film is interesting and playful which I think most of Fellini's great films tend to be.

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