“Federico Fellini’s fourth film to win the foreign Oscar, 1973’s AMARCORD will receive a special tribute at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, which runs September 2-12,” writes Ryan Lattanzio in Indiewire.
“A new restoration from eminent preservation entity Cineteca di Bologna will world-premiere …at the festival,” he continues. The film “boasts a menagerie of eccentric, colorful characters…Nina Rota, of course, delivers yet another magical score.”
In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Fellini also received two additional Academy Award nominations for AMARCORD: Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.
Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, loved the film when it opened, writing: “It’s an extravagantly funny, sometimes dreamlike evocation of a year in the life of a small Italian coastal town in the nineteen-thirties, not as it literally was, perhaps, but as it is recalled by a director with a superstar’s access to the resources of the Italian film industry and a piper’s command over our imaginations. When Mr. Fellini is working in peak condition, as he is in AMARCORD (the vernacular for ‘I remember’ in Romagna), he somehow brings out the best in us. We become more humane, less stuffy, more appreciative of the profound importance of attitudes that in other circumstances would seem merely eccentric if not lunatic…AMARCORD is as full of tales as Scheherazade, some romantic, some slapstick, some elegiacal, some bawdy, some as mysterious as the unexpected sight of a peacock flying through a light snowfall. It’s a film of exhilarating beauty.”
AMARCORD is nostalgia, a warm recreation of the world of Fellini’s childhood, but it is not merely memory, argues critic Sam Rohdie, it is a fantastical universe of its own. “It is an imaginary town with imaginary, projected characters who are fragments, magnifications, caricatures, and grotesques, as in a dream.” To watch the film is to share Fellini’s own flickering daydream, a mixture of recollection and fantasy.
Fellini’s illustration for the character of Aurelio Biondi, the short fused working class father of the teen protagonist, Titta.
“There was his sketching and doodling, essentially a playing,” Rohdie continues, “a search for the shape of the film in these images, a process of seeking out and discovery that carried over into the actual filming, where the film you see is the film being discovered in the process of filming, as if there were no ‘before’ to it, as if the film had been found. It is not a record, then, of something outside it but an expression of an inspiration chanced upon at the moment of filming.”
Felliini’s film technique underscores this sense of illusion by celebrating the artificiality of the effects. One night a majestic cruise ship passes close by the town, like a mystical apparition. The townspeople marvel as it steams by, lights aglow in the fog. Yet the ship was constructed of cardboard, the ocean was black plastic, it was all cinema magic.
Rohdie concludes: “”The essential subject of Fellini’s films, and particularly of the late ones, like AMARCORD is the cinema itself, another world: ephemeral, touching, ineffable, comic, and grand . . . like a pheasant in the snow.”
My favorite of Rohdie’s observations: “AMARCORD is like a circus, composed of numbers, perfectly linear and sequential but whose links are neither logical, dramatic, nor narratively motivated. Each of the numbers in the film is a circus act, and the actors are the circus clowns.”