Amarcord (1973) from Tuna
Amarcord is essentially Federico Fellini's love poem to
Rimini, the small town where he grew up in the 30s. In fact, the title
itself is a phrase ("I Remember") in the Rimini dialect (Romagna) rather than
proper Italian. This is essentially a character piece rather than a
plot-driven story, but in this case the main character is the town
itself. Fellini paints a detailed portrait of the town, the influences
of Fascism, and many of the townspeople. The film opens with puffballs
from dandelions blowing into town announcing spring, and covers a full
year. We, along with the young men of the town, follow the pendulous
motion of "Sil Vous Plait's" posterior. We feel the seasons, live
through the frustrations of adolescence, and watch as most of the
adult population accepts Fascism.
Criterion released this film some years ago, as their fourth DVD, but technology has advanced to the point that they were able to create a far superior version, and added a disk of special features, as well as a commentary by two Fellini experts. The Fellini experts, who seem to have built entire careers just finding the symbolism in the master's work, found plenty here. They obsessed on the role of women in the spread of Fascism, using the status of women as allegory, or something equally academic. Roger Ebert, on the other had, saw the film the way I did, as a loving remembrance of the town where Fellini was raised, and the simple yet wonderful people who inhabited it. There is some justification for Ebert's position, as many involved in the production, when questioned in the special features, including Fellini himself, agreed with Ebert's view of the film. Of course, I learned from a High School English teacher that just because an author claims they put no symbolism into a work, it doesn't mean the symbolism isn't there.
In my extensive experience traveling, I have found that people all over the world are more alike than different, which helps explain why there is a great deal that is universal in the portrait of this Italian town. Amarcord is widely considered one of Fellini's best films and is probably his most personal and accessible. Perhaps his funniest as well. And his visuals are as brilliant as ever, the most memorable of which is of a peacock spreading its wings in a snowstorm. Even if you usually don't like character pieces or work by arthouse directors, you may well enjoy this one.
Return to the Movie House home page