Scen.: Federico Fellini, Tonino Guerra. F.: Giuseppe Rotunno. M.: Ruggero Mastroianni. Scgf.: Danilo Donati. Mus.: Nino Rota. Int.: Bruno Zanin (Titta), Pupella Maggio (Miranda), Armando Brancia (Aurelio), Stefano Proietti (Oliva), Giuseppe Ianigro (nonno di Titta), Nandino Orfei (il Pataca), Ciccio Ingrassia (Teo), Carla Mora (Gina), Magali Noël (Gradisca), Luigi Rossi (l’avvocato). Prod.: Franco Cristaldi per F.C., P.E.C.F.. DCP. D.: 125’. Col.
At over fifty, Fellini made two films about the cities of his life, Rome and Rimini. Made in close proximity to one another, the two movies ought to be considered as a pair. The screenwriters with whom Fellini re-created his past for each film were crucial figures, the Roman Bernardino Zapponi for Roma (1972) and Tonino Guerra from Romagna for Amarcord (1973). Roma is probably the greatest of Fellini’s forgotten films, while Amarcord is one of his most extraordinary works and the last movie he won an Oscar for (before winning the Oscar for lifetime achievement).
An oneiric abyss, according to Tullio Kezich, a film to love without hesitation. In fact, Amarcord is one of the movies filmmakers love most. Woody Allen recommends seeing it at least once a year, and Emir Kusturica claims it was his inspiration for making film. Fellini was truly gifted at hiding the deeper motives of his work, but this time he concealed nothing, “If you put amare (to love) and amaro (bitter), core (heart) and ricordare (to remember) together, you get Amarcord”. Of course, as with Roma, remembering is the film’s core. In it, Fellini proves a theorem of his own and of Italian auteur cinema: nothing is truer than what is entirely re-created. In this film, the re-creation of his memory is perfect and could not be truer: in fact, not a single meter of footage was shot in Rimini or even Romagna, and none of the starring actors were from Romagna! Production and costume designer Danilo Donati displayed great talent and accuracy in Roma and Amarcord, proceeding by analogy and chasing a cherished but hazy memory. Its final effect is a distillation of truth to the beat of Nino Rota’s music, which plays on the themes of irony and sweetness in unison with the film.
A film that poetically treats big themes like the fragility of life and beauty while following Titta’s memories across four seasons of one year. A film about Italy and its useless education based on rote memory and repetition, depicted with harsh humor, and about the ferocity and limits of fascism in Italian film’s most accurate and definitive portrait of its miserable and squalid externalization. An intimate film about the family and the desperate pursuit of normalcy. About the pain of adolescence, its rites and small delights. A film that is such a personal representation of adolescence as to be universal.
Fellini was a genius at getting actors to do their best, from Magali Noël (who replaced Sandra Milo at the last minute) to Ciccio Ingrassia, from Pupella Maggio to Nando Orfei to his youngest discoveries (Bruno Zanin and Alvaro Vitali), all of them dubbed without exception. For the role of the Prince (Umberto), whom Gradisca yields to, Fellini chose Marcello Di Folco (later Marcella), who would later become the president of the first Italian transsexual association.
With the collaboration of Cristaldi Film, Cineteca di Bologna retrieved over 180 boxes of outtakes and cuts, a treasure trove of information about how the movie was filmed, edited by Giuseppe Tornatore into a wonderful short film. The film’s restoration aimed at recovering Fellini’s dense, warm colors and was overseen by the film’s director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno and Gianfranco Angelucci, one of Fellini’s collaborators and an expert of his work.
Gian Luca Farinelli