Federico Fellini’s cinema is like checking out a Latin-American book– humane, dreamy and poetic- Entertainment News, Firstpost
Federico Fellini’s cinema resembles checking out a Latin-American novel– humane, dreamy and poetic
I’m amazed by other individuals’s lists, particularly if they are essential individuals– and what could be more vital than Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky drawing up a list of great directors? (See clip below, from Trip in Time, the 1983 documentary that tracked Tarkvosky while he was working to Nostalghia, his very first movie made outside the USSR). “If you had to talk to today’s and yesterday’s terrific directors,” the job interviewer asks, “for exactly what factors would you thank each of them for what you feel they gave you?”
Tarkovsky begins with Alexander Dovzhenko, recalling the 1930 quiet film, The Earth. He names Robert Bresson (“the only director worldwide that has actually attained outright simplicity in cinema,” though I don’t actually get the Tolstoy contrast that Tarkovsky makes), Michelangelo Antonioni (taking off from exactly what Tarkovsky states, I grinned at the irony of Antonioni screaming “Action” for his languidly paced films), Jean Vigo (“the daddy of modern-day French cinema”), Sergei Parajanov (“paradoxical and poetic”) and Federico Fellini (“for his compassion, for his love of people … for his mankind”).
The things he states about Fellini– generosity, humankind– are encapsulated in all the director’s films, but specifically so in this clip (listed below) from La Dolce Vita (1960 ), which follows a tabloid reporter (Marcello Mastroianni) in Rome. The scene is embeded in a bar, and it involves, as Fellini’s movies so typically do, a clown. There are thematic resonances to the director’s career– state, that this clown with his trumpet might be a spiritual cousin to the clown-like, trumpet-playing Gelsomina from La Strada (1954 ). For now, simply observe the humankind in the scene.In 5 Go
Off in a Caravan (odd choice of book for this column, I know!), Enid Blyton wrote, “If you take a look at photographs of clowns when they’re just being common guys, they’ve got quite sad faces.” In spite of the unhappiness of this clown’s face, the sentiment we feel isn’t really banal pathos. The spotlight shines on him, as he mixes in– and he’s so blank that it’s simple for us to predict on him. He looks like he’s worn out and would rather be house in bed if not for needing to earn money by making the customers laugh.He plays a sad tune, punctuating it with Chaplinesque kicks. He searches for and locks eyes with the reporter, sealing the “bond’ between them. Mastroianni averts, as though discomfited by this reminder. (Perhaps he is “empty” like the balloons. Possibly, like them, he is swept along, dancing to the tunes of the rich and the well-known.) The clown leaves, beckoning to his balloons– they’re all he’s entrusted. He’s worthless without them; they’re useless without him. Read this way, this scene catches the reporter’s life in a nutshell. He needs the people he blogs about simply as they need him to be written about.The words”
clown” or “circus” are usually used in the negative sense, but in Fellini eyes, there isn’t a shred of judgement. “We can all pretend to be negative and computing,” goes a line in the director’s Nights of Cabiria. “But when we’re faced with purity and innocence, the cynical mask drops off, and all that is best in us reawakens.” That’s exactly what occurs in this scene. A metaphor that may have turned malicious in the hands of a Robert Altman (consider his acid-dripping Hollywood satire, The Gamer) ends up being, in Fellini’s hands, wide-eyed and large-hearted. As Tarkovsky called it, human.
So human, in fact, that the humankind suffices– there’s no need for any of this analysis. It simply has to be felt. Martin Scorsese explained, quite beautifully, the appeal of Fellini (see clip above, the 0.30 mark). He spoke of 8 1/2, which has to do with a filmmaker named Guido (Mastroianni once again) in an imaginative rut: “the cutting back and forth between time and memory … and dreams. In the beginning, we attempted to study the movie … we aimed to determine what was going on. And after that you understand you do not have to. Because it’s very easy, actually …”
From the viewpoint of blurring the line between the real and unbelievable, watching a Fellini movie resembles reading a Latin-American novelist like Jorge Luis Borges or Gabriel García Márquez. Fellini said, “Borges is particularly stimulating to a guy who works in the movie theater … his writing is that it is like a dream, extraordinarily farsighted in contacting from the unconscious complete images where the thing itself, and its significance, exist side-by-side– precisely as takes place in a film.” His films make good sense in a primal method– like poetry. Consider this clip (below) from 8 1/2.
This scene where Guido “satisfies” his dead parents is among the lots of fragments in the movie that offer us an insight into his mind– for instance, that he was mainly egotistical, distant. Exactly what strikes me is the gentleness of his dad’s complaint about how low the ceiling of the tomb is, how accepting and non-judgmental his face is. A little later, there’s another gentle rebuke that Guido does not go to. “Sure, it’s a bit lonesome here, however Mom comes here every day … She keeps me business.” But there’s no angst, just approval. That’s at least one definition of humanity.Baradwaj Rangan is Editor, Film Companion(South). Published Date: Feb 05, 2018 13:55 PM|Upgraded Date:
Feb 05, 2018 14:02 PM