Monday, October 5, 2015
Nostalgia, Fellini-style, with lots of bawdiness, plenty of grotesques, much comedy and a little pathos. It was a huge hit, earning the foreign-language film Oscar and nominations for Fellini as director and as co-author (with Tonino Guerra) of the screenplay. It's certainly lively and colorful, thanks to the cinematography of Giuseppe Rotunno, the production and costume design of Danilo Donati, and of course the scoring by Nino Rota -- though it sounds like every other score he did for Fellini. What it lacks for me, though, is the grounding that a central figure like Marcello Mastroianni or Giulietta Masina typically gave Fellini's best films, among which I would name La Strada (1954), The Nights of Cabiria (1957), La Dolce Vita (1960), and 8 1/2 (1963). The presumed center of Amarcord is the adolescent Titta (Bruno Zanin), whose experiences over the course of a year in a village on Italy's east coast serve to link the various episodes together. But Titta is too slight a character to serve that function -- the way, for example, Moraldo (Franco Interlenghi) did as the Fellini surrogate in I Vitelloni (1953). There are some marvelous moments such as the sailing of the ocean liner SS Rex past the village, which goes out to greet it in a variety of fishing and pleasure boats. But too much of the film is taken up with the noisy squabbling of Titta's family, who soon wear out their welcome -- or at least mine.