80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2005
"Amarcord" ('I remember') is Federico Fellini's impression of a year in the 1930's: a surreal carnival of memories, it is a film with no plot, but with haunting images - caricatures of the petit bourgeoisie, satires of provincial institutions. Teachers are portrayed as inflexible, autocratic. The Church is obsessed with stamping out masturbation. Families are dysfunctional - a crazed uncle climbs a tree to shout that he needs a woman ... only to be coaxed down by a midget nun. The whole town takes to the sea to wait, late into the night, for a glimpse of a passing liner.
"Amarcord" is a series of loosely linked vignettes. A lawyer tries to act as ringmaster, giving us background information about the town of Rimini. It had been bombed flat in 1943-44. Fellini reconstructs fantastic memories of the place. Nostalgia, he implies, is fantasy - our reconstruction of memories as little dramas.
There is a monochrome quality to "Amarcord"; the actors wear dark clothing ... a few appear in red, such as the local hairdresser, Gradisca, focus of much teenage lust. The costumes evoke a sense of how and why that person is remembered.
If there is a central character, it is the town square, the focus of communal life. Here, the townsfolk come and go, participating in spectacles like burning an effigy of a witch or watching a Fascist politician deliver his speech.
The direction emphasises Fellini's affection for people. Fellini's politics is humanist rather than doctrinaire ... he invites an exploration of consciousness, famously asking his audience to see his films, not to try to understand them. Many of his films are autobiographical - you take to them and from them something of your own memories ... some shared feeling, some new insight.
Fellini turned his back on realism. He espoused the surreal. There is not necessarily any subject to the film. You, as viewer, are not there to be entertained, but to interpret, to deconstruct the work and evoke and reconstruct your own emotions.
Fellini plays with light and darkness; fog, smoke, snow, or a storm of seedlings caught on the wind obfuscate both the images and the memories. This is poetic film making. Fellini constructs his characters in two dimensions, then builds them into full-bodied people for whom you can feel affection and sympathy. It is the institutions - education, religion, family life, or Fascist organisations which are portrayed as farcical, grotesque and dysfunctional. People are merely fallible - the first narrator is an old down-and-out who appears to forget his lines and stumble over his words.
The actors look like real people - they are hardly glamorous. They are often grotesque, their physique, make-up, hair, and clothing taken to extremes ... the sort of extremes you find imprinted on your memory. Fellini dubbed the sound afterwards - often making the actors sound unreal.
If there are underlying themes to "Amarcord" it is Fellini's portrayal of the emptiness of Italian society, of a nation living on memories of the glories of Rome, so vacuous it failed to note the rise to power of morally and intellectually bankrupt Fascism. Fellini counterpoints this with an exploration of teenage sexuality. His teenagers are fascinated by bodily functions - gross, bawdy, inexperienced, and ultimately impotent.
Fascism is as impotent as teenage sexual fantasy ... and intellectually, it is every bit as insubstantial. When the townsfolk go out to watch the passing liner, a triumph of the Fascist state, they are eventually given the spectacle of a huge, two-dimensional image, lit up like a giant Christmas tree. It is obviously fake ... as illusory as the national identity created by the Fascists.
Not Fellini's finest work, but a fascinating series of images which will have a very individual impact. It is a film which benefits from being watched more than once. It may not get under your skin the first time ... but.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 30 July 2009
Already having a video recording (complete with adverts) I was pleased to see 'Amarcord' was finally out on DVD however, unfortunately in the transfer to DVD the film has suffered from a number of cuts. Why ?
It was a wonderful film.
I can only presume that whoever has done this is frightened to death to have a portrait of 'Fascist Italy' shown sometimes rather sympathetically and with humour, although I don't think the film seeks to make an opinion one way or the other. It is too busy telling the story of Fellini's childhood and this is, inevitably, set against the backdrop of 'Fascist Italy'.
The cuts do seem to focus on these areas.
How sad. Anyone who has seen the original complete version will be disappointed by this (abridged) version.
A word to the editor (censor) 'Don't live your life in fear !'
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This 1973 film co-written and directed by Federico Fellini is a truly wonderful trip down memory lane, as the director recalls his own upbringing, setting his film near the Adriatic coastal city (and seaside resort) of Rimini during the 1930s. For Amarcord, Fellini largely eschews the fantasy elements and more technical innovations of his films of the preceding decade, and instead makes (for me) a welcome return to the more warm-hearted (and communal) realism of earlier films such as La Strada and I Vitelloni. Here, Fellini traces an entire lifecycle in the history of his close-knit community, focusing on the Biondi family (in which the teenage boy, Titta, is assumed to have autobiographical connotations for the director), and imbuing his film with hilarious (and touching) moments of humour, as well as exploring favoured themes of religion, cinema, and (here, predominantly adolescent) sex, in addition to the more serious political undercurrent of the growth of Mussolini's fascist party (albeit, treated by Fellini with scathing satire).
Taking the form of a series of individual vignettes, rather than being based around a single narrative thread, Amarcord is never less than an impressive visual spectacle (courtesy of Giuseppe Rotunno's cinematography), and never more so than during the opening sequence, a vibrant festival scene, marking the end of winter and start of spring, taking in the ceremonial burning of a witch dummy and introducing us to the communal life of the town, with its local whore, blind man, Ronald Coleman-lookalike cinema owner, and glamorous ladies taking the evening passeggiata. Fellini is, as ever, at his most observant and witty when portraying the intimacy of the life of these ordinary folk, whether it be the Biondi family, three generations of whom (including the outstanding Armando Brancia and Pupella Maggio as bickering, but devoted, father and mother, respectively, Aurelio and Miranda) take their meals together, the hilarious school-time sequences or the send-ups of the priesthood, including a brilliant confession scene during which the 'chosen one' is torn between his apparent interests in self-abuse and flower arranging!
In addition to Brancia and Maggio, great acting support is provided by Giuseppe Ianigro as the still lively grandfather and from Magali Noel as the 'hopeless romantic', the glamorous hairdresser, Gradisca, a perennial object of attention for the town's youth, and a character which calls to mind Dianne Wiest's Bea in Woody Allen's Radio Days (the film that Amarcord reminds me of most, and one which no doubt was a least partly inspired by Fellini's film). Fellini's fondly remembered tale includes a whole host of outstanding sequences which, for me, include: the send-up of Il Duce via the speaking cartoon face; the episode where Aurelio's mentally incapacitated brother climbs a tree and demands, 'I want a woman'; the group boat excursion to see the passing massive ocean liner, The Rex; the Mille Miglia race coming to town; Titta's erotic encounter with the buxom tobacconist; and the concluding snow-bound scenes (truly magical). To cap it all, Fellini then concludes with two beautifully poignant sequences, illustrating that life has come full circle.
For me, a magical cinematic experience to rank with anything that this film-maker ever did.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2012
Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973, 124')
Amarcord is a 1973 Italian comedy-drama, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale about Titta, an adolescent boy growing up among an eccentric cast of characters in the fictional town of Borgo (based on Fellini's hometown of Rimini) in 1930s Fascist Italy. The film's title is Romagnol for "I remember". Titta's sentimental education is emblematic of Italy's "lapse of conscience". It skewers Mussolini's ludicrous posturings and those of a Catholic Church, which "imprisoned Italians in a perpetual adolescence", by mocking himself and his fellow villagers in comic scenes that underline their incapacity to adopt genuine moral responsibility, or outgrow foolish sexual fantasies.
Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was a film director and scriptwriter. Known for a distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images, he is considered one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Amarcord won the 1975 Oscar for Best Foreign Film - his fifth after La Strada (1954), Le notti di Cabiria (1957), 8½ (Otto e Mezzo, 1963), I clowns (1970). The film was destined to be Fellini's last major commercial success. I have already written for amazon uk my reviews number 20 on La dolce vita (1960), 105 on Boccaccio '70 (episode Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio, 1962), 106 on Histoires extraordinaires (episode Toby Dammit, 1968), and for amazon us 50us on E la nave va (1983). Other major films are I vitelloni (1953), Roma (1972), Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (1976), and Ginger e Fred (1986).
Released in Italy in December 1973, Amarcord was an "unmitigated success". Critic Giovanni Grazzini, reviewing for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, described Fellini as "an artist at his peak" and the film as the work of a mature, more refined director whose "autobiographical content shows greater insight into historical fact and the reality of a generation. Almost all of Amarcord is a macabre dance against a cheerful background".
Russell Davies, British film critic and later a BBC radio host, compared the film to the work of Thornton Wilder and Dylan Thomas: "The pattern is cyclic... A year in the life of a coastal village, with due emphasis on the seasons, and the births, marriages and deaths. It is an Our Town or Under Milk Wood of the Adriatic seaboard, concocted and displayed in the Roman film studios with the latter-day Fellini's distaste for real stone and wind and sky. The people, however, are real, and the many non-actors among them come in all the shapes and sizes one cares to imagine."
In his review, American senior critic Roger Ebert, noted: "It's also absolutely breathtaking filmmaking. Fellini has ranked for a long time among the five or six greatest directors in the world, and of them all, he's the natural. Ingmar Bergman achieves his greatness through thought and soul-searching, Alfred Hitchcock built his films with meticulous craftsmanship, and Luis Buñuel used his fetishes and fantasies to construct barbed joke
about humanity. But Fellini... well, moviemaking for him seems almost effortless, like breathing, and he can orchestrate the most complicated scenes with purity and ease."
I have here made an effort to keep this review to reasonable length. There is hardly anything to add. The plot alone would have taken a few pages - I suggest you see the film or get the dvd. If you are still curious, read it up in Wikipedia; I further suggest that, instead, I here list the cast, most of whom were not trained actors, in recognition of their performance. Grazie a tutti!
Cast: Bruno Zanin as Titta, Magali Noël as Gradisca, hairdresser, Pupella Maggio as Miranda Biondi, Titta's mother, Armando Brancia as Aurelio Biondi, Titta's father, Giuseppe Ianigro as Titta's grandfather, Nando Orfei as Lallo or "Il Pataca", Titta's uncle, Ciccio Ingrassia as Teo, Titta's uncle, Stefano Proietti as Oliva, Titta's brother, Donatella Gambini as Aldina Cordini, Gianfranco Marrocco as Son of count, Ferdinando De Felice as Cicco, Bruno Lenzi as Gigliozzi, Bruno Scagnetti as Ovo, Alvaro Vitali as Naso, Francesco Vona as Candela, Maria Antonietta Beluzzi as the tobacconist. Story and Co-script: Tonino Guerra, Music: Nino Rota, Cinematographer: Giuseppe Rotunno, Film editing: Ruggero Mastroianni.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2009
A series of visually astonishing vignettes evoking Fellini's childhood Rimini. The Biondi family form the focal point through which we meet a series of colourful characters and situations, none greater than than the gorgeously teasing 'Gradisca'. Funny, lustful and yearning without a hint of mawkish sentimentality. Quite simply wonderful, one of Fellini's most accessible and certainly one of my favourite films of any time or genre.
One point to take care with (without stating the obvious) is that the dubbing is mind-numbingly atrocious so make sure you select the subtitle option at the outset.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 July 2012
Amarcord is a wonderful tale of adolescence and growing up - punched with humor, classic satire, and some world-class scores by Nina Rota. At the surface, nothing seems to move in this provincial Italian town - except the small pranks and individual idiosyncracies. Yet, everything is changing at a very subtle level - the time, the people, the seasons. Superb use of imagery and symbolism to imply deeper political landscape through a lighthearted irony. The cinematography is one of the best you can come across.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2014
I thought it was wonderful when I first saw it in the seventies and on subsequent occasions, but now after 40 years it has lost its magic particularly as I have seen so many wonderful Italian films along the way some of which covered the same Mussolini period.As a " professional film critic" ( which i am not ) I can respect and admire it but am not moved.
on 12 July 2014
Again as totally convinced Fellini fan, how could I not like it ? It`s a somewhat fantasised version of growing up in Rimini in the between war years, historically placed as the rise of fascism and all that. Obvious touches of the motorbike that roars through town,Nice, though again obvious in the entire town rowing out to greet the "Italia" as it sails on its majestic imperial way, and leaves them all in the backwash.
Beautiful rendition of the effectively town prostitute Gradisca, coverage of the suicidally married parents, Italian style, cows appearing magically from winter mists and much much else. An absolute treasure trove of a film.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
For me Amarcord is quintessential Fellini: abstract, hilarious, flamboyant and touching. For instance, the schoolroom scenes, a Fascist rally, bicycle saddles, the Church, adolescent fantasies, feathers in the wind and peacock in the snow. I find this movie hovers on the brink of Fellini's memories of his Rimini childhood and his self-conscious desire to convey a sense of the cinematic melodramatic. Nino Rota's score accompanies the ensuing slap stick with consummate ease acting like another character. Mussolini's authority is made to look ridiculous and the Church's support of his regime is explicit. All in all Fellini has a retrospective laugh at the expense of the authority of the time, be it political leaders or priests whilst sustaining warmth for provincial Italy, its idiosyncrasies and vaudeville.
on 2 March 2015
Family, Friends, Fascism, Festivals. sex and plenty of rock and roll - a rich patchwork quilt of Fellini's personal adolescent has gone into the making of this film. The film has its fair share of grotesques who make Fellini's not at all normal. There are moments of magic, hilarity and tragedy all woven together to tell a story of Amacord in early thirties Italy. We are treated to a fascinating Italianate atmosphere