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AMARCORD, 1973
Movie Review


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AMARCORD
AMARCORD, 1973
Movie Reviews

Directed by Federico Fellini
Starring: Pupella Maggio, Armando Brancia
Review by Aria Chiodo



SYNOPSIS:

A year in the life of a small Italian coastal town in the nineteen-thirties, as is recalled by a director with a superstar's access to the resources of the Italian film industry and a piper's command over our imaginations.

OSCAR Winner for Best Foreign Film

OSCAR Nominee for Best Director and Best Screenplay

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REVIEW:

Amarcord is Fellini's return to his neorealistic roots and also his personal and autobiographical style (the title is regional dialect for “I remember”) as he gives us tales of what could be his own boyhood. The film takes place in the small town of Rimini during the late 30s, at the beginning of the Fascist regime, and focuses mostly on one family and often through the eyes of the adolescent son, Titta, as he observes the many happenings of the quaint but colorful Italian community. In accordance with Fellini style, there is no real narrative, just a series of vignettes exploring the experiences of the town and its lively inhabitants. It's probably Fellini's most loving portrait of a place and its people, as well as his most entertaining.

The film begins with a celebration for the end of winter, complete with a bonfire burning a stuffed witch to bring about spring, and we are shown many of the town's residents. There is a narrator of sorts, whom they call Lawyer, who addresses the audience by looking directly into the camera, adding some realism, to tell us about the town and its history. But for the cast of characters, we figure them out on our own. Rimini has an array of citizens who all play their part and who we come to know and love. We soon go into Titta's home and meet his family-- his classic Italian mother who doesn't take lip from anyone but who obviously loves her family, his father who is always yelling and can't take his son's adolescent games, his probably gay uncle whom his mother coddles, his comical and cheerful grandpa and his younger brother. Combine his family with his school full of a hilarious spread of boring, strict and oblivious teachers and priests, and its no wonder he and his friends have to escape from their world into fantasies. As to the women they dream of, there are three major female characters: the lovely Gradisca, a single hairdresser and fantasy of all the men in town; Volpina, the crazy prostitute who lives on the beach much like Saraghina; and the tobacconist, whose large breasts provide a major sexual fantasy for the young boys. One of Titta's friends, Ciccio, also has a crush on a snooty girl at school named Aldina, whom he writes love letters to.

The characters are what holds this film together and what makes it so entertaining and realistic, even with the crazy situations it displays. The events of the town are important as well, however, especially the town's welcoming and celebration of the Fascists moving in. Even while poking fun of this event (particularly with an enormous head of Mussolini that talks to Ciccio in a daydream) Fellini takes a step towards the serious, showing how many Italians welcomed the new regime, unaware of the consequences. Titta's family does not take part with the celebrating crowd, however, and his father is brought in for some unnecessary and brutal questioning. This scene becomes afterwards somewhat comical for many of the characters but for the audience it is a grave reminder of the effect of Fascism on small towns all over Italy.

As for Fellini's fantastic side, there are several dreamlike scenes and illusions. A fancy hotel near the town offers a location for swank living and adult fantasies. The Lawyer tells us some tales of the hotel and its exotic guests, including an Emir with thirty concubines and a prince that Gradisca spent a night with, but always points out what he believes to be true and what is not. As for real but somewhat dreamlike sequences, there is a scene when a heavy fog rolls into the town, and the grandfather gets lost in front of his own house while Titta and his friends waltz through it with their imaginary partners. There is also a big snow in the town; it snows for days until there is maze of snow through the streets. During a snowball fight, Titta and other townspeople witness an amazing peacock fly out of the sky to land in the snow with its tail open for all to see. Another wonderful scene of the film worth mentioning is when the family goes to a farmhouse for a day with Titta's other uncle, the clinically insane Teo. The mad uncle climbs a tree and stays up at the top for hours refusing to come down and shouting that he wants a woman. The scene is one of the most entertaining and comical as well as endearing.

The film ends a year later, again with the coming of spring, after exciting events and small tragedies have taken place. This time the town is celebrating a wedding, and some of Fellini's circus mentality comes through with everyone dancing to the blind accordian player's music as the camera pulls back and leaves them to their festivities. Amarcord is again, like earlier Fellini films, a celebration of life, a nostalgic and loving look back to another time and place which was far from simple, but memorable and significant.


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Amarcord


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