AMARCORD (Italy 1973/74)

0f30f03b9e25e702ff4d2b387f07ef8aTranslated as ‘I Remember’, the great Italian director Federico Fellini’s Amarcord is a series of slowly paced comedic vignettes that look back at his childhood in a 1930’s coastal town. Apart from the intertwining inhabitants, there is nothing thematically or even tonally linking the stories together. Much like memory itself, this requires patient sifting by the viewer.

The film takes places over the course of a year, with nothing signifying the passage of time apart from the subtle changes in seasons. Apart from the film’s brief focus on the rise of fascism, this is Fellini at his most satirically light, with his usual mocking of the bourgeoisie making way for some amusingly childish humour and some beautifully photographed scenes. True to Fellini’s style, Amarcord is occasionally outrageous and always flamboyant.

We see the majority of the film through the eyes of the closest thing there is to a protagonist: young, rosy-cheeked Titta (Bruno Zanin), and therefore everything feels exaggerated. The sexual aspects are often juvenile, but true to the experiences of a young, hormonal man. When Titta shows off his strength by lifting the large, buxom tobacconist (Maria Antonietta Beluzzi) he so often fantasises about, he is rewarded by having a grope of her ridiculously large breasts in a scene that could have been called Carry on Fellini.

amarcordThere is also the local nymphomaniac Volpina (Josiane Tanzilli), who seems to hover around, touching herself and growling hungrily at any man who glances in her direction. These are true Fellini grotesques. The comedy aside (special mention must go to the hilarious segment in which Titta’s crazy Uncle Teo comes to stay and escapes up a tree), there are many touching and profound moments that display Fellini’s talent. The scene in which Titta must watch his mother’s final moments on a hospital bed is brutal in its simplicity.

His naivety fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation, while his father Aurelio (Armando Brancia) lingers in tragic silence. There’s also moments of beauty, namely the arrival of a peacock in the winter snow displaying its covert feathers, or the sight of a giant ocean liner, seemingly meaningless moments that stuck with Fellini for decades. For me, this is not Fellini’s finest moment – that would lie with “8 1/2” (1963), arguably one of the finest films ever made – but this is still one of the most accurate depictions of memory and beautiful ode’s to nostalgia I’ve seen. This one’s for Euro-cinema (and big tit) lovers everywhere.



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