Federico Fellini


This month’s essay continues a theme that several prior essays discussed concerning famous Italian film directors of the post-World War II era. We earlier discussed Neorealism as the film genre of these directors. The director we are considering in this essay both worked in that genre and carried it beyond its limits to develop an approach that moved Neorealism to a new level. Over the decades of the latter-half of the 20th century, his films became increasingly original and subjective, and consequently more controversial and less commercial. His style evolved from Neorealism to fanciful Neorealism to surrealism, in which he discarded narrative story lines for free-flowing, free-wheeling memoirs. Throughout his career, he focused on his personal vision of society and his preoccupation with the relationships between men and women and between sex and love. An avowed anticleric, he was also deeply concerned with personal guilt and alienation. His films are spiced with artifice (masks, masquerades and circuses), startling faces, the rococo and the outlandish, the prisms through which he sometimes viewed life. But as Vincent Canby, the chief film critic of The New York Times, observed in 1985: “What’s important are not the prisms, though they are arresting, but the world he shows us: a place whose spectacularly grand, studio-built artificiality makes us see the interior truth of what is taken to be the ‘real’ world outside, which is a circus.”

CELEBRATED: Italian film director
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ASSOCIATIONS: Satyricon, 8-1/2, Amarcord
Lived 20th

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