Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life."

The Second of my European film directors is a sketch of the great Federico Fellini.  Winner of 5 Academy Awards and nominated for 12, Fellini had a career that spanned 40 years of filmmaking.

Fellini began professional life as a humor-writer and cartoonist for humor magazine Marc'Aurelio, which led to his writing gags for Italian comedies. It is difficult to believe that the fantastical Fellini, much like spaghetti-western auteur Sergio Leone, would re-enter filmmaking in the Italian neo-realism movement that followed the second World War.  After strking out on his own to create such films as La Strada (1954) and La Dolce Vita (1960), Fellini found himself with his own creative block as he sought to relate a film about a director with creative block, which led to what many consider his masterpiece, 8 1/2 (1963).

My introduction to Fellini was via his later Roman fever dream, Satyricon (1969), and though I've deeply enjoyed many of his films since, I still have a special spot for this film.  I've probably seen it a dozen times since, and even read the collected fragments from Petronius' great satire...and I still couldn't entirely tell you what was going on in the film.  Thing is, I don't want to have to understand it.  What to me sets Fellini apart from many other filmmakers is an infectious passion and joi de vivre that can excite any viewer, whether they have the faintest clue what Fellini is getting at or not.

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