Outtakes: Federico Fellini

July 13, 2013 08:11 pm | Updated November 13, 2021 10:25 am IST - chennai

Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini

WHO is he?

Iconic Italian film director and screenwriter who wrote over 50 films and directed more than 20 documentaries and features between the forties and the nineties. His La Dolce Vita — a watershed film in the world cinema canon — won the top prize at Cannes Film Festival in 1960. He additionally has the unparalleled record of directing four films — La Strada (1954), The Nights Of Cabiria (1957), 8 ½ (1963) and Amarcord (1973) that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

WHAT are his films about?


One of the most prominent thematic elements that recurs throughout Fellini’s filmography is the idea of life as a circus — an association that stems both from his lifelong fascination with the circus and his view of life as a procession of the absurd. They are also often structured around memories, fantasies and dreams of the protagonist, seamlessly blending the conscious and the unconscious. Much of his late-period work harks back to his childhood experiences, his impressions of the places he has lived in and the people he has met.


The most renowned films by Fellini possess a dream-like quality, with baroque imagery, unnatural lighting, heightened colour palettes and film scores, elaborate camera movements marked by many tracking shots and extreme close-ups, deep-space compositions drawn from his Neorealist roots, caricatured appearances of actors and a general abundance of movement within the shots. Most famous long-time collaborators include actors Marcello Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina and composer Nino Rota.

WHY is he of interest?

Along with Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni, Fellini is arguably the most canonical of European film directors. Fellini’s aesthetic breadth spanned the gamut, ranging from the quotidian verity of Italian Neorealism to the fantastical excursions of Surrealism. Hundreds of filmmakers around the world, including Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, have been influenced by his style and cinematic personality.

WHERE to discover him?

8 ½ , which represents the number of films Fellini had directed thus far, chronicles the travails of a film director undergoing a crisis of creativity. The film is a monument of self-reflexive, confessional cinema, wherein the highs and lows, the extraordinary and the mundane, the glories and the follies of Fellini’s own life become fodder for his film. It is personal cinema on an altogether different level and a stroke of supreme creativity born out of artistic seizure.

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