Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amarcord (DVD) 1973 / a film by Frederico Fellini; starring Bruno Zanin, Armando Brancia & Magali Noel

In the Italian coastal village of Borgo, schoolboys play in the streets of the square, snatching at puffballs which float in the air. In the barbershop Gradisca, the town beauty, prances around in her fancy clothes doing her best to visually engage the leering male audience. As evening nears in the village square, a blind accordion player peddles for petty change while Volpina the prostitute, another of the town's pathetic down-and-outers, vamps about in the shadows. 12-year-old Titta Biondi observes it all from beginning to end--all of the bawdy shenanigans, the simple mundane patterns and sad but curious spectacles which are always on parade in his little corner of the world. It is the 1930's and the age of Fascism in Italy where the government has pledged to revive the country's prestige through strict authoritarianism and collectivist slogans. But despite the seeming enthusiasm with which directives of the regime are undertaken, the movement accomplishes little aside from providing a few small-minded men with the chance to wear stuffy-looking uniforms. The few Borgo residents who are wealthy or powerful enough to care about politics try to follow suit. They've been instructed to root out any signs of anarchy and so they do their best to follow-up on any petty squabbles or tomfoolery, even if it's merely a phonograph recording of an anarchist melody. For Titta and his family, nothing really changes. Titta still gets in trouble, his father is still easily angered, always griping at his wife. As a year passes and the seasons change, their simple lives remain much the same as the generations before them. But it's a sameness in which the magic of everyday is sharply revealed.
Amarcord, loosely translated as "I remember", is just that--a life's journey brought to the screen. With Fellini, one can always expect a world of quasi-fantasy mixed with archetypal images from the mind's eye. Yet Amarcord might be the director's most indelible portrait of just what that vision embodies: a starkly personal and illuminating ode to his youth and memory. Nothing compares with the beauty of Fellini's imagery; he is a master of aesthetic exposition. A peacock in the middle of the snow, the tragic splendor of a deserted seaside hotel, even the colorful procession of the new prostitutes arriving at the local brothel all absorb the viewer's senses, each a mesmerizing portrait of artistic clarity. With Amarcord, a true pinnacle of Italian art film, Fellini encapsulates his deepest convictions, exploring the subtle if contradictory truths behind memory, experience and conscious awareness. And though the content can seem perplexing and distant, the narrative at times enigmatic and confusing, the central concept remains grounded as one in which a profound insight can be expressed through the simplest of actions. Life is renewed daily, even instantaneously in Fellini's world. But just as life continues, its composition changed, even altered forever at times, memories are always being preserved in the most incandescent of ways--at times tragically, at others beautifully but always magically. (DVD AMARCORD)

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