Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973)

by Smart

Fellini was a firm believer that all art is inherently autobiographical, and as far as Amarcord goes, it is best to take this literally. Quite possibly his most personal film, which is saying a lot, it revisits and recreates his home town of Rimini in the 1930s, but not without adding a purely fantastical zest to the characters and situations. Fellini’s intimacy shines through brighter than any individual performance or scene, and he is able to analyse both the social and the political together, without pretence or cynicism. At its simplest, Amarcord is a coming-of-age story about a young boy named Titta. At its most complex, it is a uniquely structured tale of a town and its people, told serenely and effortlessly by a director who didn’t have to think to create, but only to feel.

By being at times so shamelessly vulgar and humorous, the film awards itself an ease of watchability which is then rewarded during inspired moments of realisation and beauty. There is so much contrast and variety present that it sends our emotions flying haphazardly from one sequence to the next, and always in a fresh and exuberant manner. Because Amarcord does not follow a consistent protagonist, not even Titta, the town instead becomes the natural subject of our gaze and contemplation, which is an almost jarring sensation, and one which doesn’t tie together fully without later reflection and overview. There are multiple narrators who each work in vastly different ways, working to enlighten us and bring us closer to the world Fellini envisioned. They speak to us, inform us, and let us in on the spectacle, the carnival of life. Amarcord is an enhanced memory of a time and period in Fellini’s life which he remembers with honesty and fanciful splendour. We are just lucky that he is able to communicate his wild imagination so efficiently, and with such tangible rhythm and poignancy.