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Amarcord

Director: Federico Fellini

Italy-France| 1973. English subtitles. Colour. 124 mins.) New 35mm print.


A lovely nostalgic melody washes over vignettes from a year in the life of a small provincial seaside town in the 1930s: loopy teachers, weird foreigners, eccentric uncles, curvaceous women, a skinny nympho and a crazed solitary motorcyclist, Hollywood movies, dance-band tunes, bon?res, big parades, hilarious family rows, a wedding, a funeral. Warm colours, vivid but not extravagant performances, moments of evanescent beauty, dashes of vulgarity—don’t you have to like Amarcord, isn’t it just such a nice ?lm? Yet its view of the period is disquieting. The Fascist regime appears ?rst as ridiculous then as vicious, yet mostly people are shown to get along with it very well, sometimes thrilling to it, only very occasionally rebelling. And then there’s the title: ‘I remember’, in dialect. But who remembers? Start to pick at that and the ?lm is revealed to be as complex, as modernist or postmodern, as Last Year in Marienbad, Memento or, of course, 8½. Amarcord also plays fast and loose with the norms of cinema: tunes on the soundtrack suddenly start being played by the characters themselves; people in this ’30s setting address us directly via the camera; the great set-piece of the townspeople going out to see a vast illuminated ocean liner obviously takes place in the studio on a sea of undulating blue plastic sheets. Yet all this probing at history and memory, this playing with convention, never stops it being an utter treat.

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