The Fantastic Films of Fellini – Part One

Fellini was always something of a maverick – he never formally trained nor did he ever frequent the cinema clubs that screened the work of the dominant Italian directors. He was greatly more influenced by Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Chaplin and the Marx Brothers.

He drew inspiration from many different elements, film being well down the pecking order with cartoons, radio comedy and caricature sketches being more dominant in his thinking. However, his greatest influence was himself or at least the memories that he possessed of his life was, his films were intensely autobiographical.

Though it is known that he invented passages in his life, putting these two into film. In addition, Fellini maintained that it was his wife, Giulietta Masina, who was the biggest influence on his work. In 1945, he received his first break in film, when he collaborated on the script of Roberto Rossellini’s neo-realist masterpiece Open City. He made his directorial debut in 1950 with Variety Lights, this was followed by The White Sheik (1951) and I Vitelloni (1953). These films were squarely based in the neo-realist tradition, they were distinguished by their absurdist nature and their empathy towards their eccentric characters.

He gained international recognition with La Strada (1954), the story of an innocent young woman (Masina) who is sold by her family to a circus strongman. Fellini diluted his neo-realist roots by peppering the piece with surrealist scenes. La Strada also marked the beginning of a life-long collaboration with Nino Rota who wrote the film’s powerful score. Fellini’s masterpieces arrived in the early sixties – La Dolce Vita (1960) and 81/2 (1963).

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net

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