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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Autobiography > Coming Of Age > WWII > Italy > Fascism > Amarcord (1973/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)

Amarcord (1973/Criterion Collection Blu-ray)


Picture: B†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B



Federico Fellini was one of the most important filmmakers in the world when he made Amarcord (1973), a very personal, sometimes surreal and even bittersweet look at his childhood as seen in his distinctive style.He was growing up when Italy had become a part of the Axis Powers, with Benito Mussolini inventing fascism.Add this to the usual issues with growing up and the film becomes a fascinating, one-of-a-kind look at growing up in that period with an insight we will never see again.


One of the most effectively writerly filmmakers of all time, cinema from the imagination of his childhood was an interesting contrast to his usually adult, surreal outings and it would be interesting to see his childlike fascination with the world translate into a tale about being a child and covers a yearís worth of that life.


All his films are personal, but this one has Fellini in rare style, prepared to tell his story in a way that he may have wanted to wait on.Tonino Guerra (who wrote many of Michelangelo Antonioniís neo-realist classics, including Red Desert on Criterion Blu-ray, reviewed elsewhere on this site) co-wrote the screenplay with Fellini and the this aspect of the production works especially well as Fellini has much to say and Guerra once again proves his exceptional skills in translating experiences and ideas to the scripted page.


With that said, this is a fine film, but not exactly typical of Fellini in that his it is a rare glimpse into his young past.His stylistic approach is just not look and show, but of a state of mind and heart hardly any filmmaker has been capable of.You can see it on its own, but seeing some of his other films might help as you get as better sense of contrast.It is fine on its own, but as with all Fellini films, it is not easy for many viewers (especially now with all the bad, formulaic garbage being made today) to find a place in his world.Part of it is that it is so palpable; another is that it is so unique.Many who might remember the famous beer ad that asks the immortal question you donít hear as much these days: Why are foreign films soÖ foreign?


That is a good thing, not a bad thing, now more than ever in a world of multi-media mush.Best of all is how often brutally honest in subtle ways Fellini is in all his work and he is not afraid to show vulnerability and pain, which is the sign of a true artist.To see it against a backdrop of fascism and that he did not relegate it to incidental status is additionally remarkable.


It can even seem like magic, but Fellini remains a giant in world cinema and to have Amarcord on Blu-ray in an edition this fine will keep both the Fellini and Criterion names on the top of the list for a long time to come.This was even a better release than I expected.



The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image is from a newly upgraded HD master Criterion made for the newer DVD edition a few years ago from a direct internegative print and it is very impressive considering the films age and the work needed to be done on the film.Director of Photography Giuseppe Rotunno (also known for his work with Luchino Visconti, plus occasional work with Mike Nichols and Terry Gilliam) delivers the distinctive visuals and look that makes a Fellini film a Fellini film like unusual lighting to match the fantastic locales and eccentric characters.Color can be good here, but it should be noted that the film was issued in three-strip, dye-transfer Technicolor 35mm prints when then-distributor Warner released it originally and the color is not that outstanding all the time.Such prints are very valuable if you can get them, but next to that, you will not find a much better representation of the film than this upgrade.


The PCM 2.0 Mono was created from a 35mm magnetic monophonic soundmaster that displays the typical looping common in Italian film production of the time, but they have cleaned and fixed up the sound as much as possible all the way down to Nino Rotaís score (made a year after he composed the score for the first Godfather) and will likely never sound better than it does here.It still shows its age at times, but is the best I have ever heard it.


Extras include a slipcase with a thicker than usual booklet dedicated to the film with tech details, plus very extensive text that includes Sam Rohdieís essay Federico Of The Spirits and Felliniís own My Rimini essay written about his childhood in 1967 when he was not well.The disc adds an American Release Trailer, Deleted Scene, Restoration Demonstration, terrific feature length audio commentary track by film scholars Peter Brunette & Frank Burke, Felliniís drawings of characters from the film, Felliniana section of memorabilia from the film owned by Don Young, archival radio interview with Fellini by radio film critic Gideon Bachman, video interview with star Magali Noel and Felliniís Homecoming, a 45-minutes-long documentary about the complexities of his relationship with his hometown.Once again, Criterion has gone all out for a classic and more people can enjoy it as a result.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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