If there’s one foreign director whose work does nothing for me, well it would probably be Ingmar Bergman’s movies, but a close second would be Federico Fellini. Granted, I’ve only seen his films “8 1/2” and “La Dolce Vita,” but both nearly put me to sleep where it feels like they wander around aimlessly with no purpose other than to be artsy. There is little to no substance in his movies that it’s hard to find a reason to recommend his movies.
But I will say there were scenes in Fellini’s “Amarcord,” that I genuinely enjoyed for their laid back, small town approach to it all. The film follows teenager Titta (Bruno Zanin) and his every day life and troubles while growing up in a small village on Italy, surrounded by eccentric and colorful people, in the 1930s just as the Nazis were coming into power.
On the whole, “Amarcord” doesn’t do much different from Fellini’s other films, since it doesn’t have a major over-arching story, just a bunch of small vignettes revolving around the many people in this town and Titta’s family. But there’s this small village charm that I found adorable about “Amarcord.” It starts in the opening scene when everyone comes together to celebrate the end of winter in a joyous bonfire in the center of town. They all have their own unique way of celebrating, especially the teenagers who want to play with the fire and the local motorcycle rider who drives right through it, but it’s clear that everyone is having a blast.
This passion and joy for life sticks out above other Fellini films and makes the aimless plot worth observing. Scenes of Titta trying to put the moves on the local town hottie Gradisca (Magali Noel) or watching Titta’s father (Armando Brancia) try desperately to control the crazy people around him and failing, put a smile on my face because they feel so nostalgic and vibrant.
“Amarcord” is like listening to a painter as he creates a portrait of his childhood and hearing about all the highs and lows of his life.
If you ever watch one Federico Fellini movie, give “Amarcord” a shot. It never tries to be about anything other than the life of a teenager with a lot to learn, which is so refreshing to see from Fellini. It is filled with colorful characters and equally vibrant comedy that makes it all feel laid back and nonchalant about it all. The film still moves at a slow pace, but gives each scene enough time to leave an impression on the audience.
Final Grade: B-