The Mature Auteur La dolce vita and a New Subjective Film Narrative

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With the unprecedented international success of La dolce vita, Fellini departed in a number of fundamental ways from the aesthetic and thematic preoccupations that had earned him the coveted title of auteur from international critics. Whereas his cinema first emerged in his trilogy of character from a dialectical relationship with neorealist cinema, a style of filmmaking in which Fellini's career began as a scriptwriter, the evolution of Fellini's film language in La dolce vita and afterward - most particularly in 8I/2 and Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits, 1965) - would move beyond any overriding concern with the representation of social reality and concentrate upon the subjective, often irrational areas of human behavior connected with the psyche or the unconscious. As La dolce vita and 8^2 are the subjects of separate chapters in this study, it is sufficient here to note that the lush fresco of the titular "sweet life" in the first film, presenting a comic panorama of life defined as image and style, broke all Italian box-office records and most of those in Europe as well, winning a number of international awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. La dolce vita - especially in conjunction with the subsequent 8r/2, a film about a filmmaker's inability to make his film - resulted in the virtual canonization of Fellini as the archetypal genius, the auteur of auteurs, the undisputed king of what is today, in retrospect, referred to as the European "art" film. Finally, and most surprisingly, Fellini found the leftist Italian press in his camp (after years of attacks upon his works for their supposedly Catholic character), while some supporters who had admired the Christian elements in his earlier films now abandoned him. Thousands of tourists would flock to Rome for years to come in search of the Via Veneto locations Fellini had actually created in the huge Teatro 5 at Cinecitta, or to toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain into which Fellini's star, Anita Ekberg, had waded with Marcello Mastroianni. La dolce vita marks the first of many close collaborations between Fellini and Italy's greatest actor: Mastroianni, who died in 1996, only a few years after Fellini. Mastroianni eventually became identified in the public's mind as Fellini's alter ego. The picaresque, open narrative forms toward which Fellini's works in the trilogy of character and the trilogy of grace or salvation had been evolving now take center stage in Felli-ni's style. In La dolce vita, Fellini himself spoke of changing the representation of reality in his film in much the same way as the cubist artist Picasso has smashed the traditional painter's obsession with vanishing points and mimesis by deconstructing the reality of material objects into their potential surfaces.23

Between La dolce vita and 8I/2, Fellini made an extremely important film that has not enjoyed much critical attention: Le tentazioni del Dottor Antonio (The Temptations of Doctor Antonio, 1962), a contribution to an episodic film entitled Boccaccio '70 to which Luchino Visconti, Mario Monicelli, and Vittorio De Sica made contributions along with Fellini.24 This brief work, as well as another episode Fellini contributed to yet another film by several hands - Toby Dammit (1968) for Tre passi nel delirio (Spirits of the Dead), shot with Louis Malle and Roger Vadim - are absolutely crucial for an understanding of the evolution of Fellini's style.25 These episodic films reflect the growing influence of dreams and psychoanalysis upon Fellini, most particularly the theories of Jung. Fellini's interest in dream imagery would continue for the rest of his career. Moreover, Fellini (who had begun his interest in psychoanalysis during his personal crisis that coincided with the shooting of La strada) now began to analyze his own dreams by sketching them in large notebooks with vivid felt-tip markers.

The impact of Jungian psychoanalysis upon Fellini is everywhere apparent in 8V2 and Giulietta degli spiriti. In many respects, the two works are different sides of the same coin - an exploration of the Jung-ian anima and animus. In the case of 8V2, this exploration takes place within the subjective fantasy world of a film director whose similarity to Fellini himself suggests a close biographical connection. In Giulietta degli spiriti, Giulietta Masina plays a housewife who explores her married life and comes to find that she has been living too long in the shadow of her husband. Although criticized by some feminists, Giulietta degli spiriti represents Fellini's sustained attempt to understand the female psyche. It is certainly one of the first postwar European films to espouse the cause of women's liberation.

After the completion of Giulietta degli spiriti, Fellini intended to film a work tentatively entitled Il viaggio di G. Mastorna [The Voyage of G. Mastorna].26 Originally written during the summer of 1965 with Dino Buzzati (1906-72), the enigmatic Italian writer of mysterious short stories who was often called the Italian Franz Kafka, the film was plagued by numerous problems. The usual arguments with reluctant producers that characterized most of Fellini's previous creations now took second place to his serious physical collapse caused by the rare Sanarelli-Shwartzman syndrome. Fellini's active dream life also entered a crisis, and many of the dreams from this period underline a blockage of artistic inspiration and the impossibility of realizing Mastorna. It has been suggested that Fellini felt it impossible to make Mastorna because the subject matter of the film was ultimately about the nature of death, and his musician protagonist was too closely identified by the director with himself.

It was specifically as a means of combating a creative mental block connected to the abortive production of Mastorna, as well as the physical crisis brought on by his life-threatening illness, that Fellini took a step he always preferred to avoid: He agreed to make a film based upon a literary work not of his own creation. Literature, Fellini always claimed, could at best only provide the cinema with a general narrative plot, since for Fellini the cinema was primarily a visual, not a literary, medium, with light, and not words, as its means of communicating ideas or emotions. Thus, he shot Toby Dammit in the episodic film Tre passi nel delirio but changed the storyline so drastically that almost only one element of the literary source (the decapitation of the main character after placing a bet with the devil) remained from Edgar Allan Poe's original. In Fellini's version, the protagonist becomes a drug-dazed Shakespearean actor down on his luck who is hired by the Vatican to make a Catholic western (this was the heyday of the Italian spaghetti western made famous by Sergio Leone).

Fellini's next effort was far more significant: a brilliant but highly personal visual extravaganza of lush, baroque imagery that followed in general terms the narrative found in the classic prose work by Petro-nius, The Satyricon. Petronius chronicled the picaresque adventures of some rather unsavory characters in imperial Rome. The production of Fellini's idiosyncratic version, Satyricon (Fellini Satyricon, 1969), took place almost entirely inside a studio, the famous Teatro 5 at Cinecitta, which the director considered the one place in the world where he was totally comfortable. It was a major hit in a psychedelic era that viewed Fellini's protagonists as ancestors of the hippie movement. After making the film, Fellini's fears about losing his artistic inspiration were overcome, and he only infrequently turned to literary texts for the basis of his films during the rest of his career. Even when he did so, his use of literary texts provided only general suggestions, and the films were never really adaptations in the literary sense of the word.

The discovery of psychoanalysis, the impact of Jung's ideas, and Fel-lini's own explorations of his dreams and fantasies (as well as his persistent illustration of them in his dream notebooks) had a profound influence upon his career. Up to the appearance of La dolce vita, in fact, Fellini's intellectual trajectory seems to be clear: His films begin in the shadow of neorealist portraits of life in the sleepy provinces of Italy, focus upon various forms of show-business types, and ultimately lead toward the capital city of Rome and the "sweet life" of movie stars, gossip columnists, and paparazzi scandalmongers. After that point, Fel-lini's cinema turns inward toward an overriding concern with memory, dreams, a meditation on the nature of cinematic artistry, and the director's fantasies. In short, Fellini's mature career has no trajectory in the same sense that we have identified a single direction in his early works. After La dolce vita, only the artist's creative imagination provides the limits to his activity.

Between 1969 and 1972, Fellini made three films in which he appeared himself as the main protagonist and in which the dominant theme was metacinematic, devoted to the nature of the cinema itself: Block-notes di un regista (Fellini: A Director's Notebook, 1969); I clowns (The Clowns, 1970); and Roma (Fellini's Roma, 1972). The first was originally shot for the American NBC television network and shows Fellini at work on the set of Satyricon, a lush, surrealistic fresco of life in pre-Christian Rome adapted freely from the classic novel by Petronius. Satyricon, the earlier La dolce vita, and Roma constitute a

Satyricon Fellini Banquet Scene

In re-creating the sensual celebration of Trimalchio's banquet from The Satyri-con of Petronius, Fellini presented one of the very few scenes taken directly from the literary source in his film Satyricon. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive]

trilogy on the meaning of the Eternal City. In these three works devoted to the mythological dimensions of the most ancient of Italy's cities -the head of government, the site of Italy's most illustrious history, the dwelling place of the popes, and (last but not least), the location of Italy's cinematic dream factory, Cinecitta - Fellini not only explores the history of Rome in the Western imagination but also creates original and startling images of Rome himself that have endured in postwar popular culture.27

Following Roma, the director completed the last of his works to reach a wide commercial audience: Amarcord (1973). In this nostalgic evocation of his own adolescence in Rimini during the Fascist era, Fellini managed to produce a masterpiece of political cinema, providing a critique of Italy's past that gave the lie to those leftist critics who had always claimed Fellini had little original to say about ideological issues or was, at best, a spokesman for Italy's conservative Catholic culture. Amarcord returned Fellini to the favor of his producers and was not only a commercial success but also earned the director his fourth Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

In 1976, Fellini turned to a personal interpretation of the archetypal Latin lover - Giacomo Casanova - and produced a masterpiece that also proved to be a commercial failure, in spite of the Oscar set designer Danilo Donati won for his efforts. Nevertheless, in retrospect, Il Casanova di Fellini (Fellini's Casanova) compares favorably with Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, appearing almost at the same time. The film's marvelous re-creation of the world of eighteenth-century Venice inside the studios of Cinecitta yielded the most expensive film Fellini had shot to that point in his career. After its commercial failure, Fellini seemed to turn to Italy's present to cast a critical eye upon his fellow countrymen without completely abandoning the nostalgia for Italy's past that has always played such a prominent role in his works. Prova d'orches-tra (Orchestra Rehearsal, 1979), probably the only film Fellini ever made that was at least partly inspired by political events (the murder of Aldo Moro by Red Brigade terrorists), presents Italy as an orchestra out of sync with not only the music it is playing but its conductor as well. It was honored by a special preview presentation for President Sandro Pertini in the Quirinale Palace in Rome on 19 October 1978, a recognition of the filmmaker's importance to Italian culture that has never been achieved by any other Italian film director. Although it nev-

Lilly Roma

{left) A preparatory drawing by Fellini for a cardinal's hat in his ecclesiastical fashion parade in Roma. [Photo: Federico Fellini and the Lilly Library of Rare Books (Indiana University)]

(facing) Three different sketches for cardinals to be included in the ecclesiastical fashion parade in Roma: The figures are compared to a cuttlefish bone, a ray of light, and a pinball-machine flipper. [Photo: Federico Fellini and the Lilly Library of Rare Books (Indiana University)]

(below) Some of the cardinals actually represented in the film Roma based on preliminary sketches by Fellini. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive]

Fellini Film StillsFellini Sketches

er achieved wide international distribution, the work was extremely successful within Italy due to its subject matter.

In 1979, shortly after beginning work on his next film, Fellini's beloved friend and collaborator, Nino Rota, died. Rota, whose music had become virtually synonymous with Fellini's cinematic signature, had contributed music to almost all of Fellini's previous works, as well as to such important American classics as Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather.

Casanova Fellini

A pensive Fellini on the set of Il Casanova di Fellini, a financial failure but an artistic masterpiece attacking the perennial myth of the Latin lover. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art /Film Stills Archive]

Nave Dolce Poster
On an outdoor location shooting La città delle donne, Fellini shows Snàporaz (Marcello Mastroianni) how to kiss the enigmatic lady on the train (Bernice Stegers), who lures the film's protagonist to the feminist convention. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art /Film Stills Archive]

In 1980, Fellini released La città delle donne (The City of Women), a work that he intended to be a comic portrait of a traditional male who finds the new women's liberation movement in Italy incomprehensible. A difficult but rewarding film, La città delle donne was nevertheless a critical and commercial failure and, moreover, aroused the ire of a number of feminists, who saw it as the final proof of Fellini's unreconstructed male chauvinism. Germaine Greer, however, to mention only one important feminist writer, correctly saw La città delle donne as more than an aging director's jeremiad against change he could not understand.28 The year 1980 also saw Fellini publishing an important statement on his life and career, Fare un film [Making a Film], which consisted of a rewriting of a number of statements and declarations he had written or published previously.29 Meanwhile, in America, the musical Nine (based upon Fellini's 8V2) was a smash hit on Broadway.

Fellini Roma
Fellini's crew builds a scale model of the ocean liner employed in E la nave va. [Photo: Studio Longardi (Roma)]

In 1982, Fellini spent several months in Hollywood, studying the possibility of shooting a film in America. After a brief time, his mother's illness recalled the director to Italy, and the possibility of an American production was forever laid to rest. In 1983, Fellini returned to Venice for the first time in many years to screen his new work, E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On) outside competition. (Dante Ferretti would win an Oscar for his set designs with this work.) He also accepted a Golden Lion for his entire career from the Venice Film Festival in 1985, thereby sealing his reconciliation with Italy's most important film festival. In 1984, Fellini accepted an offer to shoot an advertising spot for Campari, the company that produces the distinctive Italian aperitif drink.30 He also produced another extremely interesting advertising spot for Barilla Pasta.31 Late that year, his mother finally passed away after a long illness.

Ginger Fred Fellini
Amelia (Giulietta Masina) and Pippo (Marcello Mastroianni) - once partners in a dance routine - are presented to the television audience by the master of ceremonies (Franco Fabrizi) in Ginger e Fred. [Photo: Studio Longardi (Rome)]

In late 1985, Fellini's Ginger e Fred (Ginger and Fred) premiered at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. Ever sensitive to new developments in popular culture, Fellini turned his attention in this film to the medium of television, comparing it unfavorably to the cinema because of its anonymous, impersonal artistic style. This film would be the last Fellini directed that starred his wife Giulietta Masina. In 1987, Fellini returned to the pinnacle of critical success with Intervista [Interview], a cinematic account of himself, his cinema, and his view of the process of artistic creation. Presented outside the competition at the Cannes Film Festival (where it received a tremendous standing ovation), the film was awarded first prize at the Moscow Film Festival.

The remainder of Fellini's life would mark the most difficult stage in his career. Although he was considered practically the embodiment

The Voyage Mastorna

Fellini on the set of his penultimate picture, Intervista. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive]

of the European "art" film, his films had not done well at the box office for some time. In fact, Amarcord was his last smash hit. Unlike his other European colleagues, who seemed to find a transition to Hollywood an easy matter, Fellini never felt comfortable with the idea of shooting a film outside Italy or outside Cinecitta, even though, from the time of La strada, he could have easily done so. Limiting his possibilities to Italy by his own choice, Fellini found himself in some difficulty, since many of his old producers had either retired or were unwilling to invest funds in his various projects. Nevertheless, in 1990, he did release his final feature film, La voce della luna (The Voice of the Moon), which continued the social critique of contemporary Italy he had begun with Ginger e Fred. Fellini's final work represents a very negative image of Italy, a country deaf to the messages from the irrational or the unconscious. The film pictures a pop culture dominated by television, rock music, and intrusive advertising. Fellini's aim is to ask his audience to consider paying more attention to their inner voices, those linked to the mysterious figure of the moon, which has always intrigued poets as a symbol of love, creativity, and poetic inspiration.

In 1991, Fellini shot three brief advertising spots for the Bank of Rome. These commercials, aired the following year, are particularly interesting, since they find their inspiration in various dreams Fellini had sketched out in his dream notebooks during his career. They also involved the interpretation of dreams in the spot itself, with Fernando Rey (who died shortly thereafter) playing the role of a psychoanalyst who attempts to persuade Paolo Villaggio (one of Italy's premier comic actors and a star of La voce della luna) that the content of his unsettling dreams should convince him to place his money with the Banco di Roma.32 They were to be Fellini's final creations on film.

In 1993, Fellini journeyed for a final visit to Hollywood to receive his fifth Oscar, this time to honor his entire career. His endearing remarks to his wife Giulietta, in tears in the audience, will long be remembered as one of the most touching scenes in a ceremony that rarely avoids the kitsch or the banal. On 3 August of the same year, Fellini was incapacitated by a stroke while he was lodging in his beloved Grand Hotel in Rimini. After being treated in Rimini and then Ferrara, Fellini returned to Rome. There, a subsequent attack killed him on 31 October. His body was laid in state inside his beloved Teatro 5 at

Satyricon Gifs

Well before his rise to international fame as the director of La vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful), Fellini recognized the comic genius of Roberto Benigni, casting him as Ivo, the slightly deranged protagonist of his final film, La voce della luna. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive]

Well before his rise to international fame as the director of La vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful), Fellini recognized the comic genius of Roberto Benigni, casting him as Ivo, the slightly deranged protagonist of his final film, La voce della luna. [Photo: The Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive]

Cinecittà, where thousands of Italians from all walks of life filed by the casket against a backdrop that had been painted for Intervista. In Felli-ni's honor, Europe's largest sound stage was renamed the Teatro Federico Fellini. His funeral took place in Santa Maria degli Angeli, and he was eventually buried in Rimini. There, his tomb is marked by a statue executed by Alberto Pomodoro; its abstract shape recalls the course of the ocean liner Rex in Amarcord. Shortly thereafter (23 May 1994), Giulietta Masina passed away as well. The passage of time has underscored the fact that Federico Fellini was Italy's most original contribution to the plastic arts of the twentieth century. His brilliant career in the cinema provided a unique blend of poetic invention, narrative fantasy, and popular Italian culture that was married to the sophisticated art of an truly cosmopolitan genius.

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    What is the plot for the temptation of doctor antonio?
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