By Walter Sanders
Maybe the greatest cinematic love letter ever filmed, Federico Fellini’s 1973 Amarcord is a special treat on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a multi-layered, lasagna-like love story-a good looking taste treat of Fellini’s remembrances of growing up in Rimini. Through the eyes of his alter-ego teen character Titta Biondi, Fellini tracks a year (from spring to spring) in pre-WW II Fascist Italy.
Amarcord, dialect for “I remember,” is about his love of youth, his love of the seasons passing, his love of women, his love of political folly, his love of the foibles of love, his love of Rimini, and his love of being in love, his love of memory and how it expands some images…and laughs at others.
The characters are lush and over the top. Zio Teo, the crazy uncle, sprung from the asylum for a family picnic, climbs a tree and howls for hours like a horny wolf “Voglio una donna!” (I want a woman.)
Volpina, the town slut-more nymphomaniac than prostitute-slinks along the beach and inspires even the most jaded locals to the heights of eroticism.
Gradisca, the self-possessed, verging on over-ripe, beauty, eventually falls in love and marries.
And look out for the mysterious and reckless Fu Manchu who periodically roars through town on a motorcycle. We never discover what this bike-loving, gonzo rider is all about.
The local cinema is a transformational vehicle for the town people. It delivers enticing images that expand the horizons of the young while threatening the moral standards of the priest.
Another key character is the mesmerizing score by longtime Fellini collaborator Nino Rota.
The hotel scenes, the magical midnight passing of the ocean liner, the stunning snowflakes and peacock scene will stay with you forever.
Fellini’s loving remembrance of a year in Rimini will give you a lifetime of pleasure, memories and laughter. If you haven’t seen it, you must. And if you have enjoyed the movie, experience it again. Love is sloppy, temperamental, confusing, wonderful and horrifying. Few films deliver that romantic complexity.
What is your favorite Italian romantic film?
Do you have any favorite characters from Amarcord or other Italian movies?