Fellini, Federico


Fellini, Federico
(1920-1993)
   Journalist, cartoonist, screen-writer, director. The most nationally celebrated and internationally renowned of all Italian directors of the postwar period, Fellini was born and raised in the northern Italian coastal town of Rimini. From a very early age he showed a flair for cartoons and as a boy was able to exchange amusing caricatures of Hollywood film stars for free admission to the local cinema.
   Having moved to Rome in 1938, ostensibly to study at the university, Fellini hawked his drawings around the city and soon became a regular contributor to the satirical journal Marc'Aurelio. The contacts he made at the journal opened up a range of possibilities for extra work, including writing skits for the radio, and it was while working on a radio program that he met the actress Giulietta Masina, whom he married in 1943. He was soon also following the example of other writers from Marc'Aurelio who moonlighted as assistant screenwriters for films being made in nearby Cinecitta, his first acknowledged screenwriting credit being for Mario Bonnard's Avanti c'e posto (Before the Postman, 1942), during the filming of which he met and befriended the actor Aldo Fabrizi. Fellini's real entry into the film industry, however, came only after the liberation of Rome in June 1944 when he was approached by out-of-work director Roberto Rossellini to help write a documentary on a Catholic priest who had been killed by the Germans for his involvement with the Resistance. By this time Fellini was making a good living from selling drawings and caricatures to Allied servicemen, but he accepted the offer and, together with established screenwriter Sergio Amidei, wrote what became the founding film of neorealism, Roma citta aperta (Rome Open City, also known as Open City, 1945). In the wake of the film's international success, he continued to work with Rossellini on the screenplay of Paisa (Paisan, 1946), parts of which he also directed, and on L'amore (Ways of Love, 1948), for which he not only wrote the second episode, Il miracolo (The Miracle), but also acted the role of the Stranger, opposite Anna Magnani.
   With his screenwriting credentials solidly established, he began to work with a number of other directors, including Pietro Germi and Alberto Lattuada, before returning to Rossellini to help write Francesco, giullare di Dio (Francis, God's Jester, 1950). Having already collaborated with Lattuada on Senzapieta (Without Pity, 1948) and Il mulino del Po (The Mill on the Po, 1948), Fellini joined forces with the more-established director to form a cooperative company with which to produce Luci del varieta (Variety Lights, 1950), a film about a motley troupe of traveling players, which they codirected. The film flopped miserably at the box office but provided Fellini with the confidence and experience to direct his first solo feature, Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik, 1952). A broad tongue-in-cheek satire on the photoromances so popular in Italy at this time, the film starred a young Alberto Sordi in a role that now seems made to measure, but Sordi's popularity was at a low ebb at the time and the film proved to be another resounding flop. Unperturbed, Fellini then made I vitelloni (Spivs, 1953). The story of five young middle-class layabouts in a provincial city that greatly resembled Fellini's own native Rimini, I vitelloni was the first film to incorporate that dimension of poetic autobiography that would mark so many of his subsequent works. Winning the Silver Lion at the Venice Festival that year, it was Fellini's first major success.
   While preparing for his next project, Fellini directed an episode for Cesare Zavattini'scompilation film, L'amore in citta (Love in the City, 1953). Fellini's L'agenzia matrimoniale (Matrimonial Agency) was generally judged the best of the film's six segments, but the film itself received scant notice and little acclaim. By this time, however, Fellini had already made what would be his first great international triumph, La strada (1954). A charming redemptive fairy tale in modern dress, the film was awarded the Silver Lion when it was first screened at the Venice Festival and soon accrued a veritable host of awards, which included not only the Oscar for Best Foreign Film but also a special prize from the Screen Directors Guild of America that was personally presented to Fellini by John Ford. After Il bidone (The Swindlers, 1955), a petty-crime drama that suffered from being edited in too much haste in order to be presented at Venice that year, and which was consequently poorly received and soon forgotten, Fellini scored another major international success with Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria, 1957). The story of a warmhearted prostitute who suffers at the hands of a cold-blooded world but whose basic goodness eventually wins out, the film was first shown at Cannes in 1957 to enormous acclaim, with Giulietta Masina winning the Best Actress award. It was also warmly received when later released in Italy as well as in the United States, where it received both the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and the New York Film Critics Award. Fellini's international reputation, already sky-high, was pushed to stratospheric heights with his next film, La dolce vita (1960). Although the title itself was ironic and the work was essentially a critique of the moral vacuum being created by the increasing affluence in Italy, the film was largely read as a celebration of the hedonistic "good life" of the rich and famous. Initially vilified in Italy by Catholic and conservative elements, who thus helped to make it a cause celebre, the film eventually proved to be an unprecedented national and international success, winning the Palme d'or at Cannes and earning Fellini yet another Oscar nomination for Best Director.
   While searching for a subject for his next major work, Fellini filmed the delightful short Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio (The Temptations of Doctor Antonio) as his contribution to Boccaccio '70 (1962), another compilation film organized by Zavattini, before making Otto e mezzo (8V2, 1963). The tragicomic and transparently autobiographical story of a film director in crisis over his next film, 8V2 proved to be another international triumph, winning two of its five Oscar nominations, seven Nastri d'argento in Italy, and the Grand Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival. Made two years later, Fellini's first film in color, Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits, 1965) generated high expectations. In the event, however, despite praising its design, many of the Italian critics voiced disappointment, although the film proved to be very popular in the United States, where it was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and received two Oscar nominations. While again exploring a number of projects for his next major work, Fellini made a brief excursion into the horror genre with Toby Dammit, his contribution to the omnibus film Tre passi nel delirio (Spirits of the Dead, 1968), and then into television with Blocknotes di un regista (Fellini: A Director's Notebook, 1969), an hour-long program commissioned by the American NBC network. He returned to the big screen with Satyricon (Fellini Satyricon, 1969), a highly personal and fragmented dream vision of ancient Rome that provoked a varied reaction world-wide but nevertheless earned Fellini another Oscar nomination for Best Director. Following another excursion into television with I clowns (The Clowns, 1970), Fellini returned to paint an equally personal and impressionistic portrait of a more modern Rome in Roma (Fellini's Roma, 1972), before making his most autobiographical film, Amarcord (1973). With its title meaning, literally, "I remember" in Fellini's native dialect, the film paraded a wonderful series of evocative but largely invented memories of provincial life in a Rimini of the 1930s, all created completely on the sound stages of Cinecitta. Critically and commercially successful worldwide, Amarcord brought Fellini the fifth Oscar of his career. There then followed what are generally, and perhaps unfairly, regarded as minor films in what already comprised an extraordinary body of work: Casanova (Fellini's Casanova, 1976), his most expensive film up to that time but also one of his least popular; Prova d'orchestra (Orchestra Rehearsal, 1979); La citta delle donne (City of Women, 1980), which provoked the ire of feminists for what was seen as its caricature of women; and E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On, 1983). Then, after a hiatus during which he bowed to necessity and filmed eyecatching advertisements for Barilla pasta and Campari liqueurs, Fellini returned to grand form with his mordant satire of Italian television in Ginger e Fred (Ginger and Fred, 1986). Having now been awarded the Golden Lion at Venice for his lifetime achievement, Fellini turned the limelight squarely back on himself in his next film, Intervista (Fellini's Intervista, 1987), an amusing, and amused, portrait of himself and of Italian cinema, painted with all the assurance of an old master. Three years later he made what would be his last film, La voce della luna (The Voice of the Moon, 1990). Adapted from a fantasy novel by Ermanno Cavazzoni and with Roberto Benigni playing the young innocent, Ivo, the film represented many of the familiar Fellinian motifs in an ever more ethereal setting in order to express the consternation of an innocent before the craziness of a postmodern world. While many critics expressed some reservations about the work and it failed, inexplicably, to find a distributor in the United States, it proved to be Fellini's most popular film in Italy after Amarcord and, as such, a fitting conclusion, perhaps, for a director who always seemed to be looking at cinema through the eyes of an awed child.
   In 1993, shortly before his death, Fellini made the journey to Hollywood, where he was presented with an honorary Academy Award for his remarkable lifetime achievement.

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Fellini, Federico — born Jan. 20, 1920, Rimini, Italy died Oct. 31, 1993, Rome Italian film director. After collaborating with Roberto Rossellini on the screenplays for Open City (1945) and Paisan (1946), Fellini undertook his first solo venture in 1952. It failed,… …   Universalium

  • Fellini, Federico — • ФЕЛЛИ НИ (Fellini) Федерико (р. 20.1.1920)    итал. режиссёр. С 1937 во Флоренции, а затем в Риме работал как журналист. Был также страховым агентом, оформителем витрин, художником карикатуристом, репортёром. С 1940 гэг мен в кино (ф. с… …   Кино: Энциклопедический словарь

  • Fellini, Federico — (1920–1993)    Born in the provincial seaside town of Rimini, Federico Fellini began his career in the cinema as a writer for popular comedians in the 1940s. His first solo film was Lo sceicco bianco (The White Sheik, 1953), which was followed by …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Fellini, Federico — (1920 1993)    Journalist, cartoonist, screen writer, director. The most nationally celebrated and internationally renowned of all Italian directors of the postwar period, Fellini was born and raised in the northern Italian coastal town of Rimini …   Guide to cinema

  • Fellini, Federico — ► (1920 93) Realizador cinematográfico italiano. Colaboró con Rossellini en la redacción de algunos guiones hasta que en 1951 dirigió su primera película: Luces de variedades. En su obra destaca una influencia neorrealista. El jeque blanco (1950) …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Fellini,Federico — Fel·li·ni (fə lēʹnē, fĕl ), Federico. 1920 1993. Italian filmmaker whose works, including La Dolce Vita (1960) and Amarcord (1973), combine social satire with elements of fantasy. * * * …   Universalium

  • Fellini, Federico —  (1920–1993) Italian film director …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Fellini — Fellini, Federico …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Federico Fellini — Données clés Naissance 20 janvier  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Fellini — Federico Fellini Federico Fellini Naissance 20 janvier 1920 …   Wikipédia en Français


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