Written by: John White on March 17th, 2006
Release Date: Italy, 1973
Director: Federico Fellini
Cast: Pupella Maggio, Armando Brancia, Magali Noël, Ciccio Ingrassia, Nando Orfei, Luigi Rossi, Bruno Zanin
DVD released: September 27, 2004
Approximate running time: 118 mins
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Warner brothers
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £12.99
Titta is growing up in pre WWII Italy with his eccentric family in a seaside town. His father is a target for the uprising wave of fascism, his uncle climbs trees and his priest is most concerned with whether he masturbates. In the town there is a stallholder who makes up tall tales of erotic conquests, a lawyer who rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, the glamorous but ageing Gradisca, and the busty tobacconist.
Amarcord is a wistful revisit of Fellini’s youth with tall tales, glamorous dreams and inventive lies. This is all done in a broadly comic fashion which is unashamedly crude and very poignant. Throughout Amarcord men fart, piss and ogle women. They eye Fellini brings to this is that of a child himself and the constant parade of bums and busts is an honest representation of the puberty of Titta.
Essentially, Amarcord is an episodic attempt to recreate a time and a place rather than a real story and as such can be dismissed for pure nostalgia. But what episodes these are, so good that Amarcord constantly reminds me of Guiseppe Tornatore’s later Cinema Paradiso with the same tramp in the square and the same scenes in the cinema. If you enjoy Cinema Paradiso I would advise reviewing it after seeing Amarcord as it is clearly heavily influenced by it.
One of Fellini’s great achievements in cinema is the lack of reliance on narrative and the use of film to create a sense of atmosphere or to communicate a complex feeling. As he remarked to Dino de Laurentiis when asked about the meaning in his films, he doesn’t have any other motive than simply expressing something – “I don’t know what they mean”.
Watching Amarcord is like a tonic after consuming innumerable filmed dramas which aspire to little other than story. Amarcord is about growing up and the sensations involved in that. The hopeless first loves, the discovery of lust and the silliness of the adult world, but above all Amarcord is about dreaming.
Amarcord is tremendous fun and a great work.
The print used for this R2 release is quite acceptable and the transfer is reliably sharp. There are odd hairs visible throughout and a lot of white specks on the film.
The sound on this release does seem awfully low to my ears although it comes in three language options with excellent english subs.
Unlike the European releases of this disc there is only one extra – a trailer.
The picture on the main feature and the fact that it is anamorphic probably make this a better purchase for the film than the R1 Criterion release, although the French 2 disc package may be the best place to go to buy this great film on dvd.