Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 7th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, December 25th, 1970
Director: Federico Fellini
Writers: Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi
Cast: Kristine DeBelle, Terri Hall, Larry Gelman, Alan Novak, Bree Anthony
DVD released: March 1st, 2011
Approximate running time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Raro Video
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.98
By the early 1960’s Federico Fellini had firmly established as one of the premier filmmakers in the world. After the one, two punch, of La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. For the remainder of the 1960’s. He would find it difficult to duplicate the success of La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. The latter half of the 1960’s can be seen as his most transitional period of his career. In 1965 he would direct his first color feature film Juliette of the Spirits. His only previous foray with color was via his segment for the 1962 anthology film Boccaccio ’70. The other two projects from this era include the vastly underrated Satyricon and the Toby Dammit segment from Spirits of the Dead. A segment that many regard as his greatest achievement as a filmmaker.
The Clowns is a 1970 made for television program that director Federico Fellini made from RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana). The Clowns original aired in black & white. It would finally make its debut in color. When the film was released theatrically.
Narrative wise The Clowns is not so much a linear story. As it is a film that celebrates clowns via a series of loosely connected scenes. Content wise the film cleverly blurs the line between fiction and reality. With the plot focusing stories about world renowned clowns. The most surprising aspect of this production is just how the scenes with Federico Fellini and his film crew blind into the whole grand scheme of things.
The Clowns would mark cinematographer Dario Di Palma’s first and only collaboration with Federico Fellini. Some of Dario Di Palma’s other notable films as a cinematographer include Death Laid an Egg and Sergio Corbucci’s The Specialists. From a production stand point several of Federico Fellini’s key collaborators like editor Ruggero Mastroianni and composer Nino Rota. Lend their considerable talents to this evocative tribute to clowns.
Raro Video Presents The Clowns in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. This film was shot both on television and theatrically. This transfer appears to an open matte presentation. With the film being matted for theatrical exhibition. Colors fare well, flesh tones look healthy and details generally look crisp. Black levels ranges from average to good. There source used for this transfer is in very good shape and there are no problems with compression. There is noticeable edge enhancement that varies in degree throughout.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital mono mix in Italian and removable English subtitles have been included. Outside of some very mild instances of background noise. The audio is in good shape as dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced. With Nino Rota’s score benefits most from this audio mix.
Extras for this release include a lengthy video essay about the film titled ‘Fellini’s Circus’ (42 minutes 20 seconds – in Italian with English subtitles), a short film also directed by Federico Fellini titled ‘Agenzia matrimoniale – Marriage Agency’ (16 minutes 36 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles) and a fifty page booklet with that contains Federico Fellini’s reflections about this production. The video essay does a reasonably good job setting up how this project came about and how it references other films that were also directed by Federico Fellini. The film’s stand out extra is the text based interview / comments from Federico Fellini. The short film included with this release is one of six segments that make up the 1953 film L’Amore In Citta (Love in the City). Overall The Clowns gets a well rounded DVD release from Raro Video.