Fellini: I’m a Born Liar

The Maestro
Film review by: Witney Seibold

            I have to say this right off: despite being a lover of film, I am not a huge Federico Fellini fan. I respect his work, and recognize his influence on the world of cinema (Woody Allen could not have existed without him), but I don’t particularly enjoy the few films of his that I have seen. Damian Pettigrew, however, director of the new documentary on the Maestro, “Fellini: I’m a Born Liar,” obviously is. His film does nothing to enhance the views of the uninitiated, but it displays a passion, a respect, and a very insightful portrait into one of the world’s best filmmakers. Far more insightful than any possible “featurette” often included with films on the hastily slapped together DVD release.
            Federico Fellini died in 1993, and was the auteur behind such classics as “8 ½,” “La Dolce Vita,” “Amarcord,” and “Juliet of the Spirits.” Pettigrew was able to rather extensively interview the man for this film, and we see his insights into his egocentric world. He gives his views on actors (“puppets”), women (“the unexplored planet”)(?), and the art of directing (“the film directs me”). These revealing interviews reinforced my personal views of the man: pompous, pretentious, arrogant, egotistical, a perverted philanderer, and an important and passionate visionary artist. We also get old on-set footage of him belittling his actors, most of whom resent him; telling words come from Donald Sutherland (“Casanova”), who described him as a “tartar and a dictator.” We get a rather amusing anecdote from Terrence Stamp (“Toby Dammit”) who describes a bit of Fellini’s direction of Stamp’s character having been at an orgy the night before, “and in the morning someone put big tab LSD in your mouth. Now you’re here.”
            Other names pop up (Roberto Benigni, Italo Calvino), but it’s difficult to identify them, and it is here that the film’s main weakness and it’s identity as a treatise strictly for Fellini fans appears: there are no intro captions. Not for the speakers, not for the film clips. We’re expected to know already. It alienated me a little. Like I said, I’m not a huge fan, but this film will most certainly be important for everyone who is.

Published in: on May 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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