Category: Eurovisions (Italy) / In category: 1 of 10 / Overall: 6 of 100
A heady blend of ribald humour and arthouse aestheticism, Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’ is an evocation of small town life in 1930s Italy where a mischievous troupe of schoolboys lust after a buxom tobacconist (and I’m talking the kind of figure that makes Pamela Anderson look anorexic); where same recalcitrants interrupt a maths class by threading an expanding tube of paper from the back of the classroom, under row upon row of desks, until it’s just short of the blackboard at which the teacher is labouring, whereupon one of their number micturates through it, the tube swiftly retracted upon completion; where Volpina (Josiane Tanzilli), the good-natured but insatiable town hooker, goes touting for business at a building site only to be moved along by a foreman who prefers his labours to compose poetry than chase after women; where a man let out of an insane asylum for a day trip takes to the top branches of a tree, repelling all who attempt to approach him with stones, and proves himself of the same mindset as the builders, demanding of the fields, barns and farmhouses that stretch off into the distance, “I want a woman!”; where local femme fatale Gradisca (Magali Noël) turns heads as she shimmies through the town square, a vision in red, en route to the cinema to sigh over Gary Cooper; where the quiet streets can at any moment erupt into boisterous activity as a political rally ends in gunfire and arrests or a motor race detours through the town; where the townsfolk en masse board pleasure cruisers and paddleboats and spend a long evening edging into night bobbing on the choppy waters just to watch a liner from America steam past; and where the shadow of fascism darkly encroaches and one poor unfortunate finds himself interrogated and forced to consume castor oil following an ill-advised political remark.
‘Amarcord’ (which means “I remember”) contains all of life and absolutely no plot. Its depiction of those small and quirky moments that invariably form themselves into the clearest of memories is deeply nostalgic, and ‘Amarcord’ rings as true to someone who grew up in England in the 1970s as it must do to anyone who came of age in the time and place Fellini focuses on. And yet it is completely unrealistic, as obviously a movie movie as anything by Tarantino, with a bicycle-wheeling lawyer blithely breaking the fourth wall everytime he wanders into shot, tipping a wink to the audience and proffering another avuncular anecdote.
Indeed, ‘Amarcord’ is the cinematic equivalent of a raconteur propping up the bar and leading his audience through an interlinked sequence of tall tales, none of which have any real point or meaning but are delivered with such panache and sly wit that their very telling is the raison d’etre. It takes a special talent to achieve this verbally, a rare one to do so in writing and the requirement that one is an honest-to-God genius in the medium of cinema. ‘Amarcord’ is directed by Fellini. I rest my case.