"I, FELLINI" by Charlotte Chandler


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A frenetic, inflated outing with one of the world's great filmmakers, who died in 1993 at the age of 73. Except for a brief afterword, Chandler (The Ultimate Seduction, 1984, etc.) seems content to turn the tape recorder on and let Fellini ramble away in his inimitable stream-of-consciousness style. So we are treated to Fellini on dogs (he likes them), astrology (might be something in it), bicycling (a sensible way to get about), and occasionally a choice tidbit about one of his films, such as La Dolce Vita or La Strada. Repetitiousness is just one of the many Fellini-esque excesses indulged in here: epicurean ecstasies on food, unreconstructed ravings on women, and dream after dream after dream. At times it feels like being trapped in a small room with a madman. And yet moments of pure insight, epiphanic understanding of the human condition keep breaking through, like flecks of gold uncovered in the dust. This is also as close an approximation of an autobiography as we'll ever get (and Chandler is to be commended, at least, for imposing a rough kind of chronology and structure onto the material). Fellini superstitiously thought an autobiography would spell the end of his career and hasten his death. He also thought the mundane reality of dates and events paled in comparison with the cherished realm of ""fantasies, dreams, and imagination. That is the real person, naked."" Like Freud, Fellini was a relentless explorer of the unconscious. He was also unique among major directors for dubbing his movies. For him, it was the face, the gesture, the mien that was important. Actors could say anything as long as the visual reality was right. The proper dialogue could always be dubbed later. If only such a thing were possible here. Instead, we get Fellini in too many of his own words.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Random