Email this review


 Spanning more than 40 years, this collection of Italian journalist Costantini's interviews with Fellini is a cinephile's delight. Fellini was almost as famous for his ceaseless talking as he was for his directing. Still, the recent spate of ``conversations with Fellini'' books is truly prodigious--he seems to have talked nonstop for several decades. Despite the crowded field, Costantini, a reporter for Il Messaggero, is easily the frontrunner. Unlike other interviewers, who allowed the director to go on at maddening length on any number of ephemeral topics, Costantini carefully sifts Fellini's perorations for bright, essential nuggets. And Costantini's knowledge of film and filmmakers is first-rate: extensive and critically aware without being pedantic. Credit is also due to translator Sorooshian for capturing in English--where so many others have failed--the idiosyncratic, poetically pitched savor of Fellini's speech: ``For my generation cinema was a mythic phenomenon which assumed the dimensions of the great events of existence. Beyond its cultural and visual aspects, it was part of life, like engagement, sex and marriage, snow and Christmas.'' Costantini does spend a little too much time going over old ground, trying to correct minor points of fact or forcing his reluctant subject to retell shopworn anecdotes or opine on minor issues of the day. But when the two get talking about Fellini's work, the book really takes off, producing insight after insight into the director's process and aesthetics. With their unstructured storytelling, their emphasis on dreams and imagination and improvisation, Fellini's films are the compelling antithesis of the slick, tightly wound Hollywood product that dominates world cinema today. He may very well be one of the last major directors allowed to make such personal and eccentric films. A 10 for Fellini, an 8´ for Costantini. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 1997
ISBN: 0-15-600440-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harvest/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996