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David Thomson is the author of The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies—and What They Have Done to Us; Have You Seen . . . ? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films; and The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.
Pupella Maggio, Magali Noël, Armando Brancia, Bruno Zanin,
In Amarcord Fellini calls on the free-spirited fantasies of his later films, as well as the bittersweet comedy and intimate sense of detail of the early ones, to evoke a year in the life of this the small Italian coastal town of Rimini in the mid-1930s. Amarcord is filled with phantasmagorical gems from the director’s imagination. But the film is also rooted in history, filtered through memory: focusing on one family of perfectly normal eccentrics, Fellini examines their impact on one another’s lives and the impact of life on them through a series of interacting tales. Fascism was a fact of life and, for Fellini, a focal point around which to examine the community, the Church, the state, and the family—all of the elements that made Mussolini’s acceptance possible. Like his protagonist Titta, in this film Fellini looks to the past for “the source of our illusions, our innocence and our feelings.” But for Fellini, it is also a catharsis: “I made Amarcord to finish with youth and tenderness,” he said.