Federico Fellini: The Grandmaster of Dreams

Irina Bagauri

"Fellini is a great man. He understands that perfectly well and everyone tells him that he is great. Consequently, great things revolve around him – gigantic beds, huge hats, immense bottoms of women. However, the world viewed by Fellini, in contrast to the décor of his films, is small, extremely tiny and contained within narrow frames. His world is a province, a microcosm, in which people are diseased with elephantiasis." This is how the great maestro was described by his younger colleague and another great film director, Bernardo Bertolucci.

That description, as well as the creative works of both film directors, caused uproar. At the end of the day, however, they agreed that there was nothing wrong with one director seeing, primarily, large bottoms and microcosms in the creations of another; the important thing is that those words were effective. Phrases devoid of any resonance are merely not suitable for Fellini.

Born in a small town of Italy, Federico Fellini is one of the greatest film directors in the history of cinematography. Along with five Oscars and numerous international prizes, Fellini was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and the airport in his native town of Rimini was named after him.

In order to move to the capital city from his native provincial town, at quite a young age, Fellini enrolled in law school at the University of Rome. Upon arriving in Rome, however, he soon got down to making his dream come true – first, he started writing articles and screenplays and then moved on to shooting movies. Art had been his main preoccupation from early childhood. He displayed a talent for drawing at a very early age and, until the end of his life, entertained himself by making various sketches and caricatures. According to his recollections, in order to watch films he used to sneak out of his house without asking the permission of his parents and go to the movie theatre in his town.

A still from the movie La Dolce Vita.
In one of the interviews he gave in the 1980s, Federico Fellini explained the essence of art and his activities: "I think life needs to be interpreted. If we leave our daily life unattended it will lose all sense and meaning; it will seem terrible. Art is a means to create feelings of coziness, confidence and makes our lives more protected. It forces us to think about our existence which, taken separately, may represent only a combination of hearts that beat, stomachs that digest food, lungs that breathe and eyes that see scenes that lack sense."

Fellini's colleagues christened his creative work neo-realist magic: "He does not make magic into reality but adds magic hues to everyday stories." He is a film director of hopes and dreams. Viewers of his films remember the magical characters Fellini created almost forever. It does not matter who the actors are portraying – public officials, sentimental prostitutes or tired housewives – their articulation, manner, and even their gait were always expressive and challenging.

Twenty years have passed since the death of the great artist. A number of exhibitions, meetings and performances have been conducted to commemorate this date all over the world. This year's Venice carnival was dedicated to the memory of Federico Fellini. In Tbilisi, the Embassy of Italy will conduct a retrospective of Fellini's movies in the first week of September. The films will be screened in the Simon Janashia State Museum of Georgia. Five works of the great film director will be shown in Tbilisi: "Lo sceicco bianco"; "Roma"; "La Dolce Vita"; "I Vitelloni"; and "Ginger e Fred".

Much has been written and said about his life and creative work. However, as an old man Federico Fellini described himself and his life in the following way: "I do not have a sense that time passes. It seems to me that I am on the scene, standing motionless on one place and everything that surrounds me is ready – objects, the necessary inventory, pictures, people, feelings, colors. Indeed, that has always been the case. Since I started living my life, i.e. started working on movies, time seems to have stopped. It seems that there is just one and the same day; I have always lived in a theater, shouting into the megaphone; was a charlatan, a clown, a commissar, a general. Memories of those past 40 years are simultaneously dark and bright. It is dark somewhere above and light surrounds me with shadows moving here and there. I think my life has come and continues coming to an end against those shots."


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