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Amarcord - Blu-ray Review

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Amarcord Blu-ray Review

5 Stars

Beginning with the celebration of the arrival of spring by means of a massive bonfire in the center of town, Frederico Fellini’s Amarcord ignites in a blaze of heavy childhood memories.  That’s its purpose.  Amarcord literally means, “I remember” and that’s exactly what Fellini does with this autobiographical classic from 1973.  Episodic and suddenly surreal, Fellini’s comedic coming-of-age narrative provides a spirited sense of Romagna, during the reign of Mussolini, that only the master of baroque can provide.

The opening moments are certainly a joyous occasion as spring arrives in the coastal town of Borgo.  Long was the winter and the citizens, rather a motley crew of denizens from all walks of life, are eager to burn the Old Witch of Winter that has plagued them with nothing but cold.  In quick and boisterous regale, Fellini’s script introduces us to the players of his kaleidoscope memory: there’s the town idiot Giudizio (Aristide Caporale), the beautiful Gradisca (Magali Noël),  the blind accordionist (Domenica Pertica), the sex addict Volpina (Josiane Tanzilli), and our protagonist Titta (Bruno Zanin).  The film follows his exploits through the town, documenting an entire year in the life which finds him absent as the film concludes.{googleads}

Poignant, passionate, and playful, Amarcord is nothing short of amazing.  The portrayal of the Biondi family is ingenuously bawdy and so far removed from puritanical restraints that the film is constantly engaging and surprising in its content.  There is a dreamlike quality about the entire set-piece of Borgo, the fictional town on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, which makes the happenings the film documents all that more acceptable.  Bright and sunny, then suddenly dark with heavy mist and fog, Borgo is certainly a place where anything – including the giant face of fascism – could happen.

Amarcord Blu-ray Review

Titta’s boyish adventures throughout lead him to Fellini’s own conclusions about religion and women and, as amusing as they are, there’s also a sense of innocence lost that kicks about in the dust of their on-screen landings.  Titta being allowed a prolonged look and a lick of the hot tobacconist’s (Maria Antonietta Beluzzi) bountiful boobs is certainly only one example of how unnervingly matured some of the uncultured jokes become.

Surrounded by flatulence and death, it’s no wonder Titta wonders off in a cloud of “puffballs” at the film’s conclusion.  Critics in the past have suggested Amarcord is a flawed masterpiece as it hangs on to the low-brow humor while striking iron batons against the defences of fascism.  Clearly, those critics fail to see the passion of life’s struggles; turning nature – at times of struggle – into the joke it has to be in order to maintain strength in a million little joys.

Yet, through it all, Titta’s story remains and resonates with the audience in such unexpectedly profound and undisciplined ways.  There’s a crude hope sealing Fellini’s cinematic document; a hope that life can find the humor to survive the plague of fascism he absolutely criticizes here.  Fellini lands the explosive satire of one of his most well-received films with the explosive matter of a missile and he, like the brilliant director he was, always hits his target.

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{2jtab: Film Info}

Amarcord Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R.
Director
: Federico Fellini
Writer
: Federico Fellini & Tonino Guerra
Cast: Pupella Maggio; Armando Brancia; Magali Noël; Ciccio Ingrassia; Nando Orfei
Genre
: Foreign
Tagline:
The Fantastic World of Fellini!
Memorable Movie Quote: "When the puffballs come, cold winter's almost gone."
Distributor:
New World Pictures
Release Date:
September 19, 1974 (USA)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 8, 2011

Synopsis: A year in the life of a small Italian coastal town in the nineteen-thirties, as is recalled by a director with a superstar's access to the resources of the Italian film industry and a piper's command over our imaginations. Federico Fellini's film combines the free form and make-believe splendor with the comic, bittersweet feeling for character and narrative we remember from some of his best films of the 1950s. The town in the film is based on Rimini, where Mr. Fellini grew up. Yet there is now something magical, larger-than-life about the town, its citizens and many of the things that happen to them.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Amarcord Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 8, 2011
Screen Formats:1.85:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
Italian: LPCM Mono; English: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

With much crisper contrast and brighter colors than its DVD predecessor, Amarcord arrives on blu-ray courtesy of the fine folks over at Criterion. The grain is stronger than previously seen and everything is consistent with impeccable precision. Dirt and random debris has been cleared from the print during its transfer. With two audio tracks, Italian LPCM 1.0 and English Dolby Digital 1.0, Criterion provides viewers with the opportunity to listen to Amarcord as it was originally intended or in an English-dubbed version.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Recorded in 2006, the commentary features two film studies professors Peter Brunette and Frank Burke deconstructing the meaning and joy of the film.  Recorded in English exclusively for Criterion’s use, the commentary is a necessity for fans of the film.

Special Features:

On top of a massive 64-page booklet documenting Sam Rohdie’s essay about Fellini and Fellini’s own writing, Criterion has done an impressive job in providing this release with an abundance of quality supplemental materials that makes this a fascinating and informative release.  The highlight is the documentary which explains – in wonderful detail – how the film came to be and the interviews conducted by Bachmann.

  • Fellini's Homecoming (45 min)
  • Interview with actress Magali Noel (16 min)
  • Film Critic Gideon Bachmann Interviews…
    • …Fellini (30 min)
    • …Friends and Family (60 min)
  • 2006 DVD Restoration Demonstration (6 min)
  • Deleted Scene (4 min)
  • U.S. Trailer (4 min)
  • Fellini's Drawings
  • Felliniana

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