Editors' pick

Amarcord

Amarcord movie poster
MPAA rating: NR
Genre: Foreign
A re-release of Federico Fellini's episodic homage to life in a 1930s Italian seaside village, as seen through the eyes of a boy.
Starring: Pupella Maggio, Armando Brancia, Magali Noël
Director: Federico Fellini
Running time: 2:05
Release: Opened Mar 13, 2009
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Editorial Review

Even Federico Fellini acknowledged that he had a habit of making the same film again and again. "Amarcord" is one of his best but also one of his most characteristic. Orthodox Fellini lovers will give primacy to "La Strada" or "La Dolce Vita," but "Amarcord" has its fans, and it's easy to see why.

Janus Films is rereleasing the 1973 color classic, which mostly abandons plot for a series of wild but often touching vignettes exploring the foibles, characters and cruelties of small-time life during the fascist years in Italy. The usual cast of Fellini exotics are there: Uncle Teo, up a tree, shouting, "I want a woman!" and Gradisca, in her red dress trimmed with fur, elected queen of the town for her beauty and schooled in governing by the movies. It also confronts Italy's sick romance with Mussolini, who embodied the people's fantasies and enacted their hatreds. And no one cheered louder than lovely Gradisca.

It would be nice to say that the restoration was resplendent, that the film looks as though it were released yesterday. But it doesn't. It is still marred by the flaws that old films are heir to. It has pops and scratches and vertical lines that wander through the image like the melody of a drunken accordion player.

The biggest disappointment is the quality of Nino Rota's magnificent soundtrack, which sounds like an old LP that has gathered dust in the garage. Remastered analog recordings can sound much better than this, without too much loss of the higher frequencies. Unfortunately, this version hisses loudly in the treble range.

But it's rare to see "Amarcord" on the big screen, and no one should be scared away by a "restoration" that leaves the film looking no worse than its fabulous old self.

-- Philip Kennicott (March 13, 2009)

Contains sexual situations, brief nudity and adult themes.