Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy/France, 1983. Rai 1, Vides Produzione, Gaumont, Societa Investimenti Milanese. Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tonino Guerra. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Franco Cristaldi. Music by Gianfranco Plenizio. Production Design by Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Nazzareno Piana, Massimo Razzi. Costume Design by Maurizio Millenotti. Film Editing by Ruggero Mastroianni. Podcast: My Criterions.
This beautiful Fellini film doesn’t have much in the way of story but is a feast for the eyes and ears. A diverse group of aristocrats and commoners board a ship upon which they hold a memorial for a famous actress (Janet Suzman) whose wish was to be buried at sea. The colourful characters and their anecdotal experiences make up the first half of the film, until later when the crew pick up a crowd of stranded Serbian refugees and class conflicts erupt. The political allegory has all the subtlety of dynamite, a trademark of Fellini’s later career, but the magical cinematography and sumptuous music score make it all highly enjoyable. Moreover, Fellini’s deliberate admission, particularly in the closing sequence, that it’s all just a movie makes the artificial stylization all that much easier to swallow.