Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born, Salvo Randone
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
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|Fellini's "Satyricon" is one of the few Fellini films that I think I come close to actually getting. Fortunately, I don't think truly "getting" a Fellini film is necessary for complete surrender to and enjoyment of the film. He has always had a consistency in being able to hold my interest and intrigue me with his films. This film is no exception.
"Satyricon" is written and directed by Fellini based loosely on a book by Petronius. While the book has survived only in fragments, this film takes that exact approach with a nearly identical ending that is quite appropriate and effective.
To describe "Satyricon" is beyond the way my mind works...but, generally I would describe it as a Roman (as in Ancient Roman Era) Romantic Comedy...It deals with two male lovers who break up, fight over custody of a boy who decides who he will live with...they go through a series of misadventures that only Fellini could successfully film.
If you require strict adherence to plot, "Satyricon" is definitely not for you. It simply doesn't adhere to plot. It is a wonderland in terms of cinematography and a true visual joy. The film's dialogue is sheer poetry, however, for many moviegoers this is a challenge. Personally, I find it a joy.
"Satyricon" deals with many traditional Roman topics that remain relevant...history, architecture, morality, mythology, poetry...It deals with them from a more philosophical approach...allowing the viewer to surrender to the experience and walk away from the film with a very individualized interpretation.
The cast becomes a part of the tapestry of the film...we are not so much dealing with performances and we are creating presence within the context of this poetry. In other words, to say that any one performance stood out would do a tremendous injustice to the wholeness of the film. Kudos must go to Danilo Donati's production design and costuming for the film...they are simply stellar.
Fellini received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for this film, and it is well-deserved...there are, however, a couple of the vignettes within the film that felt a touch long...
Some would say this film is "pretentious." I would have to agree that Fellini has always had a touch of pretentiousness about him...however, he makes it work within the context of a film. While it could be a detriment, it is not.
Please be advised that, much like most of Fellini's films, this film deals with mature subject matter. If you are offended by honest depictions of homosexuality, the Roman acceptance of men and young boys together and a generally open depiction of sexuality then this film is guaranteed to offend. It is honest, open and uninhibited in its portrayal of its subject. I prefer to consider it authentic.
For the adventurous, open-minded moviegoer observing a Fellini film at some point in life is nearly a must. I can't imagine considering myself a true lover of film and never having experienced the artistic integrity and vision of Fellini. Fellini's "Satyricon" is brave, unusual, honest and authentic.
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic