10
May
13

Amarcord (1973)

Amarcord is a film with no story. With Federico Fellini at the helm, who needs a story, anyway? Instead of a cohesive plot, the film is a series of memories, but certainly not real memories. No, rather they are the vague idea of memories, painted with a heavy coat of bright color, nostalgia, and hyperbole.

Naughty boys!

Naughty boys!

The action is centered around a boy named Titta and his family, who live in a small, coastal Italian town, probably not unlike the one Fellini grew up in himself. Titta’s got it bad for the local hottie, Gradisca. His classmate Ciccio wants nothing more than to be loved by Aldina. Volpina, the local prostitute, wants to be loved by everyone. Titta’s uncle just wants a woman; any woman. So badly, in fact, he’ll shout from the treetops for one. The local pedlar has had many women, or so he says.

Volpina.

Volpina.

The film follows this cast of characters through a year of life in this small town. As the seasons change we get some insight into the town’s traditions. The intermittent sound of an empty wind reminds us that what we’re watching isn’t reality, but an intimation of someone’s remembrance of what reality might have been to them.

Remember that time the harem stayed at our local hotel?

Remember that time the harem stayed at our local hotel?

Everything in this film is gorgeous, of course. And, since we’re seeing the action through the eyes of a pubescent boy, it’s rife with shaking backsides and bulging breasts. Not in an obscene way, though; it’s more cartoonish than anything. One thread keeping the fabric of the film together is the narrator, both removed from the action and part of the action at the same time – an all-knowing storyteller who, in fact, knows nothing at all. His stories are only stories, with perhaps a seed of truth at their root; the kind of stories you want to be true about the place you came from.

Remember that time we all waited for that big boat?

Remember that time we all waited for that big boat?

So, what’s the point of a film with no plot that tells little stories that aren’t true? Well, that’s debatable, of course, but to me the movie is all about the meaning of memory. What’s more important: what actually happened, or what you remember happening? The actual events, or how they shaped you and your life? I think Fellini and I are both siding with the latter.

Remember the time that midget nun got our crazy uncle out of the treetops?

Remember the time that midget nun got our crazy uncle out of the treetops?

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