Amarcord (1973) from Tuna

Amarcord is essentially Federico Fellini's love poem to Rimini, the small town where he grew up in the 30s. In fact, the title itself is a phrase ("I Remember") in the Rimini dialect (Romagna) rather than proper Italian. This is essentially a character piece rather than a plot-driven story, but in this case the main character is the town itself. Fellini paints a detailed portrait of the town, the influences of Fascism, and many of the townspeople. The film opens with puffballs from dandelions blowing into town announcing spring, and covers a full year. We, along with the young men of the town, follow the pendulous motion of "Sil Vous Plait's" posterior. We feel the seasons, live through the frustrations of adolescence, and watch as most of the adult population accepts Fascism.

Criterion released this film some years ago, as their fourth DVD, but technology has advanced to the point that they were able to create a far superior version, and added a disk of special features, as well as a commentary by two Fellini experts. The Fellini experts, who seem to have built entire careers just finding the symbolism in the master's work, found plenty here. They obsessed on the role of women in the spread of Fascism, using the status of women as allegory, or something equally academic. Roger Ebert, on the other had, saw the film the way I did, as a loving remembrance of the town where Fellini was raised, and the simple yet wonderful people who inhabited it. There is some justification for Ebert's position, as many involved in the production, when questioned in the special features, including Fellini himself, agreed with Ebert's view of the film. Of course, I learned from a High School English teacher that just because an author claims they put no symbolism into a work, it doesn't mean the symbolism isn't there.

In my extensive experience traveling, I have found that people all over the world are more alike than different, which helps explain why there is a great deal that is universal in the portrait of this Italian town. Amarcord is widely considered one of Fellini's best films and is probably his most personal and accessible. Perhaps his funniest as well. And his visuals are as brilliant as ever, the most memorable of which is of a peacock spreading its wings in a snowstorm. Even if you usually don't like character pieces or work by arthouse directors, you may well enjoy this one. 



This is one of the better Criterion releases to date. There are three soundtracks, Italian, an excellent English dub, and the commentary. Subtitles are also available. Included in the special features is a before-and-after comparison of the earlier release and this one. Other features include a companion book with essays about Fellini and one written by Fellini himself about his home town. On-disk features include a new 45 minute documentary about Fellini's relationship to the town of Rimini, an interview with female lead Magali Noel, Fellini's drawings of characters in the film, and much more.



Maria Antonietta Beluzzi, as the ample town tobacconist, shows her enormous breasts trying to get one of the young men to suck them, and nearly suffocating him in the process.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus:  three and a half out of four stars.  Roger Ebert 4/4, BBC 4/5.

  • It won the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and was nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.


The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a B-, perhaps the only Fellini film that truly reaches out to mainstream audiences. The Criterion DVD is a must-own for anyone who loves film.

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