- Jun 13, 2002
Amarcord (2006 re-issue)
Studio: The Criterion Collection #4
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays
Audio: English DD 1.0
Time: 124 minutes
Disc Format: 2 DVD-9’s
Case Style: Cardboard slipcase with fold out digipack.
Theatrical Release Date: 1973
DVD Release Date: September 5, 2006
I was a Frederico Fellini virgin going into this picture, so I’m glad to say that has now been remedied. I think I’m fortunate to get my first exposure to Fellini with Amarcord, a picture he did at the height of his creativity. Based on the director’s childhood and growing up in the Italian village of Rimini, we are introduced to a group of characters and a slice of their lives through various vignettes. While the film tries to present itself in a very straightforward manner, it veers off into dream like romanticisms of Fellini’s memories. By watching, we are quick to find we may be seeing some version of what may have happened, but the vessel that is delivering it is going to corrupt the truth. I think it is safe to say this happens with all of us as we ascribe our feelings to events in our memories, be it good or bad.
Fellini’s dream world is populated by people who are deep in their familial relationships and those searching for their own families. I don’t mean this in the literal sense of physically looking, but everyone here wants to find that one person who will make their life happier or complete: the schoolboys yearn for the schoolgirls, the town hottie longs for her prince, the whore looks for anyone. This longing is pursued by acknowledging and giving into adolescent passion and curiousness about burgeoning sexuality. Fellini is sometimes very overt in how this manifests itself: one young man seat hops in a theater to make a move on the object of his desire, yet later, when another potential conquest catches him instead (and damn near smothers him with her very ample bosom, poor kid), he winds up sick in bed. In other scenes, a young man simply yells out, “I want a woman!” In just about every scene there is a point to be made about how we chase our dreams to find those we want to be with.
The picture begins as winter ends, as the puffballs of the trees are the towns sign that spring is here. Fellini and his lawyer narrator tracks the characters through the coming year by having their feelings come into sync with the weather; winter brings death, spring, again, brings re-birth and hope and the beginning of new lives via a wedding. Nino Rota’s stirring score serves to enhance these seasons and moods, while Fellini knows just the right time to leave someone in shadow or leave them turned a certain way to marry sound and picture into a unified thought.
While watching my first Fellini film, I noticed how much I now see him in the work of David Lynch, Tim Burton, and even John Waters in terms of how these directors exploit sexuality, use drawings to realize his thoughts and use non-sequitors to spin the audience expectations on their ear. Great movies should make you appreciate the art of film making, which Amacord does, but it transcends this for me by making me look at other favorite movies of mine in a whole new light. Great movies also seek to make you ask new questions about your life and what you want out of it. It is my sincere hope it has the same affect on you.
The picture is correctly framed at 1.85:1 and it is an anamorphic transfer. Criterion is good enough to provide us with more information about the transfer itself, so I will pass this along: “This new, high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from the 35mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System.” The picture is beautiful with deep blacks and nice saturation in the flesh tones to match the surroundings. Overall, colors are bold and accurate showing good differences between the flesh tones of the actors and crisp lines around objects. Detail is good but the picture exhibits fluctuating levels of grain which tend to take away from some of the fine details. Edge enhancement was minimal. I do not have the original release of this title, so I was unable to compare the two versions. However, Criterion has added a five minute restoration demonstration on the second disc. It is an excellent look at the work that went into this new release.
I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital mono track engaged. As would be expected, there is not much to a mono soundtrack in terms of it being dynamic. Instances of ADR are apparent throughout the movie. Criterion tells us, “The soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a magnetic track print, and audio restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss, and crackle.” LFE’s were non-existent. There is also an optional English dubbed soundtrack.
Bonus Material: Criterion spreads out the features over both discs.
Audio commentary by film Scholars Peter Brunette and Frank Burke: a new commentary recorded in 2006. Burke is the author of Fellini’s Films. The two do a serviceable job of academic and high-brow commenting throughout via their Siskel and Ebert approach to the picture.
Fellini’s Homecoming (44:14): A new documentary that discusses the relationships between Fellini, his work and his hometown. We get an excellent portrait of Fellini and his hometown from his friends, including the real Titta, crew members and actors. In Italian, with English subs.
Video interview with Magali Noel (15:31): In this new interview, Gradisca herself shares her memories of the shoot and Fellini. Noel goes into detail Fellini’s specificity in Gradisca’s look. In Italian, with English subs.
Audio interviews with Fellini, his friends and family by Gideon Bachmann (1:37): There are two separate interviews, one with Fellini, one with his family. This can be a little slow since it lacks the video to keep us occupied, but still an interesting listen if you have the time.
Fellini’s drawings of characters in the film Fellini did color drawings of the characters as a preparation of filming. Included here are several sketches followed by stills of the filmed characters.
”Felliniana,” (12:11): a presentation of memorabilia devoted to Amarcord, from the collection of Don Young. There are 22 stills, 13 posters, 23 lobby cards, a copy of the 1973 Cannes press packet, the UK and US press packets, various French, Japanese and German press items, book covers and radio ads. Quite a collection!
American release trailer (3:46): A very rough looking trailer, but a nice extra.
Deleted scene (3:03): A quick, soundless scene that was found in some early elements of the film. It was a scene in the original book.
New restoration demonstration (5:25): Criterion saves me the trouble of comparing the two releases by showing us a great five minute comparison of the previous release to this new one. A truly excellent piece of info I hope Criterion does on more releases.
Also included in the package is a 63 page booklet with an essay by film professor Sam Rhodie and a 40 page essay by Fellini called My Rimini where he reminisces about his home town.
Longing in a war torn world where dreams help to make it all real. Fellini shows us a version of his childhood that will resonate in all of us, and Criterion’s loving new edition gives us a great set of extras and a great new transfer that helps to give the viewer a well rounded view of the director.