DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Ginger and Fred

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
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    Livonia, MI USA
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    Kenneth McAlinden
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    Ginger and Fred

    Directed By: Federico Fellini

    Starring: Giuletta Masina, Marcello Mastroianni

    Studio: Warner Brothers

    Year: 1986

    Rated: PG-13

    Film Length: 127 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

    Subtitles: English

    Release Date: February 13, 2006


    Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your home.
    - David Frost

    32 years after "La Strada", Federico Fellini returns Giuletta Masina to an even stranger circus - modern television variety programming.

    The Film

    At its core, "Ginger and Fred" is a very simple story about Amelia Bonetti (Masina) and Pippo Botticella (Mastroianni). In the 1940s, they achieved a modest level of fame as traveling performers staging live recreations of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dance routines. They have been asked to reunite after over 30 years apart and appear as a nostalgia act on a Christmas special on a popular live television program called "We Are Proud to Present". The film tracks their arrival, re-acquaintance, preparation, performance, and parting from the event. Being a Fellini film, this straightforward plot is embedded in a merciless satire of modern television and surrounded by a healthy dollop of eye-popping madness.

    When the film was released, critics probably thought the television satire was too broad to be effective. Two decades later, the same critics would probably wonder why Fellini showed so much restraint. The ridiculously sexed up commercials are hardly any worse than your average Superbowl ad for Godaddy. The variety show participants, including the smarmy MC, a troupe of singing and dancing little people, a defrocked Priest getting married on the air, a man on a hunger strike to end hunting and fishing, a transvestite, a trained monkey, a woman who tape records the voices of ghosts, a former kidnapping victim, a handsome violent criminal, a cow with 18 teats, etc. would not seem all that out of place on "America's Got Talent". The satirical elements are really quite funny, and sometimes go so far over the top that they almost cross the line from "Felliniesque" to "Pythonesque".

    Fortunately for the film, Masina and Mastroianni, Fellini's greatest muse and cinematic alter-ego respectively, are more than up to the task of negotiating the viewer through all of the madness. In their 60s when the film was made, Masina's face maintained its impish glow that could elicit sympathy from the most cynical audience member, and Mastroianni could still walk the tightrope between charming and piggish as well as any actor in film. During one key scene when Pippo and Amelia have a pause in their routine due to technical difficulties, they manage to pull off a moving and heartfelt exchange of dialog even though it is punctuated at two separate instances by the mooing of the many-teated cow.

    The Video

    The image fills the entire 16:9 enhanced frame and has a slightly hazy 80s appearance to it. This could be a result of film stock in-use at the time, filters used when shooting, or both. The color scheme seems tilted somewhat towards red. Colors are very vibrant, sometimes on the edge of oversaturation. Compression artifacts are minimal on this dual-layered disc, and I only noticed ringing around high contrast vertical edges during one sequence.

    The Audio

    The Dolby Digital 1.0 track is encoded at 192 kbps. It has occasional distortion and a couple of drop-outs. As with most of Fellini's films, all of the dialog was dubbed in post-production, so synchronization is not always perfect. The subtitles seem oversimplified, sometimes leaving large chunks of dialog untranslated.

    The Extras

    The only extra is the film's theatrical trailer, presented in 16:9 enhanced widescreen with 2.0 mono sound.


    The film comes in a standard Amaray-type hard plastic case with no insert.


    In a moment of late career resurgence, Fellini manages to weave a tender story about a reunion of a couple in the September of their years into a wicked satire of the freakshow that is modern television. What's not to like? Warner's DVD presents the film in a barebones edition with an acceptable audio/visual transfer, although I suspect the English subtitles could have been more accurate. It is definitely worth a rental for the curious and a purchase for fans of the director and stars.


    Edited by Ken_McAlinden - 7/21/2009 at 06:43 pm GMT
  2. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

    Sep 19, 2002
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    Great review.

    As someone who has always found Fellini to be a bit overrated, GINGER was one of his films I thought was a bit underrated. Glad to see it on DVD.

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