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Release Date(s)1973 (February 8, 2011)
Studio(s)New World Pictures (Criterion - Spine #4)
I recognize Amarcord’s reputation as one of Federico Fellini’s more accessible films, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s a film that attempts to satirize the director’s youth by presenting it as a carnival-like depiction of the people and events of a provincial Italian seaside town during the fascist period. There is an apt comparison to be made with Fellini’s I Vitelloni, a film he made 20 years earlier in 1953. The town depicted there and the people in it and events that affect them seem real. There is a continuity to the story that entrances. In Amarcord, characters are too often mere caricatures, and events, despite being presented as those occurring as the seasons of one year pass, feel disjointed and contrived more for their effect as spectacle than as parts of a narrative flow. It’s a film that is less than the sum of its parts, amusing though some of those parts may be depending upon your reaction to Fellini’s obsessions with misshapen people, bodily functions, and women’s rear ends and breasts.
Despite the film’s shortcomings, there are few to worry about in Criterion’s Blu-ray presentation of it. The 1.85:1 transfer is an improvement over the 2006 2-disc DVD presentation, offering a clearer, sharper image and better consistency of colour. Colours do appear accurate though muted in vibrancy. There is ample grain in evidence, and some edge effects are apparent at times. The LPCM mono sound is in good shape, with clear dialogue unaffected by hiss or crackle. Nino Rota’s engaging nostalgia-inducing score is well conveyed. English sub-titling is good and an English dubbed sound track is also included.
The supplement package is an extensive one, duplicating what was provided on the 2006 DVD release though all now in HD (though not all progressive). The key items are a very good documentary on Amarcord featuring Fellini and an audio commentary by film scholars Peter Brunette and Frank Burke.
Highly recommended for Amarcord fans. Others new to the film should try a rental first.
- Barrie Maxwell