Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 5/11/99
1974 (1998) - F.C.
Produzioni s.r.l/P.E.C.F. s.a.r.l. (Criterion)
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
Disc Rating (Video/Audio/Extras): A-, B+, B-
Specs and Features
127 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
dual-layer (layer switch at ???), Amaray keep case packaging,
theatrical trailer, restoration comparison demonstrating before and
after shots, animated menu screens with music, scene access (40
chapters), languages: Italian & English (DD 2.0 mono),
When it comes to
visual virtuosity, Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini is the grand
master. In many ways, Fellini is the director every film student
wants to be. Even when he's presenting surreal imagery, he layers in
so much reality, that you often wonder if this man actually saw
things this way. And it wasn't just his approach to film.
I don't think there's a film in his cannon, that reveals this ideal
more than Amarcord. Amarcord
was the Academy Award-wining Best Foreign Film of 1974. That's a
huge honor in my book -- but even if it hadn't been honored, I still
think it would be loved. Amarcord
focuses on a fabled version of Fellini's own youth in fascist Italy.
Fellini presents to us an utterly believable village of wierdos
living in the town of Fellini's birth, a small provincial town named
Rimini. The film is set in the 1930s - a time when fascism ruled,
and people presented their thoughts with a whisper, for fear of "the
walls having ears." The day-to-day lives of these wild
caricatures are not sinister, perverted or evil -- some are really,
really funny and some are pretty sad. All in all it presents people
living day to day like anyone else. Granted, most of us don't get
married by the giant flowery head of Mussolini, or drive imaginary
race cars through town, but perhaps in Fellini's mind, he did. The
story is structured in vignettes that sometimes cross, but sometimes
don't. It's a simple, but complicated, story about life that needs
to be seen to be fully understood, appreciated and enjoyed - so I'm
not going to point out every little bit - you'll just have to find
the film and see for yourself.
This DVD restores a severely damaged master print, preserving it
for decades to come. Not only that, but it does its magic with a
digital transfer that is dual-layered for a really nice picture.
Colors are what Fellini was all about, and they look prime on this
disc. The disc isn't 16x9, and yeah, that sucks -- but the 4:3
picture doesn't suffer one bit. The sound is nice, it's natural and
warm -- not full blown stereo, but I like what I heard. It sounds
nicer, and looks way nicer, than the theatrical prints that I have
seen at Fellini retrospectives, and for me that's a huge plus. The
disc isn't overflowing with extras, but I don't think it needs to be
either. The extras that are included here, are a shot-by-shot
comparison revealing just how damaged some aspects of this film were
and how wonderful they look now, a theatrical trailer, and a nice
animated menu screen that showcases some of the more memorable
characters from the film. There's also readapted English subtitles,
that make the film read a whole lot better -- many thanks to
Criterion for that huge plus. Older fans of Amarcord
will gain a new appreciation of the film with the new subtitles --
they're easier to read and make more sense too.
Criterion does another great service to film buffs with this disc.
Although there are no real jaw dropping supplements on this DVD
edition, we should all be happy to simply have this film in such
beautiful condition. I know I am.