Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Crimson Femininity

As the dominant element of the film’s cinematography, mise-en-scène, and editing structure, the brilliant use of red in Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (1972) evokes the complexities of various aspects of its tragic and implosive characters’ femininity, creating a fluid symbolism that viscerally combines motherhood, sensuality, innocence, and blood.

Cries and Whispers depicts the psychologically confrontational and infrequently compassionate relationships between four women in turn-of-the-century Sweden: Agnes (Harriet Andersson), who is slowly dying from cancer; her ethically and emotionally unsavory sisters, Marie (Liv Ullmann) and Karin (Ingrid Thulin); and Anna’s humble and affectionate maid, Anna (Kari Sylwan). As Agnes’ conditions worsens, eventually resulting in her excruciating death near the middle of the film, Marie and Karin engage in acidic arguments – about their withering sister, each other’s selfish motives, and their moral shortcomings – that end with half-hearted phony resolutions to become closer and more sensitive to one another. Throughout the claustrophobic psychodrama, which takes place almost entirely within the confines of the family’s 19th century mansion, Anna serves as a passive observer, selflessly dedicating herself to Agnes and complacently receiving Marie and Karin’s condescension – becoming Agnes’ replacement mother in a film otherwise bereft of empathy and love.

Richly photographed by longtime Bergman cinematographer Sven Nykvist (who would win the Best Cinematography Oscar for the film in 1973), the lush ruby colors of Cries and Whispers’ stunning sets and costumes are made overwhelming and shockingly vibrant – illustrating the importance of the film’s carefully crafted mise-en-scène when one is attempting to discern the film’s meaning and tone. Ravishing red hues can be found throughout the film, most noticeably in the interior design of the family’s mansion, which features bold scarlet walls and carpets, deep puce chairs and cushions, and crimson drapes, curtains, and bedding. The omnipresence of cardinal coloration pervades nearly every frame of Cries and Whispers.

Bergman explained his choice to emphasize red in the film by claiming that the film is “an exploration of the soul” and that he “imagined the soul to be a damp membrane in varying shades of red,” but the significance of the carmine colors extends past this generalized perspective once one realizes that Cries and Whispers is not about just anyone’s soul, but about the souls of four women – Agnes, Marie, Karin and Anna.

Throughout the film, men play a minimal role, popping up only to provide caustic critiques of Marie and Karin, as is the case with Marie’s occasional lover, David (Erland Josephson); Marie’s semi-suicidal husband, Joakim (Henning Moritzen); and Karin’s heartless and emotionally abusive husband, Fredrik (George Årlin). Barring its few moments of gender diversity, Cries and Whispers is solely about the interplay between its quartet of women – sisters, wives, mistresses, mothers, daughters, and rivals. In this miasma of femininity, Bergman’s enveloping reds come to suggest the motherly womb, the blood ties of family, the loss of virginity and innocence, and the stark rawness of passion (be it in love or hate).

Impressive sanguine tints haunt the women as they sleep in the blushed house (womb) of their mother; as they watch their sister writhe in pain under maroon blankets; as they spew vitriolic words at one another in front of sparse vermilion walls; as they reminisce about their long-dead mother reading her red-covered copy of Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers (1837); as Marie attempts to seduce David in her skimpy cerise lingerie; as Marie tends to her daughter, clad in a ruby dress; as Anna tenderly cradles Agnes’ corpse in a manner that echoes Michelangelo’s Pietà (1498-99) during a shot that is swallowed by an encroaching red fade; and as Karin slices her vagina with broken glass in a fit of melancholy desperation, eventually smearing the symbolically-menstrual blood onto her lips in one of the most disturbing scenes ever filmed.

Bergman’s women cannot escape the control that the swirling reds have over them, as the colors define most of the myriad aspects of their femininity. The editing of Cries and Whispers reinforces this, often fading into scenes from a red screen and allowing scenes to fade out through a collapse into bright rouge – including a series of intermittent straight-on close-ups of the women’s faces that inflame and burn out in rosy shades, populating the film with lyrical meditations on the links between the psyches (or souls) of Agnes, Marie, Karin, Anna. Nykvist’s mind-bogglingly pungent garnet-hued cinematography delves into the visually-represented core of womanhood that holds Cries and Whispers together. The women are encased in the red – locked within the reality of their femininity, which Bergman reveals to be both a gift and a burden in his fiercely challenging cinematic masterpiece.

by Brandon Colvin

***This article originally appeared in Rise Over Run Magazine.
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Short Films You Must See: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" Music Video

Before you turn away from Out 1 forever because of this selection, I have to admit that this video was brought to my attention from its appearance on J. Hoberman's Top 10 Films of the 1980s, placing just ahead of Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice. Don't mess...just watch and enjoy this essential, playful, and brilliant video from everyone's favorite decade of music.

***Note: due to the embedding requests, the video cannot be displayed on this page. However, the link is posted below.***


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Monday, April 21, 2008


I still haven’t made up my mind as to whether Jay Lee’s bizarre, hilarious, and mind-numbingly mind-numbing film, Zombie Strippers is beautifully subversive and John Waters-esque, or just simply bad (in which case, it’s realllllllly bad). A regular B-movie auteur, Lee wrote, directed, shot, and edited Zombie Strippers, a Jenna Jameson/Robert Englund vehicle that, true to its cast, blends gore, schlock, slapstick, porn and – existential/political commentary?(!) The film is (supposedly) an adaptation of Eugene Ionesco’s Absurdist play Rhinoceros (1959). Seriously, I challenge anyone to make up something more ridiculous: canonical existentialist drama = stripping zombie pornstars.

The back story of Zombie Strippers is about as ludicrous as it is unimportant: a pissy scientist crafts a zombie virus and spreads it around at a military facility in Sartre (Jean-Paul!), Nebraska (more on the existentialism connections later), eventually infecting a soldier who escapes before he becomes completely zombified and accidentally ends up in an illegal strip club owned by Ian Essko (Robert Englund) and featuring the breast-baring talents of Kat (Jenna Jameson), Lillith (Roxy Saint), Jeannie (Shamron Moore), and hometown girl, Jessy (Jennifer Holland), among others. What ensues is a necro-erotic parade of absurdity that culminates in a predictable film-ending anti-zombie raid by the Z-Squad, an elite group of undead-killing military folk – many of whom are inexplicably scantly clad.

Although the film contains some of the most intensely quotable and irresistibly laughable lines I have ever heard, including the greatest simile ever uttered, “That chick’s as cold as the dead flesh of a stripping zombie” and “They’re strippers! They’re zombies! They’re zombie strippers!” a great deal of (intentionally?) awkward references to philosophical issues and (get ready for it . . .) the Iraq War are scattered throughout Zombie Strippers – leaving me to wonder if Jay Lee is a master of sarcasm or if he has earnestly made a zombiedy with such a pretentious and maligned “intellectual” edge.

Regardless of the distinction between intent and accident when it comes to its straight-up hilarity (which may be useless to make), Zombie Strippers abounds with allusions to existentialist figures, beginning with the source material (Ionesco!), the name of the town (Sartre!), the name of the Z-Squad leader (Major Camus!), and the choice of reading material for Jenna Jameson’s character: you guessed it, some freakin’ Friedrich Nietzsche! While preparing to go onstage and wax her asscrack with a metal pole, Jameson’s Kat buries her nose
in a tome of Nietzsche’s greatest hits and spouts silly drivel about “the void” and the harshness of existence. Fittingly, once she becomes a decaying corpse, Kat claims that Nietzsche’s “stuff makes a lot more sense.” If for no other reason, Zombie Strippers is worth watching for its jarring attempts to inject high-falutin’ philosophical principles into the trashiest of trash cinema.

Even more head-scratchingly entertaining than its philosophical dabbling is the way Zombie Strippers toys with turning the strip club into a political allegory for the Iraq War, repeatedly having the buxom exotic dancers utter the phrase, “It’s a war out there,” in reference to the spotlight-drenched stage. At one point, Jessy (the hometown girl) declares “There’s a war happening out there and I can no longer close my eyes to it!” as the Z-Squad squelches the zombie attack (which is conveniently contained within the walls of the strip club). If Jay Lee and crew really are attempting to make some sort of anti-war statement, they go about it in one of the most nonsensical and half-hearted ways imaginable. Once again, either Lee is an absolute “r”-tard or a he is a backhanded genius who knows how to turn the concept of an ambitious boobs ‘n’ gore film against itself by lambasting the omnipresent insertion of Iraq-related political commentary into damn near every 1 out of 3 films that gets released (note: hyperbole).

Zombie Strippers’s absolute strangeness makes it nearly beyond good and evil; it’s a film in which taste becomes submissive to “Oh my God, they did not just do that!” One of the more (maybe) offensive aspects of the film is its outright racism against Mexicans/Mexican-Americans. The shat-upon strip club janitor, Paco (Joey Medina), is on the receiving end of quite a few racially-motivated tirades from Englund’s Ian. Undermining Ian Essko’s racist rhetoric and turning the bigotry on its ear is Paco’s WAY over the top stereotype-laden kamikaze death scene, which (seemingly) explodes many of the Mexican-American racial conventions: sombreros, mules, Pancho Villa, etc. It wouldn’t be unusual if a viewer found him/herself frowning and chuckling at the same time – which is true for most scenes in the film.

Complimenting the innumerable idiosyncrasies of Zombie Strippers is one of the most memorable and remarkably disgusting (yet hilarious) scenes ever filmed. I won’t reveal too much about the sequence but this should be enough to pique the reader’s interest: projectile ping-pong balls, projectile pool balls, Jenna Jameson’s zombified vagina, a stripping pole-cum-baseball bat, and rotting chesticles. Honestly, if this scene doesn’t accrue legendary status within the coming months, I will be shocked. I couldn’t even breathe in the theatre. I almost fell over... dead from laughter! (That’s my B-criticism version of a snappy concluding line.)

by Brandon Colvin
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Blindness Trailer

Is it just me, or does it just feel like Blindness will be this year's Children of Men? And I mean that in a very good way... Not the best trailer ever, but captivating nonetheless. This is certainly one of the most anticipated films of the year for me.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Give Us Today Our Daily Terror

Here is a link well worth checking out. Artist Martijn Hendriks has photos and video excerpts from his new work Give Us Today Our Daily Terror, a version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, except that all the birds have been removed. Well worth checking out.


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Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Got Sails

Deceptively brisk and light on its feet, Jellyfish, winner of the Camera d’Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, is an ultra ambitious film from first time directors Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen that does all it can to keep its most resonant elements below its broad surface. Sweeping through an ensemble of Tel Aviv women, Jellyfish clocks in at a slender 78 minutes. Although it expands its elements and reveals an effective and incredibly moving conclusion, there is not enough time invested in the bulk of the characters to provide the full fledged whallop it could have had. Jellyfish is a good film that modestly stretches for greatness and does not quite get there. Nevertheless, it is a casually inventive melodrama that is sure to be admired, and rightfully so. Even with its seemingly slight veneer, Jellyfish masks its deepest revelations, and reveals them with affirmed precision. These first time directors are talents to be watched in the coming years. Jellyfish is a work that should be seen for its quiet elegance, extreme ambition, and youthful voice. Despite its problems, Jellyfish is dazzling.

A newlywed bride breaks her foot climbing out of a toilet stall, while a waitress, Batya, struggles to keep her life together having just abandoned her longtime boyfriend. At the same time a Filipino woman, who speaks almost no Hebrew, watches over some disgruntled old women, who each have familial issues of their own. The interweaving story structure, so prevalent in many popular films today, may be getting a bit tired, but Jellyfish almost always feels fresh. Besides the lively use of color, each story has a gleeful tone that helps the film bounce through its more cliched scenes. It is this tone that carries Jellyfish and sets up the emotional attachment in the characters that is required for its ending to succeed. With such a brief running time, Jellyfish mystically enraptures the viewer without trying to hard. The film is so finely tuned and well executed that its power seems surprising.

From the young girl who magically appears to Batya on the beach (before quickly disappearing again) to the avant-garde production of Hamlet that bridges a gap in communication while still testing several relationships, Jellyfish keeps it comedic face on, and reveals its emotions with such grace that its emotional excesses achieve great impact. Deeply rooted in its characters, there may not be a lot of grandeur in what Jellyfish tries to do, but it is somehow extremely grand in how its ambitious storytelling ambition comes across as so simple. If there is such a thing as ambitious simplicity, Jellyfish, in my view, is a great example.

Still, while there is clearly plenty of substance revolving underneath the surface of the film, Jellyfish, at the end, does not seem fully realized. This may be rooted in some weaker performances that are overwhelmed by a fascinatingly transfixed performance by Sarah Adler as Batya, or it could just be that the plot’s revelation come tumbling out a little too quickly. It is hard to explain how and why a film just does not feel complete, but that is the case for Jellyfish. The film completes is narrative, and there is nothing else to ask for in terms of plot points, but Jellyfish needs some more depth behind each segment of the story. For a film so concerned with its characters and story, it seems odd that it does not give full weight to each of its infinitely interesting characters. Though a general “less is more” attitude seems applicable, Jellyfish does not have quite enough to have a full payoff.

Based on the novel by co-director and writer Keret, Jellyfish reveals itself slowly over its short running time, much like a novel. Although Jellyfish feels rushed given its large story scope and aesthetic ambitions, it is impossible to say that the film does not work. Jellyfish has its problems, but its enormous successes are able to trump any minor failures it has. From the radiant blue background in the first shot onward, Jellyfish is as distinct and assured a piece of filmmaking as you will see this year. It is these elements that help overcome some of the film’s weaker sections, and make Jellyfish so radiant and full of life. The ship that is the film Jellyfish has its sails, knows where it is going, and gets there. Who can ask for anything more?

by James Hansen
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Unforgetting an Unforgotten VHS!

Some exciting news to report for you Bresson fans, and those who have followed our Forgotten VHS Series. A film that Brandon wrote about earlier in the series, The Devil, Probably is being released on DVD. Although it isn't Region 1, it should be widely available as a Region 2 DVD and is an exciting bit of DVD news. Lesson to learn here: buy a region free DVD player immediately and start taking advantage of the whole world of DVDs.

Here's a link of where to buy The Devil, Probably. The site (Movie Mail) is one of my favorite DVD sites. Basically has all the Region 2 DVDs you could ask for at very reasonable prices.

Enjoy your weekend of movies!


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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Forgotten VHS #9- Rosselini's "Paisan"

My introduction to Roberto Rossellini’s Neo-Realist masterwork, Paisan (1946) came in Martin Scorsese’s My Voyage to Italy (1999). Scorsese’s always-infectious passion for cinema is nowhere more evident and intimate than in his detailed analysis of Rosselini’s film, spurring to seek it out. Thankfully, TCM came to the rescue when John Sayles guest programmed it. Paisan is a formally unique film, comprised of six vignettes taking place in six different Italian areas (Sicily, Naples, Rome, Florence, the Appenine Range, and Porte Tolle) in the wake of World War II. The complex moral episodes present the realities of a post-war Italian identity and how this native identity interacts with international influences and how the Italian psyche handles its newfound desperation. Featuring the balanced writing team of Rossellini, Federico Fellini, and Sergio Amidei, among others (Italian team writing!), Paisan is by turns sentimental, violent, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

Being the only Rossellini film I’ve seen, I’m not quite able to place it in his body of work, but going on secondary sources regarding Rosselini’s work, it seems Paisan is an especially haunting film in Rossellini’s canon. One stand-out scene involves a dead partisan begin floated down the Po River with a sign attached to him that marks him as a “traitor.” The scene exemplifies the harsh beauty of Rossellini’s Neo-Realist universe and is the crowning moment of Paisan. Currently, multiple VHS copies of Paisan are available on the Amazon Marketplace for under $8 – a deal if I’ve ever seen one.

by Brandon Colvin
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Return of the Red Balloon

Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon (2007) is a wonderful homage to the classic French children’s film Le Ballon Rouge (Albert Lamorisse, 1956), and perhaps also to film critic André Bazin, who analyzed and investigated the film thoroughly in his essay “The Virtues and Limitations of Montage”, celebrating it for its serene editing and absence of what he considered mere film tricks. And while Hou makes a bow to both Lamorisse and Bazin, it is anything but a kowtow, as he breaks loose from his influences and transfers the story and technique of Le Ballon Rouge into another world and another Paris, where aesthetic delicacy and suggestiveness gets to play the main parts.

As in Le Ballon Rouge, Flight of the Red Balloon explores the symbolic “friendship” that evolves between a small boy, Simon (Simon Iteanu), and a red balloon that tags along and seems to watch over him in the streets of Paris. The Paris Simon lives in, is not so much a world of innocence and adventure as in Le Ballon Rouge. Instead, Simon finds himself trapped in the hectic world of more or less neglecting adults, with his mother Suzanne (Juliette Binoche) a struggling puppet master who is trying to do a thousand things at once, the unruly downstairs neighbors, his absent father and sister, and his new Chinese nanny and film student, Song (Song Fang).

Song starts making a film about Simon and a red balloon, and this is the event that ties together the film of Lamorisse, the pretext for Flight of the Red Balloon, with the text of Hou’s film, via the meta-film that Song and Simon are making, and together they constitute a bundle of balloons which takes on different meanings or non-meanings in their various contexts. In Flight of the Red Balloon, the balloon, which most often pops up in Song’s film, but sometimes ambiguously independent of her filming, is like an element from a magic realism novel, a prosopopoeial element that can be taken to signify everything Simon wants and needs but doesn’t have enough of, everything his mother doesn’t have the capacity to give him at this moment in her life. This magical and mystical element of the film is intriguingly combined by Hou with a quotidian realism that dominates most of the film, as the narrative plays out in the streets of Paris and Suzanne’s apartment, where Song and Simon makes crêpes, plays video games, takes naps, only to be interrupted by Suzanne and her fits of anger and despair. Suzanne is a ticking bomb that goes off all the time, greatly contrasted with the calm Song and the shy Simon. As always, Juliette Binoche’s acting performance is fantastic, and her Suzanne is always interesting and complex in all of her irrationality, earnestness and incapacity of hiding her feelings, perfectly balanced against Song and Simon’s mysterious quietude.

The dialogue in the film is for the most part improvised, and for French speakers, this can be an element of irritation, as flatness and repetition and a lack of words makes the film a bit flawed. Especially Song’s vocabulary is monotone, and even if she is an exchange student in a foreign country, her performance seems a bit static as she basically repeats the same sentences over and over. Binoche of course has a greater repertory, and is carrying an enormous burden in that she is the only character in the film that actually speaks more than a few sentences, in fact she talks almost non-stop, making her performance even more impressive, even if her frustration in her search for words becomes evident every now and then.

If Hou follows Bazin’s recipe in his cinematographic language, he rebels against it through the character of Song and the film she is making about the red balloon, as Song reveals in a conversation with Simon that they are going to “edit out” the green guy who holds the balloon, in post-production, so that the balloon will seem as if it has a will and life on its own. Bazin would probably not have appreciated such an approach to filmmaking, as one of the elements he so valued with Le Ballon Rouge was that it didn’t pull any cinematic tricks on its audience. And even if Hou has Song discuss this opportunity in the film, he stays close to a very pure cinematic language himself, with many long takes and a camera that follows his characters around in a room or the streets, not relying on what Bazin might have considered manipulative editing.

What makes Flight of the Red Balloon such a good film is its mélange of symbolism and realism, as the two elements are in constant contrast and dialogue. In the film’s final scene, the two elements are finally and gracefully brought together at the Musée D’Orsay, where Simon together with his classmates makes an effort to understand a painting by Félix Vallotton, Le Ballon, and where the meaning of the red balloon of Hou’s film is hinted at, but still left largely unanswered for the audience to ponder upon.

by Maria Fosheim Lund
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Jacques Rivette Poll Results

Hello all.

It appears that we are still having some issues with the site, which can only be traced back to Blogspot since I have not changed the template, html, or anything since the problems began. Hopefully everything will work itself out and everything will be back on track soon. I am also have issues having the "continue reading" labels appear below some of our longer posts, but, as you all know, if you click on the titles the entire articles will appear.

I think out hiatus has hurt our readership a little, as the results from our Jacques Rivette poll were much lower than I would like. If you are a new reader, thank you for coming! Please make us a regular stop on your internet reading! If you are an older regular reader, we appreciate your continued support. Please do all you can to get word back to people we have lost that Out 1 is back in full swing with some of the best full reviews you can find anywhere on the "blogosphere."

And now...onto the results!

0............................................12 (48 %)
1-2 ........................................ 4 (16 %)
3-4........................................ 2 (8 %)
5-6 ....................................... 3 (12 %)
7-8......................................... 3 (12%)
9-10....................................... 1 (4%)

The moral of this poll...everyone who visits the site should vote in the polls, and go see more Rivette films!
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Work and Play in Fellini's "8 1/2"

Right out of the gate, Federico Fellini’s cinematic milestone, 8 ½ (1963), displays its surreal, tragicomic analysis of the dichotomy between responsibility and escapism – work and play – with iconic imagery and endless imagination. In the film’s famous opening scene, artistically frustrated and creatively drained film director Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) sits in his car, locked in a traffic jam – inside of a dream. As Guido grows increasingly claustrophobic and as his breathing becomes heavier, he notices that he is being watched. Becoming frantic, Guido climbs out of his car’s window and stands on the roof. Spreading his arms to catch the wind, Guido begins to fly. While soaring through the sky, Guido notices a string is attached to his ankle, triggering his realization that he is being used as a kite by some condescending fellows on horseback, who are gallivanting on a beach. Guido’s tormentors then tug his string, causing him to crash into the ocean, resulting in his awakening from his fantasy, as he lies in bed, thrusting his outstretched hand into the air, full of desperation

In the dream sequence, the extent to which the pressure and strain of Guido’s job invade his life is expressed succinctly and clearly. Even in Guido’s fantasies – his supposed moments of liberation – he cannot escape the constricting demands of his overseers. Guido seeks freedom from the confines of his smothering work (his car) and when he is able to fly away, to experience the joy of escape and play, he is only made to realize that he is still the object of someone else’s playtime: he is a kite that forgets he is a slave to the whims of his controller. Guido’s recreation can never reach its idealized potential; the bonds of employment pull him down, sinking him in an abyss of drudgery and stress. As 8 ½’s narrative progresses, Guido continually slips into extravagant reveries, each combining humor and melancholy, during his charmingly destructive attempt to complete his current film amidst the chaos of his dissolving marriage, strained friendships, inconsolable sexual appetite, and Catholic guilt. Guido’s fantasies are always given dark, unusual facets, while upholding an unsentimental nostalgia for innocence and idealism – as in his imaginings of the perfect woman, Claudia (Claudia Cardinale), his visualized wish for an obnoxious critic/script doctor to hang himself, and, most notably, his hallucinatory harem of all of the women in his life, in which he dictatorially designates to them their places and responsibilities. During his fantasies, Guido adopts the role of the employer, doling out responsibilities and attaining the freedom that allows him to truly be at play; his desires do not illustrate a sympathetic portrait of the “working man,” but rather the cynical structure of power that even the subjugated and shat-on wish to sit on top of.
Making Guido’s situation even more ironic is the fact that he bosses so many others around, considering he is a film director, but can’t stand to be pushed around by anyone else. Guido’s attitude exemplifies a realistic and surprisingly endearing megalomania, which Fellini describes using an incredibly personal and honest script, milking Marcello Mastroianni’s irresistible warmth and intelligent masculinity. Guido’s ambitions to autonomy and power set-up a difficult problem – hinging on his lofty expectations – without an easy solution. In fact, the film’s solution to Guido’s struggle for freedom and recreation is perhaps one of the most thought provoking and ambiguous in film history.

As Guido’s film spirals out of control into a state of universal ridicule and artistic mire, the troubled director’s options seem limited and dismal. Failure looming, Guido caves in, deciding to crawl underneath a table during a hectic press conference for his film and shoot himself. Or does he? The film’s repeated fluid transitions between reality and fantasy make the scene hard to pin down as being Guido’s true fate or an imagined extension of his anxiety. What follows Guido’s “suicide” is the film’s ultimate dream (or afterlife) sequence, in which Guido plays a sort of ringleader, organizing basically every character in the film into a huge dancing line, full of cheer and gusto.

Tellingly, the carnivalesque finale is sparked by post-suicide Guido’s sight of his younger self as a marching flautist with a band of clown musicians. Guido can only attain control over his life and can only reach a state of contentment after witnessing himself as a playful child – forgetting the weariness of the world, his work, his romantic entanglements, and his guilt, by losing himself in the celebratory tunes created by his happier self. Following the raucous dancing extravaganza that ensues, the young Guido is left alone, marching in a circus ring; his fellow musicians gone and all of the lights out, except for one spotlight which follows the chipper boy as he marches off screen in the film’s last shot. Is Guido’s youthful incarnation victorious, marching to freedom beyond the limits of the screen and the pressures of work and responsibility, or are the fading lights intended to notify the audience of the fantasy’s inevitable end? Fellini doesn’t answer so that the audience must define the situation for itself. Work or play?

by Brandon Colvin

This article originally appeared in Rise Over Run Magazine.***

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