“In our town, the puffballs and spring arrive hand in hand. These are the sort of puffballs that drift around, soaring over the cemetery, where all rest in peace, soaring over the beachfront and over the Germans, newly arrived, who don’t feel the cold. Drifting, drifting… swirling… swirling… swirling… Drifting, drifting, drifting.”
Federico Fellini’s ‘Amarcord’, made in 1973, is as riotous and visually stunning as his earlier ‘8 ½’ and ‘Fellini Satyricon’ but much more grounded. It follows a year in the life of a small town during the 1930s starting and ending with spring and charts the misadventures of the eccentric inhabitants: teachers, prostitutes, builders, teenagers. Fellini manages to depict the almost pagan rituals of life, sex and death but in a joyous and colourful way, one the directly connects the environment and the weather to what is happening in the lives of his characters. Highlights include a scene in which a love stuck teenager, Titta, pursues a lady through a maze of snow banks, reminiscent of the labyrinth scene in ‘Fellini Satyricon’, the use of snow, mist, sun and floating puffballs both to create atmosphere and to inspire the movement of the different stories. It’s magical and, like many of the best movies, dreamlike, balancing a farcical lightless with a deep and profound meditation on nostalgia and the cycle of life.
Would I recommend it? Of course – preferably as counterpoint to a darker movie. Maybe watch this in a double bill with Tarkovsky’s ‘Nostalghia’, both are concerned with similar themes, both use weather and atmosphere to give an extra dimension, but both are polar opposites in tone.