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ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Il Poeta : Federico Fellini.

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Presentation on theme: "ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Il Poeta : Federico Fellini."— Presentation transcript:

1 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Il Poeta : Federico Fellini

2 8 1/2 (1963) “Down, definitely down! Fellini’s Movies ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

3 Amarcord (1974) Fellini’s Movies ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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5 Fellini Receives an Honorary Oscar ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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7 “the suspicion--the extreme test of his topicality, the total congruence of the director and his time--that Fellini, a man who has exhausted himself and his life in images, doesn't exist.” --Liliana Betti on Federico Fellin i ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

8 “When you work with Federico you only learn to discover that there’s nothing to discover.”—Lina Wertmuller, assistant director on 8 ½ and director of Seven Beauties, Swept Away, Which Way is Up? ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

9 “A flight of fantasy, whether in dreams or daydreams, is no mere sleight of mind. But only children will accept it as being equally as profound as the arbitrary awareness we are taught to regard as reality, and hence, only they are nurtured by it. Later, of course, many of us comprehend our self- imposed poverty and try to double back, but the bread crumbs are always missing and our failures are immense. A true belief in the validity of non- ordinary reality-with all that it can teach us-seems beyond the capabilities of every practicing adult, with the possible exception of Federico Fellini.” ---Garry Trudeau ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

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21 Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

22 Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

23 Fellini himself once even proclaimed the need for a “cine-mendacity” to replace “cinema-verite” because “a lie is always more interesting than the truth” (Playboy 58). Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque ci·ne·ma ve·ri·té noun \ˈsi-nə-mə-ˌver-i-ˈtā; si-nā-ˈmä-ve-rē-ˈtā\ : the art or technique of filming a motion picture so as to convey candid realism

24 “Federico only blushes when he tells the truth.” —Giuletta Masina (Fellini’s wife) Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

25 David Thomson, to cite an extreme example, has ruthlessly assaulted Fellini (in his Biographical Dictionary of Film) as an "obsessional vacuous poseur... a half-baked, play-acting pessimist, with no capacity for tragedy," whose films are a "doodling in chaos." Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

26 “Fellini is not honest, he is not dishonest, he is just Fellini.... he has no limits; he's just like quicksilver--all over the place. I have never seen anybody like that before.... He is enormously intuitive; he is creative; he is an enormous force. He is burning inside with such heat. Collapsing.... The heat from his creative mind, it melts him.... He is rich.” —Ingmar Bergman (Simon 221-22) Cine-Mendacity ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

27 Fellini the Autobiographer ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

28 “My work can't be anything other than a testimony of what I am looking for in life. It is a mirror of my searching... for myself freed. In this respect, I think, there is no cleavage or difference of content or style in all my films. From first to last, I have struggled to free myself from the past, from the education laid upon me as a child” ("Interview," Playboy 58). Fellini the Autobiographer ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

29 "If I set out to make a movie about a fillet of sole, it would turn out to be about me" (Costello 36). Fellini the Autobiographer ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

30 “The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography” (Walter 36). --Federico Fellini Fellini the Autobiographer ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

31 “At bottom, I am always making the same film. I am telling the story of characters in search of themselves, in search of a more authentic source of life, of conduct, of behavior, that will more closely relate to the true roots of their individuality” (Kast 182-83). Fellini the Autobiographer ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

32 Fellini’s Creative-Life Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

33 For the "real," he has explained, is not what we assume it to be; “it is neither an enclosure nor a panorama that has just a single surface. A landscape, for example, has several textures, and the deepest, the one that can be revealed only by poetry, is no less real. It is said that what I wish to show behind the epiderm of things and people is the unreal. It is called my taste for the mysterious. I shall readily accept this description if you will use a capital "M." For me the mysterious is man, the long irrational lines of his spiritual life, love, salvation.... For me, the key to the mystery--which is to say, God--is to be found at the center of the successive layers of reality...” (Murray 35). Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

34 “For me the only real artist is the visionary because he bears witness to his own reality. A visionary--Van Gogh, for instance--is a profound realist. That wheat field with the black sun is his; only he saw it. There can't be greater realism” (Samuels 226). Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

35 Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

36 “[Fellini] creates the way he sees" (Hughes 157). --Dadaist/Surrealist Hans Richter Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

37 “My films happen because I sign a contract. I get an advance I don’t want to repay so I have to make the film. I’ll say it again; you may think I’m being facetitious, but it’s absolutely true. I don’t believe in total creative freedom. A creator, if he is given total creative freedom, would tend, I think, to do nothing at all. The greatest danger for an artist is total freedom, to be able to wait for inspiration, that whole romantic discourse. Psychologically, the artist is an offender. He has a childish need to offend, and to be able to offend, you need parents, a headmaster, a high priest, the police.... I need opposition, someone who annoys me, someone who opposes me, to work up the energy that I need to fight for what I’m doing. I need an enemy.” Federico Fellini in Damian Pettigrew’s documentary Fellini: I’m a Born Liar Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

38 “One day I met an angel who stretched out his hand to me. I followed him, but after a short time I left him and went back. He stopped and waited at the same place for me. I see him again in difficult moments and he says to me, ‘Wait, wait,’ just as I do to everyone. I am afraid that when I call him one day, I shall not find him. It is the angel who has always awakened me from my spiritual torpor. When I was a boy, he was the incarnation of an imaginary world, and then he became the symbol of a vital moral need” (quoted in Murray 75). Fellini’s Creative Life ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

39 Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

40 Fellini-Grotesque When infamous critic Leslie Fiedler turns to the subject of the grotesque in his Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self, it is, of course, Fellini he thinks of. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

41 “Fellini is the patron saint of the freaks of Rome.” --Theologian Harvey Cox Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

42 Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

43 Fellini-Grotesque “For the hard of hearing you shout, for the blind you draw large and startling figures.”—Flannery O’Connor on the reason behind her use of the grotesque. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

44 The "grotesque" body depicted in pre-Renaissance art in general and Gargantua and Pantagruel in particular is one which, according to Bakhtin, unashamedly "fecundates and is fecundated, that gives birth and is born, devours and is devoured, drinks, defecates, is sick and dying.” Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

45 According to Bakhtin, the bodily canon seeks to: 1. close all orifices; 2. stop all mergers of the body with the external world; 3. hide all signs of inner life processes and bodily functions (hence, for example, prohibitions against farting or belching in public); 4. ignore all evidence of fecundation and pregnancy; 5. eliminate protrusions; 6. present an image of a completed, rational, individual body. Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

46 Fellini-Grotesque On the way into the seminar room to defend my doctoral dissertation, a skeptical member of my committee, with whom I had previously talked about doing a dissertation on Native American literature, sarcastically asked how my impossibly interdisciplinary diss had managed to avoid any comparisons between Fellini and Native American culture. "Now that you mention it," I responded, pulling out of my backpack a book I had just checked out from the library... ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

47 Fellini-Grotesque Jamake Highwater's Ritual of the Wind: North American Indian Ceremonies, Music, and Dances. I showed him a passage in which Highwater, considering the “contrariness” of American Indian sacred clowns, known for their scatological and obscene parodies of tribal holy men, naturally thinks of Fellini when he seeks to explain the revulsion missionaries experienced confronting the clowns’ behavior: ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

48 Fellini-Grotesque “The shock techniques of Dadaism and the late films of Federico Fellini, have a great deal in common with the contrariness of sacred clowns, especially those of the Southwest.” ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

49 “When I introduce rather odd characters into my films, people say I’m exaggerating, that I’m “doing a Fellini.” But it’s just the opposite; in comparison with what happens to me all the time, I feel I’m softening things, moderating reality to a remarkable degree” (Strich 52). Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

50 “[The ideal] imposes impossible standards and unattainable aspirations that can only impede the spontaneous growth of a normal human being, and may conceivably destroy him. You must have experienced this yourself. There arrives a moment in life when you discover that what you've been told at home, at school, or in church is simply not true. You discover that it binds your authentic self, your instinct, your true growth. And this opens up a schism, creates a conflict that must eventually be resolved or succumbed to. In all forms of neurosis there is this clash between certain forms of idealization in a moral sense and a contrary aesthetic form. “—Federico Fellini, Playboy Interview Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

51 “For me there’s no difference between a scent and a stink. Perhaps if we’d been taught that a stink is nice and scent nasty, the world would see things in a different light. God knows why there’s all this fuss about a bit of shit! It’s a human product, just as much as our thoughts are!”-- Eau de Cologne in Amarcord: Portrait of a Town (36) Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

52 Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

53 In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Marco Polo regales Kublai Khan with the story--one of five in the book designated as tales of “Cities & the Sky”--of Perinthia, a metropolis which, from its very inception, had been intended as a utopia, its ordering cosmologically inspired. In Perinthia, we learn, all aspects of the city are laid out according to the highest wisdom of astrology and astronomy. Buildings, for example, are cited in such a way as to receive “the proper influence of the favoring constellations.” The astronomers who oversaw Perinthia’s development from the ground up guaranteed the city that it would, without question, “reflect the harmony of the firmament.” Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

54 Reality, of course, turns out to be anything but ideal. For, Marco Polo informs us, In Perinthia’s streets and squares today you encounter cripples, dwarfs, hunchbacks, obese men, bearded women. But the worse cannot be seen: guttural howls are heard from cellars and lofts, where families hide children with three heads or six legs. (144) Such grotesques bring the astronomer/architects of Perinthea to an intellectual impasse, one that crops up all through Calvino’s splendid fictions/thought experiments: Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

55 Either they must admit that all their calculations were wrong and their figures are unable to describe the heavens, or else they must reveal that the order of the gods is reflected exactly in the city of monsters. (145) In the grotesque cinematic world of Federico Fellini--Calvino’s contemporary, countryman, and close friend--clearly the second alternative seems the only viable one, and yet Fellini does not embrace it out of deductive necessity. Filmed on location in Perinthia, his movies celebrate the revelation that “the order of gods is reflected exactly in the city of monsters.” They bring us “news from Africa.” Fellini-Grotesque ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

56 Variety Lights (1950) The White Sheik (1951) I Vitelloni (1953) Love in the City (1953) La Strada (1954) Il Bidone (1955) The Nights of Cabiria (1957) La Dolce Vita (1960) 8 1/2 (1963) Juliet of the Spirits (1965) Spirits of the Dead (1969) Fellini-Satyricon (1969) The Clowns (1971) Fellini's Roma (1972) Amarcord (1974) Fellini's Casanova (1976) Orchestra Rehearsal (1979) City of Women (1980) And the Ship Sails On (1984) Ginger and Fred (1986) Intervista (1987) The Voice of the Moon (1989) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

57 The Jungian psychologist James Hillman has suggested that artists be thought of as obsessional neurotics--like Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, perpetually washing and washing her hands—”Out, out damn spot”—fixated on a particular sign or symbol. Or, they are like the veteran who has lost a limb in battle and returns again and again to the scene of his loss. The artist obsesses over a decisive moment or theme or symbol, following a repetition compulsion until he or she gets it right— finds a way to make sense of it via story or image. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

58 Variety Lights (1950) 1 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

59 The White Sheik (1951) 2 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

60 I Vitelloni (1953) 3 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

61 Amore in città ( Love in the City ) (1953)— contributed “Un'agenzia matrimoniale” ("A Marriage Agency”) 3.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

62 La Strada (1954) 4.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini: Ending in Despair La Strada (1954) Watch on YouTube

63 Il Bidone (1955) 5.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini: Ending in Despair Il Bidone (1955) Watch on YouTube

64 The Nights of Cabiria (1957) 6.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini: Ending in Despair Le Notti di Cabiria (1957) Watch on YouTube

65 La Dolce Vita (1960) 7.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

66 “The death of cinema as a public spectacle”—Richard Schickel 8.5 ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque 8 1/2 (1963) The Opening Sequence of 8 1/2 (1963) Watch on YouTube

67 Juliet of the Spirits (1965) Fellini’s First Color Film The Final Sequence of Juliet of the Spirits (1965) Watch on YouTube ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

68 Fellini-Satyricon (1969) “You should take your friends to see Satyricon to see if they are in fact your friends.”—Federico Fellini ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

69 Spirits of the Dead (1969)—contributed “Toby Dammit” ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

70 The Clowns (1971) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

71 White Clown: overbearing, pompous, rational, bossy, a moralistic Auguste Clown: impetuous, emotion-driven, a screw-up, a sinner ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory

72 Sigmund FreudC. G. Jung ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory

73 Adolf HitlerBenito Mussolini ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory

74 Oliver Hardy (right)Stan Laurel (left) Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

75 Dick Cheney George W. Bush Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

76 Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory White (l)/Auguste (r) Fellini’s Two Clowns Theory White (l)/Auguste (r) Bud Abbott—Lou Costello Moe—Curly (from the Three Stooges) Dan Rowan—Dick Martin Dick Smothers—Tom Smothers Dean Martin —Jerry Lewis Johnny Carson—Ed McMahon Ricky Ricardo—Lucy Ricardo Gracie Burns—George Burns Jerry Seinfeld—George Costanza Ren—Stimpy Marge Simpson—Homer Simpson Hillary Clinton—Bill Clinton Left Brain—Right Brain Stephen Colbert—Jon Stewart Obama—Biden ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

77 Fellini's Roma (1972) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

78 Amarcord (1974) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

79 Though there's many a charming town And the world abounds with beauty. At evening when the sun goes down And finds you in some far-off place Sitting at a stranger's hearth, The Borgo [Rimini] in your heart will seem The loveliest place on earth. Oh, how will you will live, so far from home? (Amarcord 141) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

80 Fellini's Casanova (1976) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

81 Orchestra Rehearsal (1979) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

82 City of Women (1980) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

83 About the time I completed my doctoral dissertation To Discover That There’s Nothing to Discover: Imagination, the “Open,” and the Movies of Federico Fellini in the summer of 1978, I wrote Fellini to inquire whether I might visit him in Rome and, perhaps, interview him. (My wife of six months worked for Delta Airlines and we could fly to Italy for next to nothing.) Fellini responded—a scan of the letter is on the next slide--and invited me to the set of City of Women (1980), but he would not, alas, have time for an interview. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

84 Fellini’s Movies ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

85 I gave Fellini a copy of this poem on the set of City of Women in November 1979 at Cinecitta Studios in Rome. I also gave him a copy of The Doonesbury Chronicles. He took out his glasses there on the set, read the poem, and then touched me on the cheek in a classic Italian gesture of gratitude. _______________________________________________ FELLINIESQUE Consummation of the poet then the passage winds describe to breadcrumbs in his iris, ambit of quicksilver re-memberings, the center-ring agreements, inventions of the sesame (Ass Nisi Masa)— "where the eyes move" in amarcord's serenade ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

86 "true friends" guide, dawns of angelic exercise, the tour of la strada, vouching "Buena sera!"— the mother's pedagogy, like a peacock's benediction Auguste reconnoiterings, grotesque sagas of confessed misogyny, prodigal from wrapping sheets and afraid of being happy, ascend trees wanting woman— her glance of shy epiphany ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque "there the treasures are" little hands of spring in seminars of weather the photogenic seasons Nothing to say 6/25/78

87 On the set that day we met Giulietta Masina, Fellini’s wife (to our greeting she replied, in perfect English, “I am so sorry. I don’t speak English”). On the way to be seated before filming commenced, Joyce bumped into someone. When we turned to look back we saw that it was Marcello Mastroianni. ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

88 Giulietta Masina Fellini’s Movies ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

89 Marcello Mastroianni ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

90 And the Ship Sails On (1984) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

91 Ginger and Fred (1986) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

92 Intervista (1987) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque

93 The Voice of the Moon (1989) ENGL 2020 Themes in Literature and Culture: The Grotesque


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