Tuesday, October 20, 2009
"Fellini: I am a Born Liar"
The interview with Fellini was augmented by interviews with Donald Sutherland and Terrance Stamp, two of the most interesting and talented actors in the last 60 years. Neither actor seemed to like working with Fellini very much. They both found him to be overbearing in some instances and too uninvolved in others. Fellini, in contrast, thought that he was very tuned into actors and that he liked them very much. The one actor with whom he had a long-term professional relationship was not interviewed, i.e., Marcello Mastroianni. From others interviewed it seems that Mastroianni was able to not personalize Fellini’s direction and he often simply walked away. Nevertheless his acting style was probably more to Fellini’s natural rhythm that Sutherland’s and Stamp’s.
After Fellini sought treatment for depression from a psychoanalyst, his movies became more informed by Freudian theory. His movies were never just about storytelling. They were not simply a presentation of his perception of a story. Rather they were about his interpretation of the story through the lens of his understanding of his psychological makeup. In that way, Fellini’s movies were self-indulgent and sometimes full of images that were strange and unapproachable. Fellini used actors who were often grotesquely overweight with big hair and who were scantily clad. He used little people, old people, and disabled people to populate his cities and towns. He used these characters not because he was particularly interested in them, but because they reflected his psyche. They were representative of his fears, conflicts, and neuroses. Through his approach, Fellini invited us into his psychoanalysis but we often did not know what he was showing us.
“Fellini: I am a Born Liar” informed me about Fellini’s art. I am less convinced that his work is as great as I once thought, but hearing (or reading) him discuss his films was interesting and provided insights into Fellini’s filmmaking approach. There are scores of movies by others that are indebted to Fellini’s technique of using the director's psychological constructs to tell a story.