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"Amarcord" (meaning "I remember") is a semi-autobiographical reminiscence of Federico Fellini's youth growing up in a small town in 1930s Fascist Italy, centring around a young boy named Titta, played by Bruno Zanin, and taking place in the span of a year of his experiences of growing up in this environment. As such, the film doesn't really have a plot to speak of, rather than focusing on "moments in time" for this village's quaint life, employing comedy to mock the existing establishment of its day through the eccentric inhabitants of the town caught in an adolescent state of unresponsiveness and acceptance to the rule of a morally questionable government. Using the existing social establishments of school and church as emblematic of the regime's debilitating effects, while picking fun of the ridiculous posturing of Mussolini's fascist order via highlighting the villagers' incapability to accept moral responsibility and their inability to grow out of their silly sexual fantasies, making the director's contemptuous stance against the existing status quo all the more obvious.
However, within this more weighty subtext, there is also a wonderfully delightful feeling to the whole film's slice-of-life setting, giving this movie much more of a poetic and quirky style of fantasy where characters can at times stop and break the barrier between them and us by addressing the camera head on, or have them engage in moments of pure nostalgic revelry (engaging in a traditional bonfire celebration to welcome spring), dreamlike surrealism (waltzing without partners in hauntingly enveloping fog), abject ridiculousness (trying to talk a crazy uncle down from a tree while he pelts them with rocks), and stumbling sexual excursions (Titta getting suffocated by the buxom tobacconist's breasts following a prideful boast). Featuring wonderful photography from Giuseppe Rotunno and a host of colourful characters, Fellini doesn't even try to make the movie seem ultra-realistic as a historical reminiscence, rather than make it feel like a fanciful portrait shone through the tinted glasses of an era that had its darker sides, but which also featured its charming diversions within this provincial simplicity that ultimately would not be sustainable when the fantasy would shatter by the future's harsh realities. Winner of the Foreign-Language Film Oscar of 1973, this is amongst the very best films Fellini ever made and shows a masterful sense of time and place of a small community's existence in those turbulent times before the dream was to truly and finally come to an end. (c) berlioz 2014