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Fellinis Satyricon (DVD)

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  • Visually opulent
  • Often tasteless and incomprehensible
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      15.05.2014 08:16
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      • "Visually opulent"

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      • "Often tasteless and incomprehensible"

      Debauchery in ancient Rome according to Petronius

      Extravagantly staged by Danilo Donati and sumptuously shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, this free adaptation of Petronius' satirical writings (though existing today only in fragments) is alternately considered a visionary masterpiece or the beginnings of a decline for a great artist. And certainly this vulgar, talky, diffuse, and at times even disgusting movie, charged with a deep streak of homoeroticism, is easily one of the most divisive of Federico Fellini's films. Following a young student named Encolpio (Martin Potter) and his friend Ascilto (Hiram Keller) as they experience orgies, poetry readings, slavery, religious rites, plays, and fornicating with one another, as well as with other boys, men, and women, Fellini certainly has tapped into the heart of the decrepit, immoral, alienated, and rancid core of ancient Rome with incisive satire paralleling his own present day Rome. This is only further emphasised with the almost dreamlike and caressing camerawork capturing the faces of the almost phantasmic people roaming all over this world's fleshy and overripe social scene where hedonism and decadence are the ruling principles to live by. However, it's the storytelling that ultimately lets the film down as it habitually jumps from one scene and place to another, sometimes with no real transition or logic (though this may be due to the fragmentary nature of the existing source material), and finally just loses whatever point it was trying to make. Therefore the whole movie leaves off as a visually interesting, but fairly pointless exercise in debauchery and satirical piss-taking than the wholesome spectacle it strives to be. Specifically titled "Fellini Satyricon" to set it apart from Gian Luigi Polidoro's 1968 film "Satyricon," which was a calculated attempt to cash in on the expected success of Fellini's movie that had its premiere the following year. (c) berlioz 2014

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