Amarcord (1974): Fellini Remembers–Best Foreign Language Oscar Winner

Alongside La Dolce Vita and 81/2, which were made a decade earlier, Federico Fellini’s Amarcord is one of his three or four masterworks in a distinguished career that spanned four decades.

Grade: A (***** out of *****)

Amarcord (film) poster.jpg

Original movie poster, by John Alcorn

Amarcord is at once a very personal film and a more detached socio-political scrutiny of Italian society and its mores when the director was growing up, during the fascist regime.

The film is rich enough to suggest different reading and meanings. On one level, it a bittersweet celebration of Fellini’s youth in Rimini, and on another, a cautionary tale about the social conditions which gave rise to Fascism.

Fellini intended the film to depict the social, cultural, and political isolation from the rest of the world that Italians experienced under Mussolini.

Fellini said he had hoped that Amarcord “might stimulate reflection on the gradual extinction of so many simple and less simple pleasures,” which fascism ultimately causes.

Amarcord is about, in Fellini’s own words, the “psychological, emotional manner of being a fascist.” For Fellini, this psychological state entails a sort of “blockage, an arrested development during the phase of adolescence… living with the comforting sensation that there is someone who thinks for you (one time it’s mother, then father, then the mayor, another time Il Duce, the Madonna, the bishop) and in the meantime you have this limited, time-wasting freedom which permits you to cultivate only absurd dreams… ”

Amarcord was a popular and critical success in Italy, as well as internationally.

The film opened the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, after winning the Oscar Award for Best Foreign Film.

The New Yorker commented (rather unfairly) that, “After a decade or so of being ‘out,’ Fellini is ‘in’ again.”

About Fellini (Short Bio)

Fellini was born to a farming and trading family in the coastal town of Rimini in 1920. As a young man, he wound up in Rome and tried to become a journalist. Fellini began his film career in the Italian neo-realist movement, which started at the end of World War II. He collaborated with Roberto Rossellini on the screenplays for Open City (1946) and Paisan (1946). Eventually, Fellini was to become the best-known Italian filmmaker outside of the country.

Running Time: 127 minutes

New World Pictures release (Italy)

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 3

Foreign-Language Picture
Director: Federico Fellini
Screenplay (Original): Fellini and Tonino Guerra

Oscar Awards: 1

Foreign-Language Picture


Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Fellini, Tonino Guerra
Produced by Franco Cristaldi
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Edited by Ruggero Mastroianni
Music by Nino Rota
Distributed by PIC Distribuzione (IT); Warner (International)

Release date: December 18, 1973 (Italy)

Running time: 124 minutes