Rolling Thunder Rewatch Revue #3

“Guido has to think about his whole life before he directs . . .

One of those films that just OVERWHELMS you. When I saw it in . . . I must have been in middle school . . . it was probably the first film I had saw that you could call an “art film.” And it was in a foreign language to boot! It was a lot to take in for poor lil Joseph whose favorite film at the time was probably in the key of Christopher Nolan. I had little to no knowledge of not just Fellini but the ENTIRE history of world cinema. I seized on the surrealism (young people may not have all the book smarts but they sure do know when something looks COOL), but dismissed the narrative as a bunch of malarkey. Another 7 rating on IMDB.

Watching it today, it’s so abundantly clear that it is one of the greatest, most audacious films of all time. Hot take, I know. Cinematography, production design, direction, scoring, acting . . . it fires on all cylinders. The metatextual script, BRILLIANT. The high-contrast B&W cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo (lensed Antonioni’s best looking films L’Eclisse & La Notte) is consistently AWE-INSPIRING. Mastroianni’s performance is TOTEMIC. It’s actually easier to point out its flaws than its virtues because there are so few. In my opinion, there’s a bit of flab in the middle section that could be eliminated (especially in comparison to the continual excitement of the first and third act) but Fellini was never a master of cutting things out. 

On the other hand, the best scenes are not just the best scenes in the movie but are some of the greatest of all time. The beginning sequence itself . . . I’m hard pressed to think of a better film opening. Probably the most famous scene, the dream harem, is just GOD-TIER. By the way, Marcello is the only man who could make that hat (and also those sunglasses he sports throughout the film) look chic. And the ending brings everything around in such a satisfying circularity . . . you truly love to see it.

I could watch this once every year and be happy.

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