Federico Fellini

Federico Fellini began working as a radio writer, scriptwriter, cartoonist, and assistant for Italian filmmakers Roberto Rossellini and Pietro Germi. When he finally directed his first few features, The White Sheik (1952) and I Vitelloni (1953), it at first seemed to suggest Fellini was aiming to establish himself as more of a comedic filmmaker. But when La Strada (1954) was made, starring Fellini’s leading lady and wife Giulietta Masina, it apparently contained many of the iconic ‘Felliniesque’ trademarks which the director would constantly be known for all throughout the rest of his career. Images and themes such as the circus, the parade, the seashore, loneliness, the search for love, a figure suspended between earth and sky and women being portrayed as either sacred or profane or mother or whore. An immediate box office hit, La Strada won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and it catapulted Fellini to the front ranks of that country’s greatest filmmaking talents. When he made his next film Nights of Cabiria in 1957 it was the sensational ‘Chaplinesque’ performance by Giulietta Masina that this time gained attention. When his extravagant film La Dolce Vita (1960) was released three years later it presented a drastic but defining shift away from Fellini’s 50’s films, as the story this time followed a soulless and vapid gossip columnist whose job chronicled fading aristocrats, second-rate movie stars, aging playboys and women of commerce. Unlike the more gentler themes which were explored in La Strada and Nights of Cabiria, there could be no room for a quirky innocent character like Giulietta Masina in Fellini’s latest film, as the world in La Dolce Vita was much bleaker, harsher and unforgiving. La Dolce Vita was Fellini’s most successful film to date, which caused Fellini to suffer from ‘Director’s Block’ when he began to go into production for his next film project. Fortunately this stressful predicament led Fellini to come up with his autobiographical masterpiece 8 ½, which is now considered one of the greatest of all films about ‘making a film’ ever made. The story is about a film director named Guido who feels he is trapped and a prisoner of his own life and his own profession. Guido clearly represents Fellini and combines all his lusts, fears, sexual fetishes, desires and self doubts as a filmmaker and artist. A lot of people believed Fellini was abandoning his Italian neo realism roots when he began making La Dolce Vita and 8 ½, probably because his style began evolving and shifting into the realm of pure fantasy. When Fellini arrived at Juliet of the Spirits, (1965) Fellini Satyricon (1969) and Amarcord (1973) he began venturing off into juxtaposed dreams and hallucinations, jungles of Freudian Christian fantasies, exaggerations and the grotesque of the circus. And yet it was this distinct revolutionary style of blending surrealistic images with gritty neo realism which would establish Fellini as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of the 20th century.

Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini Featured Films
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Articles and Essays on Federico Fellini

Amarcord (1973)

If there ever was a film that was made entirely out of nostalgia, joy and straight from the heart it would have to be Federico Fellini’s Amarcord, which was the winner of the Foreign Language Oscar in 1973 and considered by many to be Fellini’s last ‘great film.’ Amarcord means ‘I remember’ which is in the dialect of Rimini […]


Nights of Cabiria (1957)

One of the great attributes in Federico Fellini’s tragic masterpiece Nights of Cabiria is the sensational performance by his wife and leading lady Giulietta Masina; who won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. The way she manipulates her wide eyes, her large eyebrows and her walk and manner is a complete character performance and […]


La Dolce Vita (1960)

Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita which in English is titled ‘The Sweet Life’ follows a gossip columnist named Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) whose job chronicles ‘the sweet life’ of fading aristocrats, second-rate movie stars, aging playboys and vapid women of commerce. The movie follows Marcello as he chases down stories and women, and attends high-class elaborate parties, all the […]


8½ (1963)

“In the case of 8 ½, something happened to me which I had feared could happen, but when it did, it was more terrible than I could ever have imagined. I suffered director’s block, like writer’s block. I had a waiting for me to make a film. What they didn’t know was that the film […]


La Strada (1954)

La Strada which in English means ‘The Road’ is one of Federico Fellini’s most heartbreaking fables. It’s a simple road film that contains the many ‘Felliniesque’ trademarks that we would return to throughout Fellini’s career, which are the circus, the parade, the seashore, loneliness, the search for love, a figure suspended between earth and sky, and one woman […]