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I, Fellini

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In this memoir, Federico Fellini speaks eloquently about the spirit of imagination and childlike wonder that inspired his creation of some of the true masterpieces of cinema. Federico Fellini is one of the most controversial figures in the history of film. He had spectacular successes such as LA STRADA, LA DOLCE VITA and 8 1/2. Yet he also had failures. Noted for the autobiographical nature of his films, Fellini used his own experiences mixed with symbolism and fantasy to create many memorable images that have become part of film legend.

I, FELLINI is a gathering of conversations held between 1980 and a few weeks before his death in 1993. It is a record of Fellini speaking rather than writing and is a wonderfully expansive and articulate record of his life and thought. The conversations were recorded mostly in Rome in restaurants and cafes. Fellini did not recall his life chronologically but instead spoke from memory, mixing the sequence of events with his impressions and commentary on the film business, directors, actors, actresses and other personalities. There is generous space given to recollections of Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, and Anna Magnani and on directors such as Roberto Rossellini, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni. Fellini repeatedly speaks lovingly of his wife, actress Giulietta Masina.

Fellini begins by talking about dreams. To him dreams are the only reality, although he admits that most people do not understand that. He was not an only child but was an alone child. In his solitude, he learned he was free to create his own imaginary worlds. His first shows were put together with puppets he made from cardboard with heads of clay, and he received early encouragement from his family and neighbors. An early experience at the circus made a strong impression on Fellini. As a child, Fellini even ran away to join travelling circuses from time to time. Over the years, he had many dreams about the circus, images of which would surface in LA STRADA. As Fellini says in the book, “The luxury of being a director is that you are allowed to give life to your fantasies.”

In I, FELLINI, Fellini gives his opinions freely on everything from filmmaking to elevator music and television. Reading the book is like spending time on a journey with a mysterious, fascinating man whose conversation is at once both insightful and entertaining.