Friday, July 20, 2007
Fellini Satyricon; grotesque, Italy/ France, 1969; D: Federico Fellini, S: Martin Potter, Hiram Keller, Max Born, Salvo Randone, Magali Noël, Capucine
Ancient Rome during the reign of emperor Nero. Students Encolpius and Ascyltus are fighting over the affection for boy Gitone. Encolpius saves Gitone from slavery of a bizarre theatre and spends the night with him. A earthquake destroys the city...Encolpius is observing a museum and enjoys a feast with the rich Trimalchio who orders his men to execute a poet...Encolpius, Ascyltus and Gitone end up as slaves on a ship to die for Caesar's amusement, but get released when he gets killed by a revolution...Encolpius and Ascyltus steal a hermaphrodite half-god from a temple, but it dies from thirst...Encolpius fights against the Minotaur and gets impotent. He leaves for Africa after Ascyltos dies.
With his loose adaptation of Petronius' novel "Satyricon", Federico Fellini probably strived to create a parable about chaos and spiritual emptiness of the ancient Rome, but lost himself entirely in the context by filming one of his worst films in which he doesn't have a measure for anything, disappointing everyone except his biggest fans who can even find something amazing in the phantasmagorical chaos and megalomanic frenzy. The original text survives only in fragments, and instead of trying to connect those which survived, Fellini decided to present the material in a series disjointed and dislocated scenes, but his didactic of Rome contains too many horrifying nonsense: in the grotesque theatre one actor farts while the other voluntarily lets the others to cut of his hand. The phantasmagorical tone continues with the scenes where 30 people carry a giant statue of a head, a mass of people bathing nude in nature, a dead whale, rampage, a hermaphrodite half-god who dies..."Satyricon" has an impressive visual style and sense for abstract mise-en-scene, but because of a excessive tendency towards tasteless grotesque, unbearable anxiety and pretentiousness, this episodic plot without a story doesn't have much of a value, becoming larpurlartism. Not even the scene where a humiliated wizard takes revenge on a woman creating fire for the whole village from her genitals is neither amusing nor relevant. Although nominated for a Oscar for best director and a Golden Globe for best foreign language film, "Satyricon" is a weird mess of a film.