BD Release Date:
27th October 2014 (UK)
Riccardo Billi, Federico Fellini, Gigi Reder,
buy:I Clowns (The Clowns) [Masters of Cinema] Dual Format (Blu-ray & DVD) (1970)
Fellini’s work in the 1970s is often overlooked when it comes to his oeuvre but it contains someof his finest and most imaginative films. I Clowns is a prime example of this: it was made for Italian TV in 1970 and is a quasi-documentary about clowns, but to call it “just a documentary” would be hard. It’s more of a mockumentary, not unlike what he later did with Roma well before the concept was in vogue. Fellini is a character in both films, and is this case making a film on circus clowns.
As is the case with pretty much all of Fellini’s films, there is an autobiographical element,and the little boy who was enchanted by the clowns but scared by them in equal measure is clearly a young Fellini. This not unlike how he approaches his female characters in his films, especially some like 8 ½. Fellini shows up later making a documentary on famous circus clowns though Europe and finds them in Paris, among other places.
The film ends with a parade, like Fellini’s finest film 8 ½, and the director returns to themes has done before. Many of the truly great directors, like his most logical successor in cinematic fantasy Terry Gilliam, do this and Hitchcock basically made a film about a wrong man at least a dozen times. It’s indulgent in the way Fellini is, but unlike some of his later films it has enough discipline due to the short running time of 90 minutes since it was a TV movie. The film is full of vibrant colour that the initial TV audience missed due to it premiering in black and white.
It’s a hidden gem in Fellini’s wonderful imaginative body of work that has luckily been re-released by Masters of Cinema. This is a nice HD transfer which brings out the beauty in the grotesque perfectly. It features a video essay along with numerous written essays in the booklet.