(Faber and Faber, 464 pages, $27.50)
By Tullio Kezich
There is no filmmaker quite like Federico Fellini, yet his influence can be seen in countless films of the past 40 years. Certainly, directors like Woody Allen have drawn obvious inspiration from the maestro in films such as Stardust Memories and Deconstructing Harry. But, other, younger filmmakers have also adopted a "Felliniesque" approach, including: Spike Jonze (Adaptation), Sophia Coppola (Lost In Translation), Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic) and Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers). (The latter 3 films all star Bill Murray, perhaps making him this generation's droller stand-in for Marcello Mastroianni.) Tullio Kezich, a film critic and longtime friend of Fellini's, has written an intimate, detailed biography that perfectly captures Fellini's roller coaster of a life. Recounting the director's experience making La Strada, Kezich tells how Fellini was seized by a nearly paralyzing depression during filming. Hoping to fend off her husband's personal and professional collapse, Fellini's wife and the film's star, Guilietta Masina, calls in a psychoanalyst. After only a handful of sessions, Fellini flees from the analyst's office and encounters a beautiful, mysterious woman on the street, a woman who would remain in his life for years (while staying married to and, in his own way, devoted to Masina). Sufficiently 'healed,' Fellini finishes the film and it becomes an international hit, lauded at festivals around the globe, and winning the first-ever foreign language Oscar in 1957. Fellini went on to direct films for the next 30 years, passing away in 1993, one day after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary to the woman who was both his muse and his alter ego. Kezich seamlessly weaves together the life and work of this most autobiographical filmmaker, shedding new light on the films, and no doubt sending many readers straight to the video store, eager to view Fellini's cinematic masterworks all over again with fresh eyes.
Review written by Gloria Norris.