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Federico Fellini: The Complete Films Sep 9, 2003
Given the numerous volumes already been dedicated to Fellini's cinematic genius, one wonders if there is anything new to say about the man who invented the `paparazzi', put Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain and a rhinocerous in a boat. But given that few have ever watched `La Dolce Vita' without scratching their heads about the big fish at the end, this new book by Chris Wiegand comes as a welcome read.
The book takes us on a whirlwind journey through Fellini's life, from his birth in Rimini in 1920 to the cutting edge of fashionable Italian life. Like Paris in the 20s or Berlin in the 30s, Rome was the place to be in the 50s. And Federico Fellini was the unquestionably the man who showed us how sweet and ugly Roman life was (most notably in `La Dolce Vita' and `81/2'). Fellini's later, more `interesting' work is also given equal consideration, despite being rather unfashionable and clearly less accomplished.
On first inspection, Wiegand's book has all the hallmarks of a beautiful-pictures-no-content coffee table book (though without the typically astronomical price-tag). However, what actually makes this book a real delight is the text. Most previous efforts have been dense, rather offputting volumes, but the tone here strikes a shrewd balance between anecdote and more serious analysis, neither overloading us with rumour and revelation nor coming across as chin-strokingly academic. The strongest parts of the book deal with Fellini's emergence and embracing of his role as observer of human desires and idiosyncrasies. Wiegand's uncomplicated handling of Fellini's relationship with his own image and the often misunderstood symbolism in his work is particularly insightful.
Ultimately, Fellini emerges as the colourful ringmaster who not only lived his dreams but put them on film for the rest of the world to enjoy. Like the man himself, `Federico Fellini: The Complete Films' is a compulsive and fascinating read both for newcomers and cinephiles alike.