Book review: Fellini biography examines renowned filmmaker’s seminal ’60s output

Federico Fellini is synonymous with art-house cinema, and the decade of his greatest creativity is captured in a handsome book full of rare and unseen images

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2015, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 2015, 11:24am

Fellini: The Sixties

by Manoah Bowman

Running Press

4 stars

For Federico Fellini aficionados, the lavishly illustrated new book Fellini: The Sixties is the equivalent of a mouth-watering plate of spaghetti and a glass of the best Chianti.

It’s a fantastic voyage into the magical world of one of cinema’s greatest masters, who during his career was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, receiving an honorary Oscar in 1993 “in recognition of his cinematic accomplishments that have thrilled and entertained worldwide audiences”.

Four of his films La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and Amacord – won Oscars for foreign-language film. During the 1960s Fellini’s films became more daring and surreal – and his prominence and influence grew. The book explores his films from that decade – 1960’s La Dolce Vita, 1963’s 8½ , 1965’s Juliet of the Spirits, 1969’s Fellini Satyricon, as well as his contributions to the anthology films Boccaccio ’70 (1962) and 1968’s Spirits of the Dead.

Culled from the Independent Visions Archive, the book features more than 150 images printed from the original negatives. Many of these photographs have never been published before.

The images are almost as incredible as the films, especially the photos of the larger-than-life Fellini as he directs such stars as Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita and his attention to detail working with actors Martin Potter and Max Born in Satyricon.

The book also features essays on Fellini by Gregor Meyer and Cory Milton and a particularly cheeky foreword by the late Ekberg, who made four films with the director. “Federico always loved beautiful women – and I was a beautiful woman!” she wrote.

“He is someone who is so famous in concept and theory as a name, many people only know him by his last name,” says author Manoah Bowman, proprietor of Independent Visions Archive.

“But while many know his name, let’s face it, most of the young generation has never seen one of his movies. They know the term ‘paparazzi’ that came from La Dolce Vita, but they don’t know its origin. He has to be introduced to a new century.”

That’s the main reason why the book concentrates on that decade. “The early films from the 1950s are better structured, but that is not what people care about any more,” says Bowman.

Los Angeles Times