I’ve never really cared for Fellini’s films. I’ve only seen the big ones: La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2. I enjoy them, but they’re never the kind of movie that get me personally excited about movies or making movies as a concept, though they seem to really light a fire for other people. Which is fine! I’m not about to dispute the talent, vivacity, and splendour on display in a Fellini film. It’s simply a matter of personal taste. The world could use a lot more peaceful disagreement, don’t you think?
Anyway, all that said, I just discovered a gem of an interview with Fellini from a 1966 issue of Playboy that has me wondering whether he might actually be one of my favourite social theorists and I’ve just never known it. (Small aside: In the introduction to the interview, he’s described as “bedaubing and bedizening his cinematic canvas with giddy abandon,” which still doesn’t make me want to watch his movies but certainly had me excited to read more about them.) I’ll let Federico take it from here:
“In 8 1/2, society’s norms and rules imprisoned Guido in his boyhood with a sense of guilt and frustration. From childhood many of us are conditioned by a similar education. Then, growing up, we find ourselves in profound conflict — a conflict created by having been taught to idealize our lives, to pursue aesthetic and ethical ideals of absolute good or evil. This imposes impossible standards and unattainable aspirations that can only impede the spontaneous growth of a normal human being, and may conceivably destroy [them]. You must have experienced this yourself. There arrives a moment in life when you discover that what you’ve been told at home, in school or in church is simply not true. You discover that it binds your authentic self, your instinct, you true growth. And this opens up a schism, creates a conflict that must eventually be resolved — or succumbed to. In all forms of neurosis there is this clash between certain forms of idealization in a moral sense a contrary aesthetic form.
It all started with the Greeks when they enshrined a classical standard of physical beauty. A man who did not correspond to that type of beauty felt himself excluded, inferior, an outsider. Then came Christianity, which established an ethical beauty. This doubled man’s problems by creating the dual possibility that he was neither beautiful as a Greek god nor holy as a Catholic one. Inevitably, you were guilty of either nonbeauty or unsaintliness, and probably both. So you lived in disgrace: Man did not love you, nor did God; thus you remained outside of life.”
And this is what he had to say about marriage in the 1960s that would (sadly) still be considered radical now:
“Marriage as an institution needs re-examining. We live with too many nonfunctioning ideologies. Modern [people need] richer relationships…The tragedy of modern [people] is that [they] need a multiplicity of individual relationships, whereas, at least in the culture in which I live, [they are] still forced into a single-mated world. Without it, [their lives] could develop into something interesting, into a higher evolution.”
Trying to do just that, Rico. It’s not without its challenges, of course. We’ll keep you posted.
This interview appears in a collected anthology of interviews with film directors in Playboy over the years, and they’re all terrifically candid, enviable conversations. I mentioned it to my dad and he said it’s because Playboy had the $$$ to hire the best writers. Makes sense! Certainly their track record with fiction is well known. Also, back in the day it seems like an interview for a magazine feature was expected to last upwards of ten hours over a few days; Lizzie‘s lucky if she can get someone on the phone for 20 minutes. There are no pictures at all in the collection, so afterwards you can unironically tell people that you do in fact read Playboy exclusively for the articles.
I am experiencing a resurgence of confidence lately and hope to be writing all the time. Look for more here should you so desire. ❤
Until next time and I hope you’re well.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB