The Influence of Federico Fellini

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Federico Fellini - A Legendary Filmmaker

Federico Fellini was an Italian screenwriter and a film director. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest prominent filmmakers who influenced many people in the twentieth century. Fellini began his work as an assistant scriptwriter where he developed his interest in filmmaking. As such, Fellini is considered to be a poetic filmmaker whose works are an intense mixture of reality and fantasy, and hence, he is depicted to be an influential person who has significantly inspired new stylistic development in filmography.

Fellini's Biography

Fellini was born in Italy, Rimini on January 20, 1920. His father was called Urbano Fellini and his mother was named da Barbiani. They were middle class He went to a Catholic boarding school when he was a teenager, and he served as a caricaturist for a local theater. He drew portraits of movie stars. He then left his home town, Rimini and went to Florence where he worked as a cartoonist and a proofreader before he enrolled at the University of Rome to study law. However, Fellini did not attend his law classes but rather worked as a writer of short stories and a cartoonist. He wrote for Marc' Aurelio satirical publication. In the 1930s, he traveled in most parts of Italy and sought to develop his artistic career. Nonetheless, after the Second World War, Fellini returned to Rome. He opened a shop with his other friends. During this time, he met, Robert Rossellini, a filmmaker who significantly influenced Fellini. This was in 1944 and Rossellini initiated him to filmography and mentored him to become a director. In 1945, Fellini worked for Rossellini and wrote città aperta which is termed to be a seminal film of the Italian Neorealist movement. He joined the movement and created many films. His films were ranked among the best, and he won many prizes including five Academy Awards. Fellini also won most of Oscar awards particularly Best Foreign Language Film (Tornabuoni 14). He progressed in his career as a director and produced great works such as Juliet of the Spirits, La Dolce Vita and Nights of Cabiria. He died of a heart attack in Rome in 1993, October 31 when he was 73 years.

Influence of Prior Filmmakers

The prior filmmakers who significantly influenced Fellini in his career include Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, and Luchino Visconti. Roberto Rossellini is said to have been greatly impacted Fellini through introducing him to filmmaking in 1944. Rossellini mentored Fellini and through his help, Fellini managed to become a director. Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti films were admired by Federico. They created a reputation which made them be prestigious and talented filmmakers. Rossellini taught Fellini the act of filmmaking while in the neorealist movement. Undoubtedly, Rossellini was the most influential person and Fellini learned a lot from him both in theme and in stylistic approach. The filmmakers encouraged him, and they enabled Federico become a prominent person. Admittedly, his works and career are credited to his mentors. He was an outstanding director and a filmmaker whose legacy is still evident to the current world.

Selected Fellini's Works

La Strada

The translation of this film means that The Road and it was released in 1954. La Strada is a poetic tragedy which deals with the suffering and the social disruptions of the post-war era in Italy. The story is about a naive woman called Gelsomina who is brutalized by Zampano and taken to the road (Aldouby 10). This film demanded a lot of time in production and also faced serious challenges such as inadequate financial funding. The first critical reaction to the movie was harsh, and it occasionally faced bitter controversies which escalated the public brawl between Fellini's supporters and detractors (Tornabuoni 4). Nonetheless, it was a masterpiece which won fifty international awards. Later on, the film managed to become one of the most influential movies in history. La Strada was awarded the "inaugural Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1957," and became the fourth best movie in 1992.

This film is emotion as it starts with death and ends with weeping. One of the major themes in this film is brutality. The viewer is able to see that Zampano is a ruthless man and he represents an animalistic nature of a person. He has the strength that overpowers Gelsomina in the entire journey of the road assaults her mentally, physically and emotionally. He slaps and even rapes her. Zampano also sleeps with other women. Zampano's cruelty and ruthless behavior eventually cause murder. He kills The Fool after he humiliates him in the circus. Notably, Zampano's sense of violence and brutality holds the enormous consequence of the Fellini's work. In this film, the road represents the road of life, and Fellini elucidates to the viewer that for one to achieve anything in life, hardships are inevitable. Fellini makes it clear that these challenges have to be endured in order to reach life's dream that will bring fulfillment.

La Dolce Vita

This film was released in 1960, and it is a comedian drama which features Marcello Rubini as the main character. La Dolce Vita highlights her quest to seek happiness and love. Fellini's work was also widely recognized to be a masterpiece, and it was voted by Entertainment Weekly as the 6th greatest film of all time. The film is divided into seven significant prologues that form a storyline. Marcello is a famous Rome journalist, and she aspires to be successful, a leading intellectual of elites as well as a philosopher who will be cherished (Aldouby 10). When the film ends, she is no longer a journalist. Thematically, Mercado wants to have a life of excess popularity, and thus she becomes publicity agent.

Undoubtedly, La Dolce Vita is entertaining, and it was described to be one of the most aired movies in Europe in the 1960s. Fellini's film was also nominated and won four academy awards including "Best Costume Design: Black-and-White" (Bondanella 6). Again the Entertainment Weekly voted the movie to be the 6th greatest film in that time. Still, despite being filmed many decades ago, the movie was still ranked number 11 in 2010 by the Empire magazines as "The 100 Best Films of World Cinema" (Bondanella 7). For this reason, this film has remained to be one of the most cherished Fellini's works.


Amarcord was created by Fellini in 1973, and it is also a comedy-drama and it is depicted to be a semi-autobiographical tale concerning an adolescent man. The boy grows up in an eccentric character in the Italian village. Amarcord made Fellini to be termed as "an artist at his peak" due to its great storyline that it presents to the viewer (Tornabuoni 21). The film shows that some of the Italians were imprisoned in the perpetual adolescence and they were incapable of adopting "genuine moral responsibility or outgrow the foolish sexual fantasies" (Bondanella 18). Amarcord is won 10 different awards from different institutions and organizations. The key award includes the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Film in 1974. Notably, Amarcord marketed Fellini's fame and reputed him as a notable filmmaker.

8½ and Other Films

8½ was produced in 1963, and it is a semi-autobiographical work denoting a director who is not able to determine the subject of filmmaking. He expanded the possibilities of personal expressions in the movie and this is made possible when he adopted a nostalgic and an introspective tone. The storyline of this film makes it a masterpiece, and it is a culmination of redundant and simplicity, and it alludes to excessively flamboyant nature. It is also one of his films that centered on the struggles and problems which artists face in delivering personal issues. The movie broadly concerns finding a sense of meaning in fragmented and problematic situations. Furthermore, 8½ centered on alienating the effects of modernization, and it contains a self-reflective theme of Fellini life. Another film is the Nights of Cabiria produced in 1957. The film aimed at developing the theme of conflicts that occur in life particularly on heroin and the underlying implication on human nature. Nights of Cabiria created an atmosphere that condemned the use of drugs and prostitution in Rome. The movie received many honors such as the "Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film" in 1957 (Bondanella 30). Juliet of the spirits was produced in 1965 and showcased a growing interest in the post-war European films. He evoked the woman's troubled psyche in this film.

Fellini's Influence in the Neorealist Movement and the French New Wave

Fellini played an important role in the Italian cinema. He was an active figure in the Neorealist movement which paved the way for the French New Wave. He started as an assistant director, but his impact on filmography was substantial. Vast literature alludes that he emphasized on the post-war agenda and depicted the Italian fascism as being shameful (Hope et al. 38). Moreover, many states that Fellini was part of the Neorealist movement until the 1950s and his films such as I vitelloni of 1953 and Luci del Varietà of 1950 are a manifestation of his active role in the movement (Bondanella 6). The neorealist movement was the golden age in the national film movement, and it contented the moral and economic difficult conditions which were experienced in Italy after the post-World War II. Fellini was fundamental in revolutionizing the Italian psyche as well as the situations in everyday life such as injustices, poverty, desperation, and oppression. Hope et al. stipulate that "Fellini’s status as a remarkable artist of the cinema … contains a strong autobiographical element and whose preoccupations are consistently expressed in his films" (Hope et al. 47). Neorealist movement through the impact of Fellini paved the way for La Nouvelle Vague along with many other Film Movements.

The Neorealist movement is termed as the most influential movement in the history if western cinema. More importantly, O'rawe states that the movement impacted on La Nouvelle Vague which was the French New Wave of filmography in the 1960s (O'rawe 17). O'rawe goes further to elucidate Fellini was indeed radical in the cinematic filed, and this owes to the neorealist movement. Hence, Fellini had a heavy influence in the French cinema. . He managed to establish Italy as being a culturally cinematic nation. Milli states that before the movement, the most protuberant Italian contribution to the field of cinema was the Futurism movement of the 1910s (Milli 13). According to Milli, the neorealist movement was a form of cinematic innovation, which largely impacted on the Italian artistic cinema and created a culture and expedition of high quality in the 1940s. Fellini's films such as La dolce vita, and 8½ remodeled the facets and the theme of the pre-war cinema. This included the aspects of economics, politics, culture, and society which have been pivotal in modern history. Simply put, the naturalist movement is the golden age of the Italian cinema.


Fellini's films are denoted to be one of the earliest landmarks in the cinema world of the postmodernism. He was an influential original filmmaker of his time, and he is fundamentally acclaimed of involving grotesque imagery, use of surreal as well as the development of a narrative style that appeals to the viewer. When he was the director of the neorealist movement, Fellini expanded the horizons of the filmography and developed an unorthodox approach to filmmaking. Thus, the evolution of the screenplays from neo-realism to surrealism is largely attributed to his contribution. Throughout his career, Fellini painted highly successful collaborative relationships with other filmmakers. His major works include La Strada, La dolce vita, and 8 ½ and his outstanding performance made him win many awards. Among the many awards, it includes the "1993 Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement" and the four Oscars. Certainly, there is no doubt that Fellini will remain to be a notable figure in filmography and his stunning works will still impact the modern filmmakers.

Works Cited

Aldouby H. "Federico Fellini: Painting in Film, Painting on Film." Choice Reviews Online. American Library Association. 51(2014): 51.

Bondanella, P. The Films of Federico Fellini. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.

Hope, W. et al. "Federico Fellini: Contemporary Perspectives." The Modern Language Review. 98(2003): 1011.

Konewko W., Simonetta. Neorealism and the "New" Italy. New York, Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016.

O'rawe, C. "Italian Neorealist Cinema: An Aesthetic Approach." Screen,. Oxford University Press (OUP). 51(2010): 289-292.

Tornabuoni, L. Federico Fellini. New York, Rizzoli, 1995.

September 25, 2023

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