Saturday, June 20, 2009

IL CASANOVA DI FEDERICO FELLINI (Federico Fellini, 1976, Italy) Nina Rota’s music-box score implies the mechanical nature of Casanova’s obsession and sexual addiction, an echo in the void of existential despair. Director Federico Fellini deconstructs the myth of Casanova and strips him bare to reveal the egocentric and one-dimensional spirit of this 18th century libertine; a man who prays at the alter of self, a vapid ghost who haunts the dark nights and shadows…a spiritual death long before his clockwork body winds down. Fellini eschews narrative formula and films operatic vignettes where Casanova is always the centerpiece like an actor cavorting among Europe’s elitist coterie. The exceptional cinematography and absurd makeup glorify and indulge the comic aspect of this sexual farce by using oversaturated primary colors contrasted by clownish cosmetics, a pantomime of absurd visuals beautifully captured on celluloid. As we follow Casanova’s exploits we see his life entirely from his perspective as instigator and prima donna, a man who believes himself the cultural apex of homo sapiens evolution. Fellini even contrasts this belief when Casanova studies with Dr. Mobius in Sweden: there are many cut scenes to a stuffed chimp as he attempts to seduce the current “love of his life”. Donald Sutherland as the titular character is exceptional as he imbues this unlikable rogue with a subtle sadness, his red-rimmed eyes reflected in a frosted mirror, his downcast eyes almost make him a victim of his times, an ogre created by the very society he tries to subsume, all of which defies Fellini’s intentions. The other characters and conquests are sideshows, orgasmic paraphernalia that react to Casanova’s whim, until he is an old and bitter man, an empty phallus who has no more seed to plant. He is relegated to a feces smeared portrait whose books and philosophies are long forgotten, a man who substituted lust of fame and fortune for true love, and now can only dance with a simulacra in his frozen dreams. (B+)


Radiation Cinema! said...

Fantastic Post! I have never seen this film, but your concise, excellent writing has got me interested. Absolutely adored the last sentence. Bravo! -- Mykal

Alex DeLarge said...

Thanks Mykal! Keep up the great work over at RADIATION CINEMA! Love the review of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD; one of my favorite science fiction films.