Fellini: I'm A Born Liar

"Very Good"

Fellini: I'm A Born Liar Review


Damian Pettigrew's Fellini: I'm a Born Liar is a good documentary that features a terrific firsthand interview with the great Italian director Federico Fellini and a good number of other interviews with those who worked with him to create some of the best films of his career.

It is structured mainly to give us Fellini's philosophical take on making movies and the psychology of the creative process. Fellini provides a ton of great quotes, such as, "The instant I begin to work, a mysterious invader that I don't know takes over the whole show," and, "The greatest danger for an artists is total freedom." And, more to the point of his method perhaps, "Psychologically the artist is an offender. He has a childish need to offend. And to be able to offend you need a parent, a headmaster, a high priest, the police..."

Fellini wasn't above "offending" his own crew either. Donald Sutherland, in a candid if not harsh interview, states that Fellini's relationship with his actors was dreadful and that he was a martinet, a dictator, and a demon.

Others are a more gracious, though each of them recalls Fellini as a controlling man who some of the time had a unique sense of humor. Terence Stamp, who starred in Toby Dammit, has some of the best and more humorous recollections. One in particular is how Fellini told him to in order to get into the character he was playing he should imagine that he had been up all night partying and getting laid and now someone had put LSD under his tongue.

The best sections are the behind-the-scenes footage where we see Fellini's working method in such films as Amarcord, Satyricon, and Casanova. What doesn't get mentioned though is that Fellini worked without sync sound, thus shooting everything silent and then dubbing all of his actor's voices later in the editing. By working this way he was able to constantly talk to and instruct the actors on the set as we see in a great clip from another documentary titled Ciao, Federico!, which is about the making of Satyricon.

Fellini: A Born Liar has a few shortcomings. One is that it primarily deals with his late films as opposed to his first seven-and-a-half. And also, by delving into Fellini's method and psychology the film rarely gets down to the actual making of the films. Most of the things Fellini says are general ideas about his mental process, his love of artificiality, and his natural propensity as an artist to invent his own reality. Rarely does Pettigrew let us hear Fellini talk about his specific methods, which is why the real behind-the-scenes footage is so good.

According to the press notes Damian Pettigrew did ten hours worth of interviews with Fellini and it really makes you wonder what he left out. But despite these petty shortcomings, this is the best documentary yet about the great Italian master.

Aka Fellini: Je suis un grand menteur.



Fellini: I'm A Born Liar

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 2nd April 2003

Distributed by: First Look Pictures Releasing

Production compaines: Arte, Portrait & Cie

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 29 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer:

Starring: as Himself / La Voce della Luna, Luigi 'Titta' Benzi as Himself / Ami d'enfance, Italo Calvino as Himself / Ecrivain, Dante Ferretti as Himself / Chef décorateur, Rinaldo Geleng as Himself / Peintre, as Himself, as Himself / Toby Dammit, as Himself / Casanova

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