Monday, May 11, 2009


I've been preparing for a trip abroad by reading books and watching films. It's pretty easy to get me to do these things. I'm reading my way through the Dark Ages, the late Medieval Period, and the Renaissance...and zipping through Netflix watching Italian movies, new films, travelogs, and some old favorites. There is a risk in revisiting things you loved when you were younger ("The Catcher in the Rye," for example) but some things seem to get better with age--take Fellini. Watching La Dolce Vita and 8 1/2 again, I'm astonished. Especially with the latter, since I've seen La Dolce Vita several times over the years but I hadn't seen 8 1/2 since my twenties. Time plays its tricks. The film is identical, frame for frame, to what I saw back then but I've changed and grown and lived a good stretch of life since then and from this vantage point watching the film is an entirely new experience. Heraclitus had a point.

While everyone is rushing out to see the new Star Trek, stay home. Think up an excuse. Then pop La Dolce Vita into the box. Or 8 1/2. Take a deep breath and open your eyes for a lesson in cinema as well as life. Keep it to yourself. If you tell some people you like Fellini they might think you're putting on airs, or you're pretentious, or that you couldn't possibly understand what he was getting at. These people are fools. They have no poetry in their souls. You're better off without them.

Martin Scorsese talks about 8 1/2 in this clip is from his excellent documentary on Italian cinema, My Voyage to Italy.

Part 2 is located here.

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