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I Clowns [Blu-ray] [Import]

Riccardo Billi , Federico Fellini , Federico Fellini    Unrated   Blu-ray

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Product Description

Fellini's fascination with the circus and the surreal come to a head in one of his final masterpieces, The Clowns. The film reflects Fellini's childhood obsession with clowns and begins with a young boy watching a circus set up from his bedroom window. Though comical and referred to as a "docu-comedy", this film explores deeper human conditions such as authority, poverty, humility and arrogance, all of which manifest themselves through the characters of the clowns who vary from the local sex-crazed hobo, a midget nun, to a mutilated Mussolini disciple. Featuring Anita Ekberg, the star of his 1960's masterpiece, La Dolce Vita and the director himself.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great to have Feb. 24 2012
By digiunta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I'd like to defend this against some of the negative reviews here. Just my opinion. I don't work for the company. I haven't seen the French release but then that's not widely available, and not everybody has a multi-region player. I Clowns was just not available for so long. This is a full-featured disc with a 40 min. video essay about the film, a 50 pg. booklet filled with Fellini's color drawings, reproduced beautifully, and his long essay of reflections on clowns "A Journey Into The Shadow," - the most important bits from the coffee table hardback "I Clowns" published by Rienzi in 1970 (also pretty hard to get). And Fellini's 16 min. short from the omnibus film "L'Amore in Cittá," which has also been unavailable in the US. That's not all, sound in DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, and meticulous listing of cast, crew, and credits, identifying every person appearing in both films explaining where they appear, and even where scenes were shot and when.
The Product Description is misleading. It's not one of Fellini's "final masterpieces." It was done 20 years before his final film and is not a masterpiece, as Fellini himself describes in his essay, recounting the "carefree and laid-back attitude with which (he) approached it," "without thinking about it too much," approaching it with his "left hand." And it doesn't "feature" Anita Ekberg, she has a short cameo appearance in it.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC FELLINI "METACINEMA" Jan. 2 2011
By E. D. DORSOGNA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I first saw this film in college in the early 70s; it was about the time of SATYRICON and after JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, thusly, around the time that Fellini was moving away from narrative cinema and into the "metacinema" that would be more and more prevalent in his later films. I CLOWNS was by far his most successful foray into films reflexive onto themselves as "film". Surely, none of his other pseudodocumenataries ever approached the emotional tug that I CLOWNS produces. The lovingly recreated clown acts that Fellini films, accompanied by the haunting trumpet theme that winds through one of them, has never left me. I am gratified that I CLOWNS will be available on DVD, finally; I only hope it is struck from a clean master and not just a rebooting of the inferior VHS copy that is still out there somewhere. I CLOWNS is a film that, if viewed with a sympathetic imagination, can bring anyone back to the wonderment felt at the world when one was young. Now that I CLOWNS is available, by my reckoning it is only LA VOCE DELLA LUNA, Fellini's last film, that is not available on DVD. C'mon, guys, someone's gotta release this one too!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Send in "The Clowns" April 26 2011
By James M. Shertzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
For Fellini fans, this is a treat - the director's lengthiest and most elaborate examination of one of the mainstays of his films - clowns and circuses. It's part biography (what an wonderful opening, with a small boy watching a circus tent going up outside his bedroom window, as if it's an extension of his dreams), part history and part circus extravanganza. Rota's score is a gem - circus versions of themes from practically all Fellini's films to that point. Shot for television but released soon after in theaters, the movie is not one of Fellini's best-photographed films, and I recall finding the color odd and grainy in the original 35mm prints. But this edition is about as good a transfer as you could hope for. Also, for Fellini completists, the disc includes Fellini's "Matrimonial Agency" from the early 50s compilation movie, "Love in the City." That film has yet to be released on DVD in the US. It's rather minor Fellini, but contains the seed from which Marcello, the central character in "La Dolce Vita," grew.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part clown documentary, part travelogue, part history lesson Oct. 18 2011
By DVD Verdict - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Gordon Sullivan, DVD Verdict --When The Clowns first arrived on DVD, fans were ecstatic that this little-seen Fellini film was getting an American release. However, most reviewers noted that the release wasn't as stunningly remastered as they would like. Many of those problems--though not quite all--have been addressed with this Blu-ray disc. The AVC-encoded transfer has an impressive amount of detail, and the print from which it was made is surprisingly free of damage. Color saturation is spot on, but there's something about the image that can look a little over-processed. It's nothing in particular (like edge-enhancement or excessive DNR) that I can point my finger to, but the transfer gives the impression that it could be better. For audio we get a pair of Italian DTS-HD tracks. One is mono, the other 5.1. The 5.1 track is a total waste, with no real surround use and little in the way of directionality or atmosphere. In either case, we're dealing with forty-year-old location sound on a television documentary. The audio doesn't have the body or clarity we expect from contemporary sources, though it's still very listenable.

The disc itself houses a pair of extras. The first is a short film that Fellini made for an anthology; it's a fictional take on marriage and comedy. The second is the more substantial of the two, a 42-minute "visual essay" on The Clowns that discusses its style and history while comparing it to other artifacts from the period (like archival photos of clowns). Finally, this release includes a long booklet with information from Fellini himself about the genesis of the project and how he envisioned it. In many ways fans of Fellini will appreciate this booklet and the "visual essay" more than the film itself.

The Clowns is a very minor entry into the director's canon, and it's hard to trust a "documentary" from a filmmaker as interested as Fellini is in blurring the line between fact and fiction. A rental is probably best for the curious before deciding to plunk down the cash for this release.

The Clowns is a fascinating peek into the mind of an internationally beloved filmmaker and his passion for clowns. Yes, that sounds a bit odd, and Fellini must have known he was making an oddity. Fans of the director should give the film (and especially the extras) at least a rental. Those who bought the previous DVD should seriously consider an upgrade for the improved audiovisual presentation of this disc.

-Full review at dvdverdict.com
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faux Documentary Meets Fictive Reality Aug. 11 2011
By Stephen C. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe only 4 other people have reviewed this film, and that it seems to have passed under the radar. This is another Fellini film I hadn't seen in years. I remember that it depressed me the first time I saw it, but then I was much younger, and now my life experience has caught up to that of Fellini's age when he made this picture for television. This time, I was inspired. And I learned a lot. Fellini's non-commercial pictures are often better than his more mainstream, commercial hits! Granted, this film is not entirely consistent in terms of quality; but when it's good, it's really good! One of the important themes of "The Clowns" is that of the White Clown versus the Augusto; the White Clown representing authority, discipline, respectability, moral superiority, parents, what one should do or is supposed to do: the Augusto representing the rebel, the enfant terrible, the spoiled brat, the practical joker, the delinquent, the one who screams, jeers and disrespects. This picture was done in a faux-documentary-style that at first seems to be authentic; gradually it becomes evident that Fellini is satirizing the documentary process. The working lives of several famous 20th century European clowns are explored in this film, many of them being of Italian and French origin, but Spanish, Cuban and English as well. A diverse array of clown makeup, costumes and styles are presented in this film. The clown costumes especially are stunning; they could even be described as Dada-influenced. Selections from Nino Rota's various compositions are appropriately and effectively utilized as a soundtrack.

The most compelling sequences in this picture are those in which Fellini re-creates his conception of the world of the clown in a circus environment, particularly the amazing, extravagant final scene, the "Clown Funeral", which vacillates between faux documentary and outright spectacle. There are a few sad visits to clowns in the twilight of their lives, but other than that atmosphere is quite upbeat. Fellini also examines characters from his hometown, "grotesques", who reminded him of the clowns he saw at the circus in his youth; the maestro reveals that as a boy, he found the clowns to be disturbing, as opposed to funny. Fellini compares the clown to man's "shadow side" (IE in one sequence where high-profile individuals are being qualified by Fellini as clowns, Sigmund Freud is classified as a "White Clown"; Carl Jung is qualified as an "Augusto"). At the end of the picture, perhaps to illustrate a symbolic reconciliation of opposites, the White Clown and the Augusto, both playing horns, leave the circus theatre together. A 42-minute documentary, included as supplemental material, deconstructs "The Clowns" from various technical perspectives; much of the supplemental documentary contains repeats of chapters from the main feature. A booklet is included with the DVD containing Fellini's essays about clowns and his drawings of various colleagues and concepts. Fellini is a great writer as well as a filmmaker, and thus I found this booklet to be educational, entertaining and informative.

Stephen C. Bird, Author of "Hideous Exuberance"

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