30 May 2015

Weimar - Travels in former East Germany - 2

Gouty (and Sheila).....

Flood of Life, Storm of Deeds

As readers of Finnegans Wake will know, James Joyce decreed that the triumvirate at the apex of European Literature were DanteGoethe and Shakespeare....  on my honour of a Nearwicked, I always think in a wordworth's of that primed favourite continental poet, Daunty, Gouty and Shopkeeper..... 

Shadow play - Gouty in Weimar

So, Dante is well known as the stand-up comic of the late middle ages, though his comedy has perhaps lost something of its mass appeal in terms of stadium-filling.

Shakespeare.... well, they am still negotiating the film wrights of some of his works, and translations continuous are made.... Who don't know, To be or not?  nor, Et tu, Bro? nor, Tomorrow, and that.... nor, Romeo, Romeo, what's in a name, Rosie.... ect ect (sic)?

Shopkeeper - jauntily statued in Weimar

And therefore, who were this Gouty? What claim did Johann Wolfgang von Goethe make on the great Iris, JJ, to be linked in a trinity with our two way fambly favourites, the Scribbler of Southwark and Stratford,  and the Circumnavigator of the Circles Line?

Busty substances - the many faces  of Goethe

It maybe because I'm a Londoner... or so to speak, but Gouty's big disability is that he was foreign.  I know that reeks of UKIPologies, but ecktually the nuances of Goethe's German have never (apparently) been easily translated into the mother tongue of Air Traffic Controllers, as spoken in Thanet (for example).  Daunty, on the other cheek, is ultimately fairly simple to sing along with (Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita....)  But try putting Faust (part II) into google translate (Alles Vergängliche/Ist nur ein Gleichnis;/Das Unzulängliche/Hier wird's Ereignis;) and it fairly rapidly sounds like a greek menu in Soho.... (For the record, the German means something like: All that must disappear/Is but a parable;/What lay beyond us, here/All is made visible.... and it does not contain the words Taramosalata, Houmous nor Tzatziki)....

Well....  Der truth is that Goethe was a wise guy.  And he struck it lucky in writing a piece called Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of the Young Werther) and scoring a hit with it in 1774 when its author was barely 25 years old. 

Following the sensational success (associated with the Sturm und Drang movement, you know) of this youthfully romantic epistolary novel (keep up) the then Duke of Saxe-Weimar, Karl August, made Goethe a member of his Privy Council. People of discernment, he said, congratulate me on possessing this man. His intellect, his genius is known. It makes no difference if the world is offended because I have made Dr Goethe a member of my most important collegium without his having passed through the stages of minor official professor and councillor of state.....  A diplomatic edict, for sure - worthy of FIFA.....

And so, dear reader, clever clogs Gouty became a sort of Alastair Campbell of the day, before having a sort of Blairite hissy fit (of course I exaggerate) in 1786 and disappearing to Italy for two years.

Which adventure near came to a sudden stop in Malcesine, when arrest threatened the supposed Austrian spy for sketching the castle....

It was indeed here, on the very day that the King (Elvis) died, that I first became aware of Goethe.....  As it is the population of this Lake Garda town all converse in fluent German, and it would seem as if it were but only the other day that Herr Gouty was actually imprisoned in said fortress....

But, hey, it didn't really happen, or at least it was only a Sturm in a Stein, and he made his way to la bella Roma, where, throwing off the pressures of the Weimar Privy Council, and the strains of his erstwhile unrequited love life, he allowed the jolly German aristos who made up a kind of artistic/literati conclave within the infernal city, to wine and dine young Werther until his head span....  As for the artistic tastes of the German colony here, I can only say: the bells ring loudly, but not in unison.....

A couple of days later (after mentioning Angelica Kaufmann, a Swiss painter, married to the Italian painter, Antonio Zucchi) he wrote, I find it becoming more and more difficult to give a proper account of my stay in Rome.  The more I see of this city, the more I feel myself getting into deep waters.....

Ah, poverino!  I had the same problem (though that's where the similarity ends!)  Goethe's Italian Journey is a most approachable book, which, if not the greatest literary achievement of a long life, gives us not only an insight into a different Italy, but also into the life of one that some at least rate as a near equal to Shakespeare and Dante.... I spent some happy, peaceful hours alone in the Public Gardens close to the harbour [Palermo].  It is the most wonderful spot on earth.  Though laid out formally and not very old, it seems enchanted and transports one back into the antique world..... 

[I wonder if it is the paucity of W H Auden's translation, or the superficiality of Gouty's own thoughts, but I am minded that I could have written that....?]

Nagging Gout....  Four horses afore the doors of the Gouty House in Weimar

Anyway, after a great deal of geological specimen collecting (he had 17,800 rock samples when he died), and observations on Raphael's skull (a brain-pan of beautiful proportions and perfectly smooth, without any of those protuberances and bumps which have been observed on other skulls and to which Gall's phrenological theories attach such importance.  I could hardly tear myself away.....)

Anyway, after all that, he made his way back to Weimar, where the good Grand-Duke had kept his place for him, and settled down to a literary life, occupying a vast house with garden on the Frauenplan.  

The house is much as he left it, with his collections of minerals, paintings, sculptures and ceramics on display. He and his wife, Christiane (who died in 1816), developed it into a meeting place and he was constantly holding soirées and receiving distinguished guests.  

Although famous as a writer (his drama Faust was highly influential throughout the literature of Europe; Schopenhauer cited his novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship as one of the four greatest novels ever written, along with Tristram Shandy, La Nouvelle Heloïse, and Don Quixote - though who was he to judge? - and just about everybody from Mozart to Mahler set his poems to music....) Gouty also produced a number of scientific works, and he was read by Charles Darwin, among others.  He himself considered his Theory of Colours (1810) to be his most important work.

A Brown Study - where Gouty worked (and died)

With his friend Sheila (aka Friedrich Schiller, 1759 - 1805) who lived a street away, Gouty founded the Weimar theatre, and together they stand to this day on the Theatreplatz, with fresh flowers at their feet every day.

Sheila's claim to fame, apart from being partially responsible for the term Weimar Classicism, lies in his dramas (several of which became famous operas, such as Verdi's Don Carlos, Donizetti's Maria Stuarda and Rossini's Guillaume Tell) and in his poem, An die Freude, which became the Ode to Joy in the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  

Not a bad claim to fame?

Sheila at home - shame about the wallpaper

Schillers Wohnhaus is an altogether more modest affair than Goethes Wohnhaus und Ausstellung

But both give some idea of the lives lived within them, and both have extensive additional space devoted to exhibitions. In Gouty's case, it is an exhausting labyrinth of cases demonstrating just how (indisputably) great the man was, which was in fact the intended destiny of his house (it was open to the public within hours of his death and has remained so ever since).  In Sheila's case, the current exhibition is of works by another worthy Weimar resident (his house still stands on the Marketplace), Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 -1553).

Sybille of Cleves (not unlike Prunella Scales)

Cranach portrayed himself, next to Martin Luther, in his masterwork, the Triptych Altar Piece in the City Church of St Peter and St Paul,

Lucas Cranach the Elder, with white beard, being anointed with the blood of the crucified Christ

Though apparently several of his greatest works mysteriously went missing in the middle of the twentieth century.  One very fetching Venus can still be seen in a photograph of Hitler's study, though the original is no longer to be found....  The exhibition notes put it clearly:  The Nazis attempted to reassess Europe's cultural heritage from their standpoint of racial chauvinism.... [They] held Cranach the Elder aloft as a representative of 'Germanic artistic creation'....  This ideological instrumentalization (sic) of art went hand-in-hand with their justification of power....  

This had nothing, of course, to do with the fact that Hitler's favourite Cranach was a decidedly sexy young lady wearing nothing but a bee sting..... 

Gouty too was a collector of Cranachs, though his taste was clearly more religious.....

The UNESCO World Heritage committee added Classical Weimar to a list of world heritage sites in 1998, thereby acknowledging the art-historical significance of the public and private buildings and park grounds dating back to the height of Weimar's classical period and the outstanding role Weimar played as an intellectual centre of European life in the late 18th and early 19th century.

It wasn't only Gouty and Sheila, nor the paintings of Lucas Cranach, père et fils, that created this extraordinary heritage.  J S Bach lived and worked here,

The Church of St Peter and St Paul, also known as the Herder Church.
Several of Bach's children were baptised here.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche lived here for a while, and as Master of the Weimar School of Arts and Crafts Architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus here.  In 1540, five years before his death, 57-year-old Martin Luther wrote to his wife from Weimar, that I’m doing well here. I eat like a Bohemian and drink like a German, thanks be to God for this. Amen.

Martin Luther on the balcony of the Elephant Hotel - the same balcony from which Hitler addressed the local people....

Another famous resident, whose house is also open to the public, was Frans Liszt. He lived here, with his friend Princess Carolyne zu Sayne-Wittgenstein, for the summers between 1869 and 1886, and the music conservatoire of Weimar is named after him. [Fancy having a conservatory named after you!]

Fliszt in the Park

With all this Kultural History it is not surprising that Weimar was European Capital of Culture in 1999, though I suppose it only fair to say that perhaps Joyce's Gouty played the biggest part.....   

But what Gouty would have made of Finnegans Wake..... We have to had them whether we'll like it or not.  They'll have to have us now then we're here on theirspot.  Scant hope theirs or ours to escape life's high carnage of semperidentity by subsisting peasemeal upon variables......

[Aktually, I think the true of them would have gott off like a horse of fire.....]

The Goethe Gartenhaus in the Park on the Ilm

You don't play the flute by just blowing - you've got to move your fingers!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
28th August 1749 - 22nd March 1832

Flood of Life; Storm of Deeds

23 May 2015

Himmelfahrt - Travels in former East Germany - 1

Christi Himmelfahrt

Excuse my ignorance. I had not been counting. The fact that May 14th was the 39th day after Easter Sunday took me by surprise. And, moreover, I was not expecting a Thursday to be a public holiday....

So why was everything closed?  Something was wrong.  I was reminded of The Prisoner where things were not quite right.  Bars were not open.  Coffee was unavailable.  Doors were firmly closed.  Streets were eerily quiet. 

And yet, and yet, the train to Erfut was running.  And on time.  But why was it full of empty beer bottles?  At breakfast time?  And why were so many jolly people travelling, their bags clinking with glassware?

On the Krämerbrücke the pfennig finally drops as I notice a small poster advertising an open air event at a nearby Beach Club…..  Today is Himmelfahrt, which, remembering two little bits of German from the past (Gott im Himmel! and my school text book, Fahrt ins Blaue) I manage to translate as Heaven Journey!  Ach so!  Ascension!  In fact this is Christi Himmelfahrt – the day that Jesus ascended into Heaven – and it is a public holiday in the Federal Republic of Germany (and an Ecumenical Feast of Obligation in the Catholic Church).  In some countries it has been transposed to the following Sunday, and consequently perhaps is less prominent in the consciousness of the agnostic public.

Anyway, this partly explains the host of cyclists in Velcro (or is it Lycra?) snapping pictures on the longest inhabited bridge in Europe, and the group of young men in Fischmarkt with a handcart filled with booze and a ghetto blaster, jigging about the statue of St George. What is not immediately apparent is that Ascension Day is also Father’s Day, or Men’s Day (Herrentag) in this part of Germany, and when I look it up I find that Groups of male friends or male relatives spend a day together. They often take part in an outdoor activity, such as a walk in the country or a horse-and-cart ride. Afterwards, they have a communal meal.  What this omits is that it also seems customary here to consume prodigious amounts of alcohol at the same time.

Another surprise is that, despite the years of state atheism in the DDR, and the efforts of Martin Luther (who studied at the University here from 1501 to 1505, then was for a time a monk in the Augustinian monastery before becoming a priest in the Cathedral) Erfut is crowned by two stunning gothic churches, which rise from the Domplatz up a mighty staircase and leap heavenward with towering spires.  

The larger of the two is the Cathedral of St Mary, the Catholic Cathedral, and it is full to bursting for mass, and we can only get in as the grand organ scatters a thrilling fugue out the doors with the departing faithful.

A little to the north of the vast Domplatz (one of the largest market squares in Germany) there is the great citadel of Petersberg, where a smart steel café allows for wide views across the town, 

and the massive Peterskirche houses a display of concrete art, while the Defence Barracks next to it are boarded up as if to conceal their military past.  

Lovers have left scribbled notes in a sentry box, conspiring to turn military might into a trysting turret.

Erfut, the capital of Thuringia, is buzzing.  The Domplatz conceals a vast car park, coaches line up under the citadel, trams clang and clatter round the streets and under the railway station, and a merry Biergarten has been set up beneath the Severikirche.  Giant Thuringian Bratwursts sizzle on a grill and frothing jugs of Köstritzer or Erdinger are raised to the sound of a group of musicians in top hats and tails whose repertoire includes not only lederhosen-slapping drinking songs but also the Wurzels’ greatest hits!

On the way back to the station we find the Predigerkirche, built by the Dominicans in the 13th century.  It is now the most important protestant church in Erfut, and its rather Spartan interior contrasts with the Cathedral’s catholic tastes, but it has a wonderful carved altarpiece.

The organist here from 1678 to 1690 was Johann Pachelbel, who taught Johann Christoph Bach (Johann Sebastian Bach’s eldest brother) and lived in a house which belonged to Johann Christian Bach, not to be confused with Johannes Bach, who had been organist at the Predigerkirche from 1636 to 1673.

Another celebrity name associated with this church is that of Meister Eckhart, now revered by some as a great mystic.  He was Prior here at the end of the thirteenth century, though he was later tried for heresy by Pope John XXII and the Franciscan dominated inquisition.

It is time to take the train back to Weimar, where the mood is very much holiday.  In the Park an der Lim clusters of young people lie about in the grass, 

while in the Theaterplatz older citizens lick ice creams entertained by a senior busker. 

The day closes with more beer.  In Die Altweimarische Bierstube Zum Goethebrunnen strangers become friends and glasses are raised.....  to heaven, Herrentag, and Himmelfahrt!


16 May 2015

TESSERAE -12 - Federico Fellini

Il Maestro....

Federico Fellini
Rimini, January 20th, 1920 – Roma, October 31st 1993

I am in the Grand Hotel, Rimini.  The foyer is bigger than my house and has a polished marble floor.  A classic Italian marble-topped table supports an extravagant display of flowers; marble columns with gilded capitals support a stuccoed ceiling from which hang dazzling chandeliers.  I wait a little, half hoping that Gradisca, the beautiful courtesan from Amacord, will descend the stairs and join me for a Martini on the terrace….  I wait, thinking perhaps that Federico and Giulietta might invite me to dinner…..  I am in the Grand Hotel, Rimini

I am on the terrace of the Grand Hotel, Rimini.  The umbrellas are furled, the tables are clear.  I could sit anywhere.

I am in the garden of the Grand Hotel, Rimini.  Carefully pruned palms and stately pines rise from the neatly tidy lawns.  

I am in the street outside the Grand Hotel, Rimini.  There is a huge camera.  It has Fellinia stamped on it, and graffiti on the lens.  It was given to the Comune di Rimini by Laura Renzi and Ario Rastelli in 2002. The giant camera was built in 1948 by photographer Elio Guerra as a film processing boutique, and it passed to i signori Renzi e Rastelli in the mid 70s. It now stands rather forlornly at the edge of the parco federico fellini, where you may not ride horses, hunt wildfowl, nor camp.

I am on the beach at Rimini.  Images from I Vitelloni and Amarcord fill my imagination, though the beach is quasi vuota……

Il Tempio Malatestiana, Rimini

nulla si sa, tutto s'immagina (one knows nothing, one imagines everything)

Fellini was born in Rimini, on the Adriatic coast, in 1923, but moved south, first to Florence and then to Rome, after his strictly regimented schooling.  As an artist, cartoonist, and screenwriter, he entered the film world, and worked (as scriptwriter) with Roberto Rossellini on Roma città aperta, in 1945.

Federico Fellini died in 1993, aged 73, but his influence is still felt in Italian (and world) cinema.  Recent films such as Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza and Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA are bearers of his imaginative DNA, even though technical aspects of the cinema have changed greatly in the last fifty years.

Sono un artigiano che non ha niente da dire, ma sa come dirlo….  (I am an artisan with nothing to say, though I know how to say it…..)

Fellini’s directorial debut was Lo Sceicco Bianco (The White Sheik) in 1952.  For the record Michaelangelo Antonioni was the original screenwriter and Nino Rota (who became Fellini’s lifelong collaborator) wrote the musical score.  In this film, the part of Cabiria, a prostitute, is played by Giulietta Masina, who he had married in 1943.  They had met when she was chosen to play a character in a radio comedy scripted by Fellini.  Federico died on the day after their fiftieth wedding anniversary; Giulietta joined him less than five months later.

è la curiosità che mi fa svegliare alla mattina  (it’s curiousity that gets me up in the morning)

Fellini followed Lo Sceicco Bianco with I Vitelloni which explores the lives of a group of young men (vitelloni are immature bulls) in Rimini, Fellini’s home town.  This was followed by La Strada in which Giulietta plays Gelsomina, sold by her mother to travelling strong man Zampanò (played by Anthony Quinn).  

This film was the first to win an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film.  A year later, also with Giulietta, he directed Il Bidone, and then, in 1957, Le Notti di Cabiria, (script Romanised by Pier Paolo Pasolini)  for which Fellini also won an Oscar (and Giulietta won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival).

In ten years Fellini had progressed from script writer to Academy Award winning director, and had produced films that are still fêted as amongst the best ever. What was to come, however, was to surprise the world, breaking away from the neorealist world that had itself been an earthquake in cinema history.

I Clowns

The visionary is the only true realist.

In 1960 La Dolce Vita broke box office records, and led to Fellini being spat on in public and denounced by the Vatican.  More famous now for having given us the term paparazzi (journalist Marcello Mastroianni’s photographer friend is named Paparazzo in the film) and for Anita Ekberg’s shower in the Trevi Fountain, the film does not shock as much today as it would have fifty-five years ago, but it is still a brilliant piece of imagination, and certain themes, such as the languid amorality of the super-rich, the susceptibility of some to religious excitement, and the intrusive hunger of the press are not unknown to the contemporary world…..  It is still shocking, too, as when Steiner (Alain Cuny), the intellectual that Rubini (Mastroianni) holds in awe, says, Don't be like me. Salvation doesn't lie within four walls. I'm too serious to be a dilettante and too much a dabbler to be a professional. Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organized society where everything is calculated and perfected….  Not long after this Steiner shoots his two sleeping children and then himself while his wife is out.

Mastroianni took the lead again, this time as a film director at a creative impasse, in Fellini’s greatest work, Otto e mezzo ().  Endlessly inventive, beautifully shot in crisp black and white, and still captivating, this film was rated tenth in the 2012 Sight and Sound list of the greatest films of all time (and only 2001, A Space Odyssey, of the top ten, was made more recently than ).  There’s a self-knowing impishness about this picture, with Guido Anselmi (aka Snaporaz - Marcello Mastroannni) being told, Your sweet naivety is a serious failing.  And towards the end Claudia Cardinale says, You’re such a cheat…. To which he replies, And there’s no film either.  There’s nothing at all anywhere.

The film is not there to be interpreted.  Fellini was exasperated by attempts to decipher meaning.  It isn’t a film to be understood, he once said, it’s to be felt….  Cinema is an art form that doesn’t have space for meditation.  The picture is full of fascinating details, blending seeming reality with dreams and memories, with superimpositions such as the second dream of bath time in his childhood home when Guido imagines himself being bathed by all the women he has known. 

Perhaps this fantasy scene shows us Fellini’s greatest weakness.  In his ideal woman is represented by Claudia Cardinale; in La Dolce Vita she is the sweet girl from the seaside restaurant who believes that Marcello is going to teach her to type, and who waves to him across the water at the end….. Is his attitude to women cynical, satirical or chauvinist? In life Giulietta Masina was his muse, based partly on the fact that she made him laugh (and on her legendary spaghetti al pomodoro)….  I suspect that the scene in Roma in which he attempts to persuade Anna Magnani to be interviewed late at night reveals much about his emotional imagination.  Fellini had worked with Anna Magnani in Roma città aperta and he says that she could be seen as a symbolic representation of Rome.  A Rome seen as a Vestal she-wolf, a ragged aristocrat, a gloomy clown….   She refuses him with, Oh Federi’, I’m far too sleepy now….  He tries to persist; May I ask you a question? But she says, No, I don’t trust you! And firmly closes the door in his face.  This, possibly, shows the insecurity that underlies his fantasy.…..

Fellini also adds subtle references to his own influences, such as the elaborate scene when Guido’s mistress arrives at the Spa.  An enormous train fills the screen with Guido anxiously waiting on the left of the picture.  Various people descend from carriages, but not Carla (Sandra Milo), so Guido starts to turn away, in relief; then the engine reverses away, revealing Carla, who has got off on the wrong side.  

Exactly as Buster Keaton does at River Junction when his father is waiting to meet him early in Steamboat Bill Jnr…….  

And though Sergio Leone may have been referencing Keaton rather than (as well as?) Fellini in Once Upon a Time in the West (also with Claudia Cardinale) the station scene when Harmonica (Charles Bronson) arrives employs exactly the same trick…..  

Guido's parents being directed in the original trailer

Fellini's imaginative invention is also discovered in the ending of . As seen today the entire cast descend the stairway from the rocket launchpad, and then dance around the circus ring, with Guido directing them and then joining in.  Many of the cast are dressed in white.  Fellini shot an alternative ending, which was never used and which has been lost.  In that ending the entire cast, all dressed in white, were in a railway carriage, which eventually entered a tunnel. Apparently this was discarded as it was too pessimistic, with the suggestion of Guido's suicide (though Fellini kept the scene with the pistol under the table.....)  What makes the ending more intriguing, however, is that a version of the stairway and circus ring ending was shot earlier for the original cinema trailer, and in this version the cast were dressed in dark clothes. Somewhere in his imagination the suggestion of death, represented by the white clothed cast disappearing into the tunnel, has merged with the ongoing dance of life round the circus ring, as the white clothes are introduced. Guido's parents (representing Fellini's) appear in both versions.....

The final version - Guido's parents in white

Recently digitally remastered (coinciding with its fiftieth anniversary) the film, which won another Oscar for Fellini yet again as Best Foreign Language Film, is, in the words of François Truffaut, complete, simple, beautiful, honest, or, as Les Cahiers du Cinéma put it,  we must all admit that 8½, leaving aside for the moment all prejudice and reserve, is prodigious. Fantastic liberality, a total absence of precaution and hypocrisy, absolute dispassionate sincerity, artistic and financial courage – these are the characteristics of this incredible undertaking  (Pierre Kast).

what good is giving up my independence, my friends, my roman restaurants, my crazy Italian people, traffic at rush hour by the coliseum? I would have made money and lost my joy of life. and that's all filming has been about for me: joy of life, battle of life, comedy of life, fascination of life. life! life! life! 

Although Fellini continued to dazzle, and in some respects grew more fantastic, few of his works in the last thirty years of his life come close to the brilliance of 8½.  I Clowns (1970), Roma (1972) and Amarcord (1973) are all wonderful in many ways (the ecclesiastical fashion show in Roma, the family day out in Amarcord and the final scene of I Clowns are superb examples of  not only Fellini’s imagination but also his cinematic range) but from Casanova (1976) on I think it fair to say that his star was waning. 

Fellini Satyricon (1969) was perhaps the turning point, when he reached a peak of extravagant invention with colour and visual creativity.  The “autobiographical” trilogy of the early 70s showed his sense of irony and humanity, and explored his own childhood and youth, but it could be thought that his later preoccupation with colour may have sapped his imaginative strength……

When you shoot a film, you don't really know what it is about

I lived in Fellini’s Rome in the 70s and 80s.  Il Maestro would emerge from his flat in Via Margutta and take a morning coffee at Bar Canova on Piazza del Popolo.  Friends and acquaintances (Charlie Borromel, John Francis Lane, et al) were appearing regularly in his films, and it seemed as if everyone would queue at Cinecittà when the call went out for extras. My first encounter with Amarcord was in a cinema d’essai (arthouse cinema) near the Colosseum one Christmas Day.  Two young men in military uniform smoked continuously in the stalls, the blue trails rising in the lazy afternoon, the audience (cumulatively of about five) sleepily submerged in Fellini’s strangely unreal world….

Later I watched as his story unfolded – Orchestra Rehearsal, City of Women (Snaporaz again), And the Ship Sails On… to The Voice of the Moon….  Then, in 1993, at only 73, Il Maestro was felled by a stroke, and ended his days in hospital, dying of a heart attack on October 31st, his death mask snapped on a marble slab by a fan who caused immediate public outrage at the ironic intrusion…. 


And so ended a career of 25 films, four Oscars, and countless other awards.

It comes back to me in the Grand Hotel, Rimini, and on the sands of the empty beach.  It is sad that the photographic kiosk that stands forlornly by the park in his name should be defaced, but perhaps the mischievous scribbles were left by Titta, Patacca and Teo, skipping school on their way to dance on the beach….

The Grand Hotel itself is a memorial to Fellini, with its film set qualities and its ability to stir the imagination, to have visions of what it might be like to be rich, or famous, or powerful….


Those few moments in the foyer, waiting for Gradisca, brought the spirit of Fellini to life for me, and sent me back to Otto e Mezzo, and then to the other films.  Wonderful.  Wonderful…..

And then I go down to the beach, to watch La Rumba…..  Life is a party – let’s live it together!


Pictures from films used solely for illustrative and promotional purposes; not for profit.