Film and Plot Synopsis
Amarcord is a series of vignettes that capture life in a small seaside Italian during the 1930’s. Set over the course of one year, the film focuses on the misadventures of many of the town’s inhabitants, including the village beauty Gradisca, the town idiot Giudizio, the town nymphomaniac Volpina, the town liar Biscein, the town construction foreman Aurelio, and Aurelio’s son Titta and his schoolfriends. Each character symbolizing a person from director Federico Fellini’s life growing up in the small town of Rimini in pre-World War II Italy.
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Amarcord (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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‘Amarcord’ Movie Summary
Also in attendance are Titta (Bruno Zanin) and his family, consisting of his father Aurelio (Armando Brancia), his mother Miranda (Pupella Maggio), his maternal uncle Lallo (Nando Orfei), and his grandfather (Peppino Ianigro). Titta is a young schoolboy who hangs out with his somewhat wild friends. Shortly after the bonfire, we see Titta and his friends, Gigliozzi (Bruno Lenzi), Ovo (Bruno Scagnetti), and Ciccio (Fernando de Felice), attending school. The boys engage in hijinks in class while listening to boring lessons from their math teacher with a voluptuous chest (Dina Adorni), their biscuit eating art teacher (Fides Stagni), their oblivious religion instructor (Gianfilippo Carcano), and their tongue clicking Italian teacher (Mario Silvestri). Ciccio fantasizes about Aldina (Donatella Gambini) one of the girls in their class, while all the boys masturbate to dreams of both Aldina and Gradisca.
Next, we see Titta eating dinner with his family. Aurelio becomes angry at Titta for his juvenile behavior with his friends, including Titta urinating on a neighbor’s hat. Aurelio chases after Titta who flees from the home. Despite his father’s anger, Titta continues to hang out with his friends, lusting after the ever present Gradisca.
Sometime later, the town is visited by Mussolini’s fascist forces. TItta’s uncle and most of the boy’s teachers proudly display their loyalty to Il Duce by wearing their uniforms during a town parade. Ciccio daydreams about marrying Aldina in front of Mussolini’s giant paper mache head. That night, the Fascist forces party in the town until someone begins playing a gramophone record of the anti-fascist song Internationale from the church tower. The Fascists shoot the gramophone, destroying it. They begin to investigate who planted the gramophone in the tower. The investigation focuses on Aurelio due to his anti-fascist beliefs. The Fascist beat Aurelio and force him to drink castor oil, causing him to defecate himself. However, they allow him to live. Lallo is the person who turned Aurelio in.
Next, the film shows a series of events centered around the Grand Hotel. Town liar Biscein recounts a story of him having sex with twenty-eight women from a visiting sultan’s harem. Gradisca remembers a time where she is encouraged to sleep with a visiting Fascist high official in return for government funds to rebuild the town’s harbor. The hotel also serves as a base of operations for Lallo and his friends to seduce female tourists during the summer months while Titta and his friends look on from the bushes.
Soon after, Titta and his family visit Titta’s Uncle Teo (Ciccio Ingrassia) who lives at an insane asylum. The family takes Teo to picnic in the country. However, Teo climbs a tall tree and begins screaming that he wants a woman. The family attempts to get him down from the tree, but Teo throws rocks at them which prevents them from getting close. The family calls the hospital who sends out a small nurse who some how coerces Teo to come down. Teo says goodbye to his family as the nurse and staff take him back to the asylum.
Next, the inhabitants of the town all embark on a sea voyage in small boats to the see the S.S. Rex, a large Italian made passenger ship that is passing near the town. Everyone floats on their boats in the ocean waiting for the ship to appear. Near midnight, the ship finally appears after many of the citizens have fallen asleep. They cheer and weep as the ship passes in the night, overcome by the ship’s majesty.
Sometime later, Titta and his friends watch an annual car race as it drives through town. The boys daydream about winning the race. Titta envisions himself capturing the attention of Gradisca, while Ciccio fantasizes about not picking Aldina having been spurned by her several times. Soon after, Titta goes to tobacconist to get a cigarette. Although near closing, the tobacconist allows the boy to attempt to pick her up. The tobacconist becomes sexually aroused while Titta becomes exhausted. She exposes her breasts and tells Titta to suckle on them. Already winded, Titta attempts to comply, but soon struggles for air. Unsatisfied, the tobacconist sends the young boy away with a free cigarette.
As winter descends, Titta falls ill and is tended by his worried mother. Miranda gets a doctor to help her son, but it is revealed that she is ill as well. Soon after, a heavy snow falls on the town, burying it in several feet of snow. Titta visits his sick mother in the hospital who tells him that he needs to grow up. After leaving the hospital, Titta pursues an unaware Gradisca through the maze of snow banks. He engages in a snow ball fight with his friends, his uncle Lallo, and Gradisca until a peacock mysteriously appears and captures everyone’s attention with its beauty.
A few days later, Titta awakes in his home to learn that his mother has died. The young boy breaks down and cries in his mother’s bedroom. After the funeral, he walks out of the church to find the puffballs have returned, drifting on the wind. A short time later, many of the townspeople attend Gradisca’s marriage to an Italian officer. Titta is not in attendance, and one of the party goers states that the young boy has gone away. The film ends with Gradisca driving off with her new husband as the blind accordion player plays a tune.
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New World Pictures released Amarcord on September 19, 1974. Federico Fellini directed the film starring Magali Noël, Bruno Zanin, and Pupella Maggio.