Fellini’s Satyricon

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Encolpio (Martin Potter) and Ascilto (Hiram Keller) have been friends for some time, but when an argument brews and tempers rise, the two decide to call it quits and head their own separate ways. The stern words come from a disagreement over the ownership of Gitone (Max Born), a young boy the two have known. Once the friends divide their stuff and prepare to split paths, they allow the young man to choose who he goes with, which seems fair enough. Gitone chooses to travel with Ascilto and this drives Encolpio into a depression, in which he almost kills himself, but is spared thanks to some sudden quakes. As time passes and both friends encounter some adventures, they soon find themselves together again, in the midst of yet another off the wall caper. The gents rescue a demigod from a temple, but when things take a tragic turn, Encolpio becomes impotent and that is not good in the least. Now these friends must seek out a cure for this mishap and soon, otherwise who knows what in the heck might happen.

I do like the films of Federico Fellini, but I don’t place him among my personal favorite directors. His visual sense is excellent and he knew how to make a memorable picture, but when visuals are all that he used, I tend to be let down. I do like this film as well as Fellini’s Roma, but I don’t watch either of them often and don’t consider them to be great films in the end. The visuals are downright amazing to be sure, but I wish the storyline and characters were better explored. I can view Satyricon when I am in the mood for a visual treat, but I often find myself noticing the absence of traditional elements, which is not good. I can very much understand why Fellini’s films of this nature are so well liked, but I simply can’t be absorbed into them often, which is why I don’t hold them up with his better efforts. Call me sentimental, but I like to have a better storyline and some good performances to match the intense visuals in movies, at least most of the time. I do recommend Satyricon however and with such a low priced disc here, I think this release is well worth a look, although a rental is in order for first timers.

As per usual, director Federico Fellini conjures up a visual feast, loaded with all sorts of eye candy to take in. This signals good signs to fans of Fellini’s cinema, but those not used to his style might find this to be overindulgent, perhaps even pretentious. There is a basic storyline to be found in Satyricon however, so newcomers to Fellini should feel grounded at the least, even if the story is pushed aside often. In other words, the story and characters are given much screen time, but they always seem to play second fiddle to the lush visuals, which could frustrate non fans of Fellini. But the balance is more even in Satyricon, so I think both fans and newcomers should be pleased in the end. Other films directed by Fellini include And The Ship Sails On, Juliet of the Spirits, La Dolce Vita, Amarcord, Nights of Cabiria, and La Strada. The cast here includes Hiram Keller (Smiles of Gena, Night of the Flowers), Alain Cuny (Emmanuelle, The Red Rose), Martin Potter (The Big Sleep, Satan’s Slave), Max Born, and Capucine (Song Without End, Curse of the Pink Panther).

Video: How does it look?

Fellini Satyricon is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The print used here shows some signs of age, but I was pleased with the overall visual presentation on this release. The slight grain evident has minimal effect on colors and contrast, which is a relief, to say the least. The colors look a little faded, but not that bad and flesh tones seem natural, no errors there in the least to deal with. I found the contrast a little on the light side also, but detail level is still consistent and the image is more than acceptable. I am scoring this one on a harsher scale than usual, due to the visual reliance of the film, but I think fans will be pleased with this transfer.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original Italian audio is presented via a mono track, which means the experience is limited, but it still comes across well enough in the end. The limits of mono are evident here, as the music and sound effects are held back to an extent, but as far as mono goes, this one handles the issues just fine. The dialogue is clean and easy to understand, with minimal volume or age problems to contend with. This disc also houses an English language track, but the volume seems very low on this one, which makes it even more obvious to choose the Italian option. You can also turn on subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, just in case you’ll need them.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer. I am sad to see the “Ciao, Federico” documentary absent from this release, but I suppose we need some reason to hold onto the laserdisc set, right?

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