|A scene from Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories"|
Tonight I watched the film, "Woody Allen: A Documentary." I was not expecting a connection to Italian cinema but since one usually ends up presenting itself, tonight was no different.
|A scene from Federico Fellini's "8 1/2"|
|Ettore Scola directs his grandson, Tommaso Lazotti, as a young Fellini|
The qualities I feel are the strongest between the two
filmmakers are taking an average character and putting him into a completely
surreal fantasy world, the diversity of stories ranging from comedy to love to
tragedy and the strong presence of the muse in their work- For Fellini, it was
Marcello Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina, his wife of 50 years, the city of Rome and
the Romans. For Allen it was (in the '70s and '80s) Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow- with whom he had relationships, the island of
Manhattan and New Yorkers. It is noted in Scola’s documentary that “Fellini
adopted Mastroianni as an ideal alter-ego in his main films. In fact, he took
better care of him than he did himself: forcing physical exercise and diets on
him that he himself never did”. In Allen’s documentary, he talks about his
closeness with Keaton and how her friendship gave him the ability to see life from a
|"Woody Allen: A Documentary"|
|Ettore Scola and Federico Fellini|
Another aspect of these masters’ films that I appreciate is their way with music and how it's a protagonist of its own- for me most notably in Allen’s opening scene of "Manhattan" with Gershwin’s "Rhapsody in Blue"...
... and Fellini’s closing scene of "8 ½" with Nino Rota’s "La passerella"..
On that note, Scola, also a master screenwriter and director, beautifully ended "How Strange to Be Named Federico" with Rota’s signature circus-like melody in a collage of powerful images from his films with Alberto Sordi and Mastroianni. It reminded me of the equally beautiful scene from John Huston's 1952 "Moulin Rouge" in the very final moments of artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's life when that signature can can music plays with the images of his friends and muses.
With each of these scenes, I was struck by an explosion of nostalgia which made me ponder the great question of Woody Allen and the reoccurring theme of his films, why can’t life be eternal? Surely we are not eternal, but one thing is for sure.. the magic of cinema.