Fellini's bawdy coming-of-age film is brilliant but mature.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amarcord, one of Fellini's best movies and one of the most evocative coming-of-age stories ever made, does not flinch from frank sexual content. For example, in one scene, four boys in their early teens sit in a car and masturbate, moaning the names of women they're fantasizing about. In another scene, a woman sits on a teen boy's lap and shoves her exposed breasts into his face, ordering him to suck and kiss them. Several characters smoke (including teen boys in one scene) and there's some social drinking, too. Language (subtitled) is strong throughout, including "f--k," "a--hole," and more. For mature adults, Amarcord is a timeless celebration of the intersections between life, dreams, imagination, and memory.
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What's the Story?
AMARCORD is a collection of instances chronicling one year in an Italian seaside village during the Fascist rule of the 1930s under Mussolini. Through scenes, narrative voiceovers, and characters speaking directly to the camera, the different characters reveal their lives, their aspirations, and their fantasies. What emerges in the interweaving vignettes is a bittersweet evocation of the past, as much a coming-of-age story about a pubescent boy and his rambunctious friends as it is a recollection of otherwise ordinary adults caught up in the confusion of fascism. The coming-of-age story and the nostalgic glimpse into the past is a mainstay of cinema -- but in Fellini's treatment of the subjects, the result is sublime and wholly original.
Is It Any Good?
For coming-of-age films and filmmaker's nostalgic glimpses into their childhoods, Fellini's Amarcord is as good as it gets. These oft-used genres and subject matters become wholly original, bittersweet, and unforgettable. Instead of nostalgia for place (anytime one of the characters, The Lawyer, attempts to lecture the audience on the town's storied history, he is greeted with fart noises or snowballs from fellow townspeople), or time (a scene where townspeople gather to pay tribute to Il Duce transforms into a fantasy sequence where one of the teen boys dreams of marrying the object of his affections), but of people.
This isn't a straightforward narrative, but a series of instances and recollections (Amarcord means "I Remember" in Italian) where teachers and priests seem just as oppressive as the dictator running the country. Sexually frustrated teen boys, fruit vendors with filled with farfetched stories of their adventures, mentally unstable uncles, seductive older women, and pontificating lawyers capture the eccentricities and passions of the moment, but the magic of Amarcord is when it moves far beyond nostalgia into the realm of universal human experience.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about coming-of-age films. How is this movie similar to and different from other coming-of-age films?
The film does not stay on one character, but shows many different characters living their lives and telling their stories. How does this approach affect your attachment to the characters and the story?
Where does the film reflect a specific time and place, and where does the film reflect more universal themes of humanity?
- In theaters: September 19, 1974
- On DVD or streaming: April 1, 1998
- Cast: Armondo Brancia, Magali Noel, Pupella Maggio
- Director: Federico Fellini
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Genre: Classic
- Topics: History
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Award: Academy Award
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Gritty yet beautiful coming-of-age film too dark for kids.
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For kids who love great stories
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