With Riccardo Billi, Federico Fellini, Gigi Reder.
Italy/France/West Germany , 1970, DCP, color, 93 min.
Italian, French and German with English subtitles.
DCP source: Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cineteca Nazionale
The Clowns is Fellini’s unabashed tribute to the circus, one of his most enduring fascinations and a foundational influence in his art. Part documentary and part origin story, the film vacillates between lengthy live clown acts, lyrical vignettes dramatizing the early memories Fellini associates with the circus, and fourth-wall-breaking trips to Paris and beyond to track down and interview former practitioners of the vanishing art form. Though finding much to lament about the then-current state of these local spectacles that the director cherished so much as a child, Fellini doesn’t entomb the tradition so much as try to resurrect it with his vibrant staging of boisterous performances, which feature dynamic swoops of the camera across all corners of the circus tent. His second outing for Italian television, The Clowns picks up where A Director’s Notebook left off and further expands upon that film’s freestyle mingling of fiction and documentary.