The Voice of the Moon

Directed by Federico Fellini.
With Roberto Benigni, Paolo Villaggio, Nadia Ottaviani.
Italy/France, 1990, DCP, color, 118 min.
Italian and Japanese with English subtitles.
DCP source: Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cineteca Nazionale

In his extravagant and melancholic swan song, Fellini envisions a small town in the north of Italy gripped by tradition but under siege on all sides by modernity. As a gnocchi festival-cum-beauty pageant dominates the attention of the village people in the cacophonous town square and a mob of leather-clad Gen X-ers rage to Michael Jackson in an abandoned barn in the countryside, wandering poet Ivo Salvini (Roberto Benigni) escapes into his memories, which play like a stream of Amarcord castaways. Tying these buoyant recollections together is Ivo’s quaint concept of the moon as a mother—not to be confused with the literal moon that will later be tugged down to Earth for a cameo appearance at a public forum—who speaks in monosyllabic whispers and provides him counsel through a rapidly developing modern world. Loosely based on Ermanno Cavazzoni’s novel The Lunatics’ Poem, The Voice of the Moon’s narrative tracks Ivo’s growing friendship with the alley-dwelling raconteur Gonnella (Paolo Villaggio), but its procession of jaw-dropping spectacles is justified less by this relationship than by the whims of an aging artist who’s gassing his imagination and memory for one last time.


Part of film series

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The Complete Federico Fellini