Satyricon (1969)













"Satryicon" or "Fellini Satryicon" is the director at his most defiantly colorful. Here we see Fellini taking all the gloves off and making a very vibrant, albeit confusing and dissatisfying film.
The movie, which seems to be Voltaire-esque in construct, tells the story of one man. What the man is striving for changes throughout the movie. For much of the first part, he's searching for love...for the entire second part, he's just trying to survive.
A student named Encolpio (Martin Potter) opens the film, which feels very much like a play—something that makes sense since the film is based on Petronius' book. There are glances straight at the audience, morbidly dramatic pacing, and fights with other men. Encolpio is angry because he's lost his boy...there's no other way to put it. He has a slave/lover that he cherished greatly and his fellow student stole him away. Hell-bent on retrieving his love, Encolpio confronts his cohort, Ascilto (Hiram Keller) who has sold the boy to an actor.
After going through the pain-staking effort of fetching the young boy back—many comments are made about the boy's androgynous appearance and his beauty—Encolpio is crushed when the boy opts to travel with Ascilto instead.
Then...the earthquake.
Random, sexual, colorful, original, bold, unashamed, and completely confusing—"Satryicon" is a master-class in sucking up....let me explain.
Fellini is one of the master directors. He holds company with the greats—Kubrick, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, and Bergman—thus every movie he's made is now viewed as a classic.
"Satyricon" is no classic...it's kind of hard to even engage with the movie while you're watching it.
It draws much of its inspiration from Greek myths, though the majority of its characters speak Italian. There are demi-gods, poets, warriors, scholars, orgies, Homer reenactments, jokes about erectile dysfunction...it's quite hectic.
As such, you would have to go through the entire movie with a pencil and comb it for the juicy details, and that's something that I'm not willing to do.
"Satyricon" is simply a quest, an odyssey; but it's so weird and so Fellini that it makes you feel acutely aware that you're watching a film.
The vagrant portrayal of homoeroticism is something that's unusual to see from this time period; but the movie is hardly trying to be political. Fellini's talent does shine through all the oddity, and it does make the film entertaining at least...but that's just for me.
I can understand those who say it's a masterpiece—I think they're wrong, but whatever—and I can also see how people could think that "Satyricon" is the dirge of Fellini's career. For me, the film falls somewhere between the two, but in spite of everything the movie had going on, I actually kind of enjoyed it.









Score: ★★★

1 comment:

  1. Those who will be in the San Francisco Bay Area during mid-October (2014) can see 'Fellini Satyricon' as part of an 'Altered Realities' film series being shown Friday evenings in October at the Mechanics Institute Library:

    http://www.milibrary.org/events/cinemalit-film-series

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