Italian film director and screenwriter. His work has been a major influence on modern cinema. Many of his films combine dream and fantasy sequences with satire and autobiographical detail. They include I vitelloni/The Young and the Passionate (1953), La strada/The Road (1954), Le notti di Cabiria/Nights of Cabiria (1956), La dolce vita/The Sweet Life (1960), 81/2 (1963), Giulietta degli spiriti/Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Amarcord (1973), and Ginger e Fred/Ginger and Fred (1986).
Fellini was one of the most celebrated directors the Italian cinema has produced, and achieved near-legendary status in his home country. His significance as a film director was instrumental in establishing the artistic authenticity of film-making. His two most famous films, La dolce vita and 81/2, are daring in both form and content and rank among the classics of world cinema. Over the course of his career Fellini received numerous awards for his films, including eight Academy Awards. He was presented with a special Academy Award for his life's work in 1993.
Fellini was born in the Adriatic resort of Rimini, where he grew up amid the fairgrounds and circuses which were later to be central to his films. He went to Rome as a young man, ostensibly to study law, but in fact to pursue a piecemeal early career as a reporter and cartoonist. After World War II he drifted into films as a scriptwriter and assistant director as the result of a meeting with the neo-realist film-maker Roberto Rossellini. He got his first chance to direct in 1951, but it was his third film, I vitelloni, based on recollections of his home-town youth, that established his reputation. This was quickly consolidated by La strada, featuring Giulietta Masina (his wife from 1943 to his death) as the maid of a travelling entertainer.
Le notti di Cabiria elaborated on similar bittersweet themes, with Masina as a childlike prostitute. La dolce vita clinched Fellini's standing as a major international director. Described by him as a fresco, it contained an almost plotless succession of episodes from Roman high and low life, and provoked some scandal. 81/2 was even more subjective in content, and baroque in style, dealing with the creative crisis of a film director (played by Marcello Mastroianni) unambiguously modelled on Fellini himself. The films that followed, Satyricon (1970), Roma (1972), and Amarcord, were dazzlingly inventive in exploring the director's memories, fantasies, and preoccupations, though some observers viewed them as increasingly self-indulgent. On the whole, the films of his later years, such as La città delle donne/The City of Women (1981), proved less fully achieved. Intervista (1987) is a filmed interview about film-making. His last film was Le voce della Luna/The Voices of the Moon (1990).
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