Monday, August 23, 2010

#81: Variety Lights

(Federico Fellini and Alberto Lattuada, 1950)

Variety Lights is a good film, but the only reason it sits in the collection is that it represents Federico Fellini's first film as a director (though he co-directed it with the already-established but now-eclipsed Alberto Lattuada). It's maybe more relevant than other film debuts because so many of Fellini's themes were already present. The film's subjects are stage performers living hand to mouth, traveling from town to town putting on a show for the natives, and like his other films Fellini uses them to address issues of outcasts, pain associated with love, and the troubles associated with aiming for the stars a little too high.

The story of the film is very simple, but unlike the similarly basic La Strada lacks a significant emotional punch. The film's characters don't really stretch beyond their expected emotional range, and the ending is not a surprise, and in fact feels like a predetermined fate. It all makes for a movie that ends up being relevant only really to Fellini fans, few of whom I would think would single this film out as their third or fourth favorite film by the director, let alone his best.

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