Pin It

Fellini: The Great Parade

A retrospective show at the Musée du Jeu de Paume traces the creative trajectory of cinema's most transgressive director

2010 will mark the 50th birthday of Fellini's legendary and iconoclastic film La Dolce Vita. In its honour, the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris is presenting a celebratory retrospective: Fellini: La Grande Parade’ (‘The Great Parade’). This multi-media show carefully traces the construction of the Fellini myth. All of the iconoclastic director's work has consistently shocked and amazed, with its recurring obsessions with the church, demented women and the media. By the time La Dolce Vita was released, Fellini had managed to build his own deranged, glamorous universe of caricature and ardent critique. The films are hard to explain, as they are all marked by the same hazy story line, as the director once noted: “I always direct the same film. I can’t distinguish one from another.”
It is no mean task to convey such well-known work within the medium of an exhibition space. Curator Sam Stourdzé does so by dissecting Fellini’s imagination, and structuring the show under different key sub-sections – music-hall, dreams, the circus (a little known fact is that the film-maker once worked as a circus clown).

An entire section of the show is dedicated to Fellini’s caricatures. He sketched from an early age, and his childhood in stiff Catholic Italy, under the Mussolini era was translated into manic, tongue-in-cheek caricatures of society. These always evoke children’s comics and photo-novellas, which reflects the fact that one of Fellini’s first ever writing jobs was to create the Italian language script for the Flash Gordon comic strip.

The show is brought to life by photographs, segments of films, and presentations of legendary actors, such as the dashing Marcello Mastroiani, or statuesque Anita Ekberg. The eulogy continues with a parallel show in the same museum, by contemporary Italian Artist Francesco Vezzoli, entitled Right You Are (If You Think You Are). Vezzoli celebrates Fellini’s work via an homage to La Dolce Vita called La Nuova Dolce Vita, which recreates one of the key scenes from the original film, with actress Eva Mendez filling in for Anita Ekberg.

On top of that, the Musée du Jeu de Paume is holding conferences throughout the month about cinema, and the Cinémathèque de Paris is screening several of the filmmaker’s pieces until the December 20 – but do we need more film to celebrate film? After all, Fellini himself once said: “Cinema is an old whore, like circus and variety, who knows how to give many kinds of pleasure. Besides, you can't teach old fleas new dogs.”

‘Fellini: La Grande Parade’ at the Musée du Jeu de Paume, place de la Concorde 75008 PARIS, (0033) 1 47 03 12 50 The show closes on the January 17, 2010.