Federico Fellini’s Favorite Films

When looking for great movie suggestions, an excellent resource (besides this website and our Facebook page!) can be the eclectic taste of our favorite filmmakers. In the spirit of our Daily Movie Recommendations, Must See Cinema presents this series of articles, chronicling the “Top Favorite” lists of many of our beloved directors and cinematographers – artists who have give cinephiles like us lifetimes of enjoyment, people who will live forever through their work and contribution to this art! Today’s list will include some of the favorite films of the great Federico Fellini:

Widely regarded as one of the most influential artists in cinema, Italian director Federico Fellini‘s work has a distinct style and magic and is considered a mandatory viewing for anyone with even a budding interest in cinema. Though this is not in any way an attestation to his qualities as a filmmaker and artist, it is worthy of mention that Fellini won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for La Dolce Vita (1960) and was nominated for a total of 12 Academy Awards during his career; he directed four films that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. Many consider Otto e Mezzo / 8 1/2 (1963) to be his Magnum Opus and one of the greatest films of all time. His career spanned many periods in cinema and has had a huge impact on cinema as an art and form of expression.

When asked in a Sight & Sound poll to make a list of his 10 favorite movies, his struggle was evident, as the list far exceeds the sum of 10:

1. The Circus (1928) / City Lights (1931) /Monsieur Verdoux  (1947) – dir. Charlie Chaplin
2. Any of the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy films
3. Stagecoach (1939) dir. John Ford
4. Rashomon (1950) dir. Akira Kurosawa
5. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) dir. Luis Buñuel
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) dir. Stanley Kubrick
7. Paisan (1946) dir. Roberto Rossellini
8. The Birds (1963) dir. Alfred Hitchcock
9. Wild Strawberries (1957) dir. Ingmar Bergman
10. 8 1/2 (1963) dir. Federico Fellini

That is correct. Fellini named his own film, 8 1/2 (1963) as one of his favorites. And rightly so – the film is highly autobiographical, a film about making films and the struggles of the creative process and finding the sense of meaning.

Many of the directors named have an acute taste for the abstract. Following his early neo-realist period, Fellini’s own work reflects that taste, often employing surrealistic imagery and narrative in his work. Also worthy of mention is his apparent appreciation for the classic masters of comedy in cinema – Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

Other early influences on Fellini’s work and style include not just cinema. During his youth years, he was heavily influenced by a popular Italian children’s magazine that reproduced traditional American cartoons – by Winsor McCay, George McManus and Frederick Burr Opper. Later, in the budding years of his screenwriting and in the midst of World War II, he discovered the works of Gogol, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, as well as Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

Some of the films that influenced him during this period were the works of a trio of French directors:

  • Marcel Carné – Port of Shadows (1938), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), The Devil’s Envoys (1942), Children of Paradise (1945);
  • René Clair – The Italian Straw Hat (1928), Under the Roofs of Paris (1930), Le Million (1931), À nous la liberté (1931), I Married a Witch (1942), And Then There Were None (1945);
  • Julien Duvivier – La Bandera (1935), Pépé le Moko (1937), Panique (1947)

After the Allied liberation of Rome on 4 June 1944, Fellini gradually became involved with the Italian Neo-Realism movement, and most particularly with master director Roberto Rossellini.