Fellini’s mercurial remembrance of things past, specifically his fictionalized Rimini childhood, is a dictionary of visionary spare parts: a motorcyclist who roars through the city at intervals, a mad uncle who climbs a tree and bays for a woman, a protagonist (Titta) who nearly drowns in a shop owner’s Herculean cleavage.
Lovely — though at times wildly episodic — “Amarcord” is true to its amalgamated name: amaro means bitter, ricordo is memory. It’s a 1930s period piece conjured to suit both Fellini’s infinite eccentricity and a view of day-to-day life with la mamma, a loving but stern father, the local prostitute (called Volpina), absurdly pompous Fascists, and masturbating age-mates.
As always, Fellini produces incomparable moments. One includes townsfolk rowing out into the Adriatic to watch the Italian liner “Rex,” built by Fellini’s craftsmen from celluloid strips.
In all, it’s a homage to the incipient bright lights, big-city future it would take a war to reach.