9. Federico Fellini (1920 – 1993)
In a country marked by the documentary-like films of the neorealism directors, it could be considered ironic that Italy’s most famous director is one teeming with surrealism. But Federico Fellini is not so far removed from the work of Vittorio De Sica, Luchino Visconti and the neorealists before him: Fellini began his career as a writer, collaborating with Roberto Rossellini on the scripts for Paisan and Open City, two landmarks of the movement. But the inspiration for his own work came from life experience.
Fellini’s brief stint with a circus and early work as a caricaturist and cartoonist certainly informed his playful style. Though anchored in personal history, the impetus for his work was based more on his dreams—both waking and sleeping—than in any sort of day-to-day reality. As such, Fellini’s work is
marked by a chimerical quality where everything and everyone is big and exaggerated. Yet, for the most part, his stories were quite accessible, helping him attain his status as a true visionary.
Unlike other directors who dared to be different by executing a new kind of simplicity, the work of Fellini magnified and enlarged all that had been attempted in cinema before. Though many have tried to imitate his style, his vision is too large to duplicate. The most one can hope for is to be deemed “Felliniesque.”