Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Fellini's Casanova

Federico Fellini

2h 30mins
© Carlotta Films

View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

Fellini's Casanova is a free adaptation of the memoirs of Casanova made in 1976 with Donald Sutherland in the title role. It was one of Federico Fellini's greatest superproductions, filmed entirely in the Cinecittà studios: 1,000 costumes, 600 wigs, a 200-strong technical team, 2,500 extras and an enormous budget. It won the Oscar for best costumes in 1976.

For 2½ hours, Casanova is portrayed as a willing victim of his reputation, skipping from one amorous liaison to the next in a Europe in the grip of a decadent aristocracy. He tries unsuccessfully to stave off his boredom and in the process the pleasures of the flesh are relegated to mere gymnastics in the company of staggeringly well-formed partners who are about as expressive as blow-up dolls.

When the film came out, it was not very well received by the critics, who were puzzled by the excessiveness of the characters and sets and by the lengthy running time. It has since been considered by some to be one of Fellini's masterpieces.

"Initially, I had thought of giving the role to Gian Maria Volonté (...) But successive schedule slippages had resulted in breaches of contract. So I assigned the role of Casanova to Donald Sutherland, a sperm-filled waxwork with the eyes of a masturbator: as far removed as you could imagine from an adventurer and seducer like Casanova, but nonetheless a serious, studied, professional actor." (extract from an interview with Fellini—free translation from the French)

The artist

Federico Fellini, an Italian film director, was born into a middle-class family in Rimini in 1920. Drawn to journalism and newspaper cartoons, he moved to Rome in 1939. After the war, he made his cinema debut as a sceenwriter under a number of Neorealist directors including Roberto Rossellini and Alberto Lattuada. He began making his own films in the early 1950s (Variety Lights, The White Sheik, I Vitelloni) and had his first success with La Strada starring his wife Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn. Fellini won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960 for La Dolce Vita with Marcello Mastroianni (who was to become his actor of choice) and the curvaceous Anita Ekberg. With , he moved away from realist cinema in favor of portrayals of his own memories, fantasies or fantasized memories in dream-like films (Satyricon, Roma, Amarcord, Fellini's Casanova, City of Women, And the Ship Sails On, etc.). In these films, he sets a joyful, provocative style that went against the cinematographic customs of the day: he continued to shoot in the studio (Cinecittà) and took malicious pleasure in demonstrating cinematographic effects in sequences whose excesses became his trademark, to the extent that the word "Fellinian" has entered the language as a way of describing any extravagant character or situation. He died in Rome in 1993 after receiving an Oscar for his lifetime achievement.