The Friday Film – Fellini’s Satyricon


This is not a historical picture, a Cecil B. DeMille picture. It is not even a Fellini picture, in the sense of La Strada, or Nights of Cabiria, or even La Dolce VitaJoanna Paul

Fellini's Satyricon - Soundtrack by Nino Rota
Fellini’s Satyricon – Soundtrack by Nino Rota

Having only discovered Fellini over the past year or so, last night I watched Satyricon for the first time. It’s one of those films that you could pause at any moment and there you have a beautiful painting. If anyone is suffering from artist or writer’s block, I’m pretty sure that a viewing of Satyricon will sort you out!

Viewing this film is certainly more akin to watching a surreal fantasy or science fiction adventure than it is to settling down for a historical tale. The film mostly revolves around a poet, and Ascyltus and Encolpius, sometimes friends, often rivals competing for the affections of a young slave boy.

As viewers, we follow them on their adventures. In a fashion that echoes the even more wonderful director, Jan Svankmajer, Fellini treats us to a sickening feast scene, as we see the sights and are subjected to the sounds of gluttonous eating.

However, Fellini does withhold on showing a scene of cannibalism towards the end of the film, instead leaving us content with watching the faces of the feasters. Satyricon is bathed in an unusual and evocative soundtrack by Nino Rota.

Cruelty runs throughout the film. Encolpius watches a scene from a play in which a man’s hand is actually cut off to gratify the jaded Roman spectators. In another sequence a wealthy man Encolpius has married is decapitated. Nostalgia Central

I began my Fellini adventures in a foolish way, beginning with Casanova, a film so perfect that every Fellini masterpiece that I’ve seen since just can’t quite touch that height – but there’s hope because I have many more to watch, including 8 1/2.

Martin Potter
Hiram Keller
Max Born

Fredrico Fellini



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