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Wonderful photography in Federico Fellini’s movies

April 26, 2020
Federico Fellini photography

I love the great director Federico Fellini. He filmed many movies with stories set in Italy, usually about society. His characters are interesting, sometimes realistic sometimes caricature. I watched masterpiece as La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, I vitelloni, Amarcord and Roma. I love actors like Marcello Mastroianni and Alberto Sordi. His early films are more realist while the latest ones more surreal. But the Fellini’s cinema is not only about great stories and characters but also about a great cinematography and direction. In particular in this article I’d like to talk about photography in Federico Fellini’s movies. I’m very interested in his cinematography because sequences filmed in the streets remind me scenes of pure street photography. Technically he spaced from minimalism to complex compositions, from realism to surrealism. He used also silhouettes like the famous scene in 8 1/2. His cinematography is poliedric. I’ve posted here few examples.

The silhouette

I’ve posted here probably the most iconic silhouette in Fellini’s movies. This is 8 1/2, the film of his maturity, his testament in such way. Fellini uses the silhouette giving elegance and nimbleness to the scene. The shape are perfect, background is is lighted to stand out shadows. Great contrast and equilibrium. The man in the background creates more depth.

Federico Fellini photography
8 1/2

Surrealism

Latest works are more surreal than early ones. In my opinion 8 1/2 is the best movie he ever shot, this is a masterpiece of surrealism with many dreamlike and iconic scenes like the first one, my favorite sequence probably. Strange situations, heads cut off, unusual points of view, unreal silence, mystery and so on… I’ve posted below two frames extracted from first sequence of 8 1/2.

Federico Fellini photography
8 1/2

Federico Fellini photography

This second one is also an example of elegant scene composition with geometrical lines and minimalism. This is the same dreamlike sequence of previous frame.

Federico Fellini photography
8 1/2

Federico Fellini photography

Minimalism

In such way we have just talked about minimalism in Federico Fellini’s movies in silhouette and surrealism examples. But I want post here another nice frame taken always from 8 1/2, a movie with a great cinematography. The small persons under this ancient architectures remind me places painted in Giorgio De Chirico’s canvas.

Federico Fellini photography
8 1/2

Composition and complexity of the scene

We’ve talked about elegant and minimal scenes with few elements but Federico Fellini’s cinematography is characterized also by complex frames with many elements in different layers.

Look at this picture, there are many people in the same scene; the camera avoids overlapping between different faces. Each person is visible, there is an order in the disorder.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini photography

Again multiple elements/people without overlapping between different faces. Scene is simplified by a “clean and homogeneous” background. Photographers seem to be a single heterogeneous mass.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Contrapposition between foreground and background, main subject in foreground.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini photography

Multi-layer, perspective, depth of the scene, complexity. Again main subjects in foreground.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini photography

Triangular compositions remind me photos taken by Joseph Koudelka.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini photography

Low key

Fellini shoted many scenes at night and in interior. This is true mostly for La Dolce Vita a movie about vices and night parties with bored riches. Dark photography as the dark lifes and emotions of various characters in the movie. I like the low-key style with depth shadows and thin shades of lights that shape things and people on the set.

Federico Fellini photography
8 1/2
Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita
Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita
Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

His cinematography works well also in color, this is a frame extracted from his wonderful and famous Amarcord. Technically this sequence in low key set in a cinema is one of the most interesting of the whole movie

Federico Fellini photography
Amarcord

A frame within the frame

A classic in street photography and cinema but also in painting. A frame within the frame another tencique used by Federico Fellini in his movies.

Federico Fellini photography
La Dolce Vita

Federico Fellini photography

But I want to quote the directors of photography in Fellini’s movies (only films posted in this article); together with the director they are the makers of these beautiful images full of life.

Otello Martelli – La dolce vita

Gianni Di Venanzo – 8 1/2

Giuseppe Rotunno – Amarcord

That’s all folks

 Stay well, have always light in your life

Best, F.S

Read previous article about red in art, painting and cinema here

Orange in cinema

read also: Blade Runner 2049 cinematography

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