Italy 1963, 138 mins
Director: Federico Fellini

Back in the 1960s heyday of the pre-video art-house sector, two filmmakers stood as defining poles of the foreign-language art movie – Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. Their qualities complemented and contrasted with each other’s perfectly: Bergman Nordic, serious, austere, locked in a grim struggle with the grey spectre of the Lutheran deity; Fellini exuberant, Mediterranean, expansive, forever poking fun at the wilder excesses of Catholicism. (Although, by strange coincidence, each ended one of his best-known films – The Seventh Seal and respectively – with the same image, albeit to startlingly different effect: a chain of people dancing along with hands interlinked.) Neither director now enjoys the critical status he did 40 years ago. But while Bergman remains a respected figure, even if his films are relatively rarely shown these days, Fellini has suffered a crueller fate, widely dismissed as sentimental, overblown and self-indulgent, a filmmaker snared by his own intellectual and aesthetic pretensions.

This isn’t the kind of critical downgrading that regularly follows a creative artist’s death. The process started well within Fellini’s lifetime, indeed almost coincided with the commercial peak of his career. Even at the time of his Oscar-nominated box-office triumphs La dolce vita (1960) and (1963) there were disenchanted mutterings that he was losing his way, cutting himself off from the neorealist roots that had so richly nourished him. But if these accusations were justified, the process was entirely deliberate on Fellini’s part: the whole first half of his career can be seen as a determined campaign to break free from the fetters of neo-realism and assert his own vision. With , the most personal film he had made up to that point, the break was complete.

The central character of is film director Guido Anselmi, played by Marcello Mastroianni and presented unmistakably as Fellini’s surrogate. Guido repeatedly finds himself assailed by critics and reporters; the former reproach him for intellectual frivolity while the latter assail him with idiotic questions. ‘Are you for or against divorce?’ yell the press pack. ‘Are you afraid of the atomic bomb? Do you believe in God? Why don’t you make love stories?’

Meanwhile, the most persistent of his critics, his screenwriter Daumier, tells Guido that ‘Your film lacks the qualities of the avant-garde but has all its failings.’ At one point Fellini maliciously has Daumier led away and hanged, but it doesn’t silence him; he returns unharmed to resume the assault. ‘Your tender innocence is completely negative,’ he sneers, ‘your little memories bathed in nostalgia, inoffensive emotional reactions.’ Guido’s only defence is to hide behind disingenuous statements. ‘I wanted to make an honest film,’ he pleads, ‘that would help everyone to bury everything that was dead inside us… I’ve nothing to say – but I want to say it anyway.’

Fellini’s own comments on the film weren’t so very different, similarly appealing to the emotions over the intellect. ‘I don’t like the idea of “understanding” a film,’ he said. ‘I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need to have it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it.’
Philip Kemp, Sight & Sound, August 2004

Director: Federico Fellini
Production Companies: Cineriz di Angelo Rizzoli, Francinex
Created by: Federico Fellini
Produced by/Presented by: Angelo Rizzoli
Production Supervisor: Clemente Fracassi
Production Manager: Nello Menicon
Unit Manager: Mario Basili
Production Secretaries: Albino Morandin, Angelo Iacono
2nd Unit Director: Alessandro von Normann
Artistic Collaborator: Brunello Rondi
Assistant Director: Guidarino Guidi
2nd Assistant Directors: Giulio Paradisi, Francesco Aluigi
Continuity: Mirella Gamacchio
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi
Story: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano
Director of Photography: Gianni Di Venanzo
Camera Operator: Pasqualino De Santis
Editor: Leo Catozzo
Assistant Editor: Adriana Olasio
Art Director: Piero Gherardi
Assistant Art Director: Luciano Ricceri
Set Dresser: Vito Anzalone
Costumes: Piero Gherardi
Assistant Costumes: Orietta Nasalli Rocca
Wardrobe Mistress: Clara Poggi
Key Make-up: Otello Fava
Hairstyles: Renata Magnanti
Hairdressers: Eugenia, Filippo
Colour Grader: Enzo Verzini
Music: Nino Rota
Sound: Mario Faraoni, Alberto Bartolomei
Music Publisher: CAM
Prints/Processing: Istituto Nazionale LUCE
Negatives: Dupont
Studio: Titanus-Appia

Still Photographer: Tazio Secchiaroli

Marcello Mastroianni (Guido Anselmi, the director)
Claudia Cardinale (Claudia, the star-actress)
Anouk Aimée (Luisa Anselmi, Guido’s wife)
Sandra Milo (Carla, Guido’s mistress)
Rossella Falk (Rossella, Luisa’s friend)
Barbara Steele (Gloria Morin, Mario’s fiancée)
Madeleine LeBeau (Madeleine, French actress)
Caterina Boratto (unnamed woman in harem)
Edra Gale (La Saraghina)
Guido Alberti (Commendatore Pace, the producer)
Mario Conocchia (Conocchia, production manager)
Bruno Agostini (Agostini, 2nd production secretary)
Cesare Miceli Picardi (Cesarino, 1st production secretary)
Jean Rougeul (Fabrizio Carini, film critic)
Mario Pisu (Mario Mezzabotta, Gloria’s friend)
Yvonne Casadei (Jacqueline Bon Bon, ageing soubrette)
Ian Dallas (Maurice, the mind-reader)
Mino Doro (Claudia’s agent, ‘Super Tarzan’)
Nadine Sanders (Nadine, air hostess)
Georgia Simmons (Guido’s grandmother)
Hedy Vessel (Hedy, harem woman with costume changes)
Tito Masini (the cardinal)
Annie Gorassini (Pace’s girlfriend)
Rossella Como (Tilde, Luisa & Rossella’s friend)
Mark Herron (Luisa’s timid admirer)
Marisa Colomber (Guido’s aunt)
Neil Robinson (French actress’s agent)
Elisabetta Catalano (Luisa’s sister)
Eugene Walter (American journalist)
Hazel Rogers (dancer in Guido’s harem)
Gilda Dahlberg (American journalist’s wife)
Mario Tarchetti (Poletti, Claudia’s press representative)
Mary Indovino (Maya, mind-reader’s partner)
Frazier Rippy (the cardinal’s lay secretary)
Francesco Rigamonti (Enrico, Luisa’s friend)
Giulio Paradisi (friend)
Marco Gemini (Guido as a boy at school)
Giuditta Rissone (Guido’s mother)
Annibale Ninchi (Guido’s father)

John Karlsen (man in car/priest on beach)
Roberto Nicolosi (doctor 1)
Alfredo De La Feld (the cardinal’s 1st secretary)
Sebastiano Di Leandro (the cardinal’s 2nd secretary)
Palma Mangini (ageing relative from the country)
John Stacy (the production accountant)
Riccardo Guglielmi (Guido as a little boy)
Roberta Valli (old man’s grandchild)
Maria Raimondi (Guido’s 2nd aunt)
Eva Gioia (Eva, girl in Cesarino’s bed)
Dina De Santis (Dina, girl in Cesarino’s bed)
Maria Tedeschi (school principal)
Luciana Sanseverino (patient taking waters at the spa)
Luciano Bonanni (fakir Siva announcer)
Olimpia Cavalli (Miss Olympia in screen test)
Maria Antonietta Beluzzi (screen test candidate for La Saraghina)
Matilda Calnan (elderly journalist)
Ferdinando Guillaume (clown in parade)
Elisabetta Cini (the cardinal in sketches)
Valentina Lang
Annarosa Lattuada
Agnese Bonfanti
Flaminia Torlonia
Anna Carimini
Maria Wertmüller
Giulio Calí (man with mushrooms)
Antonio Acqua
Sonia Gessner
Edward Flemming
John Francis Lane

Italy/France 1963
138 mins

Breathless (À bout de souffle)
Wed 1 Feb 14:30; Tue 14 Feb 20:50; Fri 24 Feb 18:20
Le Mépris (Contempt)
Wed 1 Feb 18:10; Fri 17 Feb 20:50
Daughters of the Dust
Wed 1 Feb 18:15; Thu 16 Feb 20:30
Sans Soleil
Wed 1 Feb 20:40; Fri 17 Feb 18:00
M (Mörder unter uns)
Thu 2 Feb 14:30; Thu 16 Feb 20:40; Wed 22 Feb 18:00
Thu 2 Feb 20:45; Tue 14 Feb 20:30
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Fri 3 Feb 20:40; Sun 5 Feb 20:40; Sat 18 Feb 18:10
Battleship Potemkin (Bronenosets Potemkin)
Sat 4 Feb 12:40; Sat 18 Feb 18:30
La dolce vita
Sat 4 Feb 14:15; Sat 25 Feb 19:30
Sherlock Jr.
Sat 4 Feb 17:20; Sat 11 Feb 11:45
City Lights
Sat 4 Feb 17:20; Sat 11 Feb 11:45
Sat 4 Feb 20:10; Wed 15 Feb 20:10
North by Northwest
Sat 4 Feb 20:20; Thu 9 Feb 18:00
Sun 5 Feb 12:15; Tue 14 Feb 18:30; Wed 22 Feb 14:30
Rear Window
Sun 5 Feb 12:20; Fri 24 Feb 20:45
Sun 5 Feb 17:40; Tue 7 Feb 20:10; Sun 26 Feb 14:00
Mon 6 Feb 20:30; Sun 12 Feb 13:20
Mon 6 Feb 20:45; Mon 20 Feb 14:30; Thu 23 Feb 20:40
8 1/2 (Otto e mezzo)
Tue 7 Feb 18:00; Tue 21 Feb 14:30; Sun 26 Feb 12:50
The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri)
Tue 7 Feb 18:10; Sat 25 Feb 11:50
News from Home
Tue 7 Feb 20:45; Fri 17 Feb 18:20 (+ intro)
Rashomon (Rashômon)
Tue 7 Feb 21:00; Thu 23 Feb 18:20
The Piano
Wed 8 Feb 20:35; Tue 21 Feb 17:50
Thu 9 Feb 20:30 (+ intro by Jason Wood, BFI Executive Director of Public Programmes & Audiences); Sat 18 Feb 18:20
Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf)
Thu 9 Feb 20:55; Mon 27 Feb 18:00
Ordet (The Word)
Fri 10 Feb 18:15; Sat 25 Feb 14:30
The 400 Blows (Les Quatre cents coups)
Fri 10 Feb 20:50; Sun 19 Feb 18:40
Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette)
Sat 11 Feb 11:50; Mon 20 Feb 20:55; Thu 23 Feb 14:30
Barry Lyndon
Sat 11 Feb 19:20; Sat 25 Feb 15:30
Some Like It Hot
Sun 12 Feb 13:30; Tue 14 Feb 18:10
The Third Man
Sun 12 Feb 18:30; Tue 21 Feb 20:40
Killer of Sheep
Sun 12 Feb 18:40 (+intro); Sat 18 Feb 20:40
Mirror (Zerkalo)
Mon 13 Feb 20:50; Tue 28 Feb 20:50
Pather Panchali
Sat 18 Feb 20:30; Tue 21 Feb 20:35; Sun 26 Feb 15:45
The Apartment
Wed 22 Feb 20:35; Sun 26 Feb 12:40

Never miss an issue with Sight and Sound, the BFI’s internationally renowned film magazine. Subscribe from just £25*
*Price based on a 6-month print subscription (UK only). More info:

Welcome to the home of great film and TV, with three cinemas and a studio, a world-class library, regular exhibitions and a pioneering Mediatheque with 1000s of free titles for you to explore. Browse special-edition merchandise in the BFI Shop.We're also pleased to offer you a unique new space, the BFI Riverfront – with unrivalled riverside views of Waterloo Bridge and beyond, a delicious seasonal menu, plus a stylish balcony bar for cocktails or special events. Come and enjoy a pre-cinema dinner or a drink on the balcony as the sun goes down.

Enjoy a great package of film benefits including priority booking at BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals. Join today at

We are always open online on BFI Player where you can watch the best new, cult & classic cinema on demand. Showcasing hand-picked landmark British and independent titles, films are available to watch in three distinct ways: Subscription, Rentals & Free to view.

See something different today on

Join the BFI mailing list for regular programme updates. Not yet registered? Create a new account at

Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email