Day 289: I Vitelloni 1953

Day 289

Saturday 14 April 2018   6.53pm

I vitelloni   1953

A Federico Fellini Film

I vitelloni is Fellini’s third film. It’s a straightforward drama about five young men who are drifting through life in a small Italian town. Fausto is a womaniser who has impregnated the local beauty, Sandra.  Morando, Sandra’s brother, follows Fausto around, harbouring ideas of going to the city. Leopoldo wants to be a writer and is trying to find a way to start a career as a playwright. Riccardo wants to be a singer. Alberto hangs out with them, also wandering aimlessly, and is just as unambitious as the rest of them. There seems little hope for any of them escaping their small-town existence. Except for one. It is only Morando who looks to have the hope of a significant future because he breaks away from the group and boards a train taking him away from everything that that small town represents, headed for who knows where? The big smoke? Rome?

I wonder if there is an autobiographical aspect to this story and whether Fellini sees himself as someone from a small town with daydreams of something bigger, somewhere else?

Fausto – a serial adulterer – is reunited with Sandra at the end. If Fellini had any intention of putting hope into the final scene with Fausto and Sandra, it doesn’t make sense to think there is one chance in a million that Fausto could change. He can’t be anyone other than he has been throughout.  Everything we’ve seen and know about his character has told us everything we need to know about Fausto. But Alberto and Morando – they’re more complex characters.

I vitelloni reminds me of the neo-realism of gritty films like Rocco and His Brothers (1955) and Never On Sunday (1960). I’ve always had  the feeling that Fellini films were likes circuses and contained wildly imaginative scenes, full of dream sequences and altered realities. Not with I vitelloni.

Having dreams is not something that comes out very strongly in ‘I vitelloni’. It’s more a film about not having dreams.

– Philip Powers, April 2018