DIRECTOR: Federico Fellini
SCREENPLAY: Federico Fellini, Bernadino Zapponi
STARRING: Donald Sutherland, Tina Mount, Cicely Brown
RUNNING TIME: 148 mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams
There have been a number of notable adaptations of Casanova’s memoirs (the best, perhaps surprisingly, for television thanks to Dennis Potter in 1971 and Russell T Davies in 2005). The significant difference in Fellini’s approach is his cold, antagonistic view of the man himself. In Donald Sutherland’s big-nosed renaissance man we find very little charm or romance. He is a man who wishes to be famous for anything but his prowess as a lover (which is considerable, he can even have sex with his long-johns still on).
We’re presented with a failure and a lonely creature, at one point suicidal at another, touchingly flustered by bumping into his mother at the theatre, a woman he barely knows and has no wish to know him. He wanders the surreal, theatrical worlds of Rome’s Cinécitta studios, rowing his boat across seas made of black plastic sheets, his only constant companion, an automaton owl that he activates during lovemaking.
Dreamy, beautiful, haunting and absurd, it’s the story of a unfulfilled man wishing to be something more but perpetually falling short. Perhaps, in that, there’s something of Fellini’s Casanova in all of us.
The blu-ray offers an excellent reproduction of the movie, thanks to label Mr Bongo. No extras but the film is more than enough, especially at the reasonable price.