19 October 2006 | Cristi_Ciopron
Gentleness,sheer suavity,the relishes and tearing of an encounter,and the joys of the dance
Ginger e Fred (1986) is one of the few movies (4 in all) Fellini made in the '80s,and the ripest fruit of his late career,the acme of his narrative cinema.(In the 7th decade of the 20th century,Fellini also made relatively few films:only 4,and also 2 sketches.)Is "Ginger ..." Fellini's best movie?I don't know that;but it certainly is the one that I cherish most.Exquisite, unobjectionable, unparalleled cinema? Surely!Within the Fellini criteria,this is a rather simple movie,deprived of experiments,etc.;it is,of course,of no avail to be "told",but not because it lacks a "story",only that it is a simple,uneventful one.A sudden return to what we may call a perennial realism,of a perfect incision and a welcome sobriety of means,a huge appetite for giving an objective and transitive creation (though the resources of grotesque,tenderness,comic,Oneiric ,a detached Inebriety,satire,effects of strange,caricatures,etc.,are also used).It is also a return to a narrative form,and a very comic movie:in this film,Fellini has a content to be told,to be molded and put in an epic shape.The weird people could not miss,on the contrary;but the movie has an obvious realistic aim,in a comical,satirical and tender key.As shape,it is not an essay,but a realist narration,and each thing,though caricatured,is plausible.I would say that Fellini has,in "Ginger ...",so firm a notion on what he wants to say,that he can afford himself to be playful.He can afford it,as the main aim of his movie is so firmly handled.He had some things to say about love,life,old age,career,art,TV,contemporary life,etc.,some very straight things.For this movie,he chosen to deepen in the contemporary world;moreover,here he has not anymore that sense of tearing,of speechless pained,exasperated sensibility that gave a very special note to his '50s movies.A shivering,a feverishness.Mrs. Masina,in her room,looking outside:she sees a Martian landscape.
Throughout his 50 years career,Fellini made some TV creations (such as The Clowns and A Director's Notebook).In "Ginger ...",he expresses all his disgust for that institution,in a very acid charge.Is Fellini ever "non-judgmental", as some would like to believe?Never.
Mastroianni,with his whistles,and licentious jokes,and bad language,and courtesy.Fellini always allowed his actors to be great,to do THEIR creations,he never used them as mere puppets.Must I praise here Mastroianni's perfect mastery of his profession,his exquisite and tasty professionalism,in the noblest sense of this banal word?Fellini was a too generous, too intelligent director,not to let,and not to encourage Mastroianni be himself and give his best.Hence ,Mastroianni's "Pippo" is a whole chapter in the acting's history.(Hitchcock was not content with Clift,and I don't think he was with Newman;Antonioni was not content with Harris.Well,Fellini seemed to like the actors with strong personalities:he had in his movies Mastroianni,Anthony Quinn, Basehart, Broderick Crawford,Sordi,Terence Stamp,Anouk Aimée,François Périer, etc.,etc.!He never disliked or avoided to work with the great actors;this is a sign of his abundant and good-humored endowment,able to engross others' aptitude for creation .With Fellini,the actor's dignity is safe,and restored,the actor is allowed to display his endowment and work,his creation is sustained by the director.)In "Ginger ...",as in some other shows he did as an oldster,Mastroianni finds that exactness,that roundness,that plenitude,that sureness,that pleasantness,that made him maybe the most sure-footed actor.In his youth and maturity,Mastroianni's force came from his dexterity,intrepidity,etc.;now,there is this sheer artistic robustness.
Watch Mastroianni and Mrs. Masina,to see for yourself how far,how deep the actors' art can go.