Fellini Satyricon

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Rome. Before Christ. After Fellini. FELLINI SATYRICON

Sep 5, 2010 (Updated Mar 28, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Wonderous collage of images building a mood.  Lots of sex and excess.

Cons:Like the Romans, one quickly becomes jaded.  Is that a bad thing?

The Bottom Line: The Satyricon is a text book case of using imagery to build continuity and mood.  A masterpiece.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Fellini- Satyricon (1969) Directed by Federico Fellini

Ascilto... what does the poet say? Each moment presented may be your last, so fill it up until you vomit... or something such?-Encolpius

Our hero, Encolpius (Martin Potter) is in love with his slave Gitone (Max Born) so he is more than a bit ticked when his friend Ascilitus (Hiram Keller) sold the lad to a famous actor.  He works diligently to retrieve the boy, and reclaims him, injecting himself into a performance, enriching the farce.  They travel back home, and languish in afterglow until Ascilitus gets back home.  Encolpius has had enough, and tells Ascilitus they are splitting their possessions and going their separate ways.  Unfortunately, they have to split the boy as well, and Gitone chooses to go with Ascilitus.  Encolpius' world is shattered, something soon reflected when their tenement suffers a catastrophic earthquake.  Escaping alive, Encolpius flees to his teacher, the poet Eumolpius (Salvo Randone) and goes with him to the banquet of Trimalcione (Mario Romagnoli) a very wealthy ex slave who fancies himself a poet.  There, they witness a parade of excess and wantoness, complete with Homeric poetry, lesbian courtship, deliberate humiliations and the host's funeral, so that he might enjoy hearing his own eulogies.  From honored guest, Eumolpius goes to narrowly escaping being thrown in the fiery oven.  Together, he and Encolpius leave, passing out in the fields, over come by wine.  Encolpius wakes to find himself enslaved, bound for the pleasure pits of Caesar's Island retreat, saved by the desires of the sadistic captain, Licius (Alain Cuny) married as the groom to the old wrestler, and freed again as the assassination of the Emperor throws out the old regime, and establishes a new.  Encolpius finds himself back in Ascilitus' company, living a life little better than bandits, robbing a temple of the precious albino hermaphrodite demi-god, and facing judgment at the hands of the minotaur.

If the plot line seems disjointed and random; well, it is.  The scenes run together like a necklace strung by a three year old; each one is chosen because of the colour and whim of the artist.  And yet there is a strong feeling of purpose in every shot.  As random and overwhelming as these vignettes can be, they together build an effective mosaic.  This is Rome, as a poem.  It is not accurate, but it conveys truth.  The excess and wantoness of the each scene, even as simple an act as walking home is a parade of perversion and deformity, builds a feeling of rather desperate ennui.  Homosexuality and vice are the norm, and everyone is seeking something beyond what they have already experienced, looking for something that will make them feel again.  There are themes of the ups and downs of fortune, watch Eumolpius for the clearest example, and of the excesses and loss of passion (impotence.)

Encolpius is a perfect example of choosing your friends carefully.  He invested his love in Gitone, a completely unworthy vessel, and continued being friends with Ascilitius, even knowing he is faithless, manipulative, and delights in the misfortunes of others.  In many ways, he brings every misery upon himself.  In others, he like all men, are victims of the vagaries of fate, that theme of helplessness and mystification in the face of misfortune running throughout the piece.  Fellini does not so much make a story, as build a collage.  It's purpose is not to relate a history, but impart a mood.

When it came out, the Satyricon was considered to be damaging to the public morals.  I find that almost funny, now, since the film is so clearly about the price of excess.  The other funny story connected to it, when asked why both the leading roles were played by foreign actors and not Italians, Federico Fellini replied, "Because there are no Italian homosexuals."

Petronius' Satyricon has only survived in fragments.  This film reflects that fragmentary nature, even to stopping in mid sentence, just as the surviving manuscript does. 

Gay Movies:

La Mission***Burnt Money***8: The Mormon Propo$ition***In The Flesh***The Sensei***The 24th Day***Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon***ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction***East Side Story***Dorian Blues***Creatures From the Pink Lagoon***Satyricon***Ice Men***Richard O'Briens Rocky Horror Tribute Show***Prom Queen***The Kids are All Right***Between Love and Goodbye***The Mudge Boy***That Man: Peter Berlin***A Single Man***Almost Normal***Outing Riley***Outrage!***Law of Desire***Love is the Devil***Cowboy Junction***Horror in the Wind***Bedrooms and Hallways***Cut Sleeve Boys***Big Eden***For A Lost Soldier***Midnight Cowboy***Redwoods***The Massuer***Boy Culture***Breakfast With Scot***The Fluffer***Flesh***Little Ashes***L.I.E. ***Dorian Gray***9 Dead Gay Guys***Shank***I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry***Beautiful Boxer***Bangkok Love Story***Schoolboy Crush***Shelter***Back Soon***Dog Tags***Theft***The Mulligans***The Velvet Goldmine***Swashbuckler***Smoke Signals
***C'Thulhu***Milk***The Picture of Dorian Gray***Brideshead Revisited***Notes on a Scandal***RocknRolla***Mamma Mia!
***Priscillia: Queen of the Desert***The History Boys***Brokeback Mountain***The Broken Hearts Club*** Yaji and Kita: Midnight Pilgrims ***Surge of Power ***In & Out ***Mambo Italiano ***Touch of Pink ***To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar ***Wolves of Kromer ***Rocky Horror Picture Show ***Taboo ***Deathtrap 

Gay Themed Series:

Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Dante's Cove
Carnivale Season One
Carnivale Season Two
Rome Season One
Rome Season Two
True Blood
True Blood: Season Two
The Book of Daniel: The Complete Series
Torchwood: Children of Earth
Torchwood: Season One

Gay Animation:

Pirate's Booty***Sensitive Pornograph***Loveless: The Complete Series***Loveless: Hope on the Run***Loveless: Soul of Chains***Loveless: Lost and Found***Embracing Love: A Cicada in Winter***Embracing Love: Cherished Spring ***Stonewall & Riot***Drawn Together Movie: The Movie***Drawn Together: Season 2***Drawn Together: Season 3

The Glory That Was Rome

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena
The Eagle 
Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Rome: Season One
Rome: Season Two


Roman Blood
Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Oracle of the Dead
Under Vesuvius
A Point of Law
A Gladiator Only Dies Once

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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