director Federico Fellini
As Fellini Satyricon opens, there is a sense of theatricality and staginess to his adaptation of the Roman classic play by Petronius. For me, this is usually a warning sign that I’m not going to like a movie. This potential pet peeve, though, is not only disproven but eventually utterly eradicated.
Satyricon is masterful.
It’s a sprawling work, interweaving so much in its 129 minute running time that I don’t even know where to start. Episodic, fantastic, far-reaching, at its essence it is about two friends, Encolpius and Ascyltus, having a falling out over a young lover, Gitón. There is much sexuality in the film, desire, fulfillment, loss, yearning. And it is somewhat pansexual but also very much about homosexual love and desire. It feels amazingly progressive, even for 1969.
This rich and complex fantasy is more than I can react to from a single viewing. It’s surprising and vivid, outrageous, painful, wildly evocative. From what little I’ve read about Fellini’s approach and interest in the source material, a play only known in fragmentary form, seems really interesting.
I’m really at a loss to say more of it at the moment. I thought it was amazing.