Damian Pettygrew's "Je suis un grand menteur" is an extraordinary documentary, in that it captures the great Italian director, Federico Fellini, speaking to us about his ideas, technique, craftsmanship, and his relationship with the movies in which he was involved. Federico Fellini speaks candidly about his way of making movies and about himself.Only a few of his collaborators were called upon to talk about the maestro. Fellini was a figure larger than life; his pictures were the way for him to express his ideas to his audience. It's curious only three actors were selected for the documentary: Donald Sutherland, Terence Stamp and Roberto Benigni. Omitted from it were collaborators like Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Anita Ekberg and other living actors that are still living who could have added their views to the documentary.Having seen "The Magic of Fellini", directed by Carmen Piccini, Damian Pettygrew's film doesn't add anything that had not been known before as Fellini remains a figure that had all the ideas in his mind, but it seems he was a man whose way of working depended a lot on the improvisation he brought to the set on any given moment.Mr. Pettygrew finds parallels between Fellini and Guido, his character of "8-1/2", who was at best, an enigma because everything he had stored in his head and how, at times, it was so hard for him to communicate the ideas to the people he was working with, at the time."Je suis un grand menteur" is a must see for all Fellini fans.
Instead of watching this, just watch 8 1/2. The same themes and ideas are expressed, but 8 1/2 is beautiful and expressive. This movie, while referencing and showing clips to other movies, generally takes most of its inspiration from 8 1/2 and, honestly, I feel if I hadn't had watched 8 1/2 previously I wouldn't have been able to care about this documentary.Another thing is that this documentary lingers in heavy close-up on Fellini's face a lot, which isn't composed well and is kind of annoying. About the only really good original imagery in the film is long takes of the Italian countryside, but even those aren't technically necessary... especially since Fellini and some of the others in the movie discuss how sometimes sets are more preferable anyway.All I got out of this movie was the feeling that I could have much better spent my time watching one of the films presented in this essay. So I think I'll go do that now instead of lingering any longer on it.--PolarisDiB
The tyrant at work, masterfully. The poet, the idiosyncratic storyteller. The selfish humanitarian. Yes all of that and more or more or less. Orson Welles said once that Fellini was a monumental artist with very little to say. I think that this portrait of the man confirms it. I loved the anecdotes by Donald Sutherland and in particular by Terence Stamp. I can imagine the shock for English not to mention American actors who need motivations for every tiny little move, having to do with a puppeteer that demands total obedience. That's why, I imagine, Fellini never made an American film. No, Cinecitta was his world, the only world he could really manipulate in his own, dream like, kind of magic. Personally I love his movies before he was Fellini, before "8 1/2". I revisit "La Dolce Vita" and "The Nights Of Cabiria" very often and they are always reinvigorating and extraordinary. Long live Fellini, wherever he is.
What can I say? After the explosion of "8 1/2", which knocked me for a loop, I became a devout Fellinian, even though I was dissapointed in other offerings by him ("City Of Women", and "Julett Of The Spirits"). I will return to them after this film. Along with Welles and Bergman, he completes the "Holy Trinity" of filmakers in my life span.. The day before viewing this film, I was depressed by watching an hour of the wretched "Lost In Translation" which has received bravos from the major critics, that almost made me question my sanity. I was brought back to reality by many imdb user reviews who agreed with me and were incredulous at the praise of the "pros". Fellini sits in a chair and talks quietly of his life's work. He is everything the guys in the professional holy business like priests, bishops, rabbis et al, try to be, and never are... truly loving, kind, gentle, and if he is a phoney, this is one of the greatest cons of all time. One of the funniest parts of the movie is where he had to shoot a scene on the beach showing the ocean. He looked at the sea and said, "I never liked the way oceans look", so 200 sq. yards of vinyl became the ocean, and we never knew the differance The wonderful Fellini narration is aided by Donald Sutherland, Terrance Stamp, cameramen, writers, technicians, and of course clips from the films. If you consider yourself a film buff (and a human being) NOT TO BE MISSED!
This film makes a lot more sense to someone who's seen many of Fellini's films, such as myself, than to someone who hasn't, such the person with whom I saw it. The film is Fellini the director on himself, the director. The comments by some of the people who worked on the films with him are very good, but too limited to do more than punctuate Fellini's self examination. What he has to say is very interesting, and makes me want to re-view some of the films I haven't watched in many years, especially "8 1/2". But this documentary is too long, too desultory, and simply too boring in its use of a single shot throughout the interview with Fellini to engage the more casual viewer.