Monthly Archives: May 2010

Psychedelic Fellini

Continuing my review of Fellini films, I found the 1965 release ‘Juliet of the Spirits’ (or originally ‘Giulietta degli Spiriti’) to be quite good.  This was Fellini’s first film in color, and they are rich and beautiful. Juliet is a middle-aged wife (played by Fellini’s wife Giulietta Masina) who is beset by worries that her husband is having an affair, and she often slips into a kind of dream world.  It is sometimes hard to tell what is meant to be ‘real’ and what is her internal world.

As I watched the film I found it to have quite a psychedelic aspect to it, without the usual campiness that came later.  This was given an extra twist when I watched the Fellini interview included on the DVD, first broadcast by the BBC on June 1, 1966, with actor Ian Dallas narrating & asking the questions.  Near the end of the 20 minute clip, we learn that Fellini tried acid (no date given for the experience, but probably before ‘8 1/2’).  Here are some quick transcriptions of the interview, not exact but close enough.

Narrator: Once he let a doctor give him the hallucination drug LSD.

Fellini: It was a little bit disappointing, the experience. I don’t remember it to have proved a special sensation. The doctor give to me an explanation and I am agree with him, he says an artist lives always in the imagination, so the barrier between the sensational reality and the imagination is very vague. An artist is always here and there. This experiment gives a much more stronger result with, and this is a stupid way to say it, ‘normal people’ who are stronger in that barrier of conscious and unconscious. So this kind of drug opens a door in a different dimension. But an artist, this kind of door is always open. I remember I have some exultation about color. I see color not like they are normally, we see colors in the object, we see objects that are colored. In that case, I saw the colors just like they are, detached from the object. I had for the first time the feeling of the presence of color in a detached way.

N: This did affect ‘Giulietta’?

F: In a certain sense, yes.

F: Taking this drug, LSD-25, reality becomes objective. So reality is innocence, is pure, and is of divine beauty. In the same moment that the reality comes to you in this divine beauty, there is also the other side.

N: In ‘8 1/2’ and ‘Giulietta’ you have gone into this world, you have shown this element of reality. Do you imagine in the future, say in your next film, that you will return to external historic reality, or that you will have the two aspects?

F: I think that even if this road maybe is dangerous, I think that when one has had the intuition, the feeling, one has opened that door, I don’t think you can go back. It is necessary to go on with the help of your intellect, with the protection of your intellect, but also with the faith, with the confidence in what can happen.