“The Clowns” (RaroVideo) – The debut stateside release from RaroVideo, an Italian boutique label specializing in art cinema and unusual releases, is the American DVD debut of Federico Fellini’s “The Clowns” (“I Clowns”), a first-person exploration/appreciation of the art and culture of clowns made with the usual indulgence of its director. Reviewing the film in 1971, Roger Ebert wrote of this mix of fact and fancy: “This is artful and sometimes very amusing, but it doesn’t work as fiction because Fellini is tied to facts, and it doesn’t work as documentary because Fellini will not (cannot?) abandon his gift of giving the raw material an artistic shape.” Originally made for Italian television, this edition is presented in the TV aspect ratio of 1.33:1. In Italian and French with English subtitles. DVD Beaver reviewer Eric Cotenas offers a review of the disc, citing some “egregious edge-enhancements that mar the digital presentation” but overall giving the release his approval.
The generous DVD release features Fellini’s 1953 short “La Agenzia Matrimoniale” (made for the anthology film “Love in the City”/”L’amore in citta”) and Adriano Arpa’s 45-minute visual essay “Fellini’s Circus,” which analyzes the film and explores the culture presented in the film. The disc is in a paperboard holder in a slipsleeve and accompanied by a handsome 50-page booklet with credits, production notes, stills, sketches by Fellini and “A Journey Into Shadow,” featuring excerpts from Fellini’s essays and script notes on the film.
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