MovieChat Forums > Fellini - Satyricon (1969) Discussion > when bad is good (or when kooky is super...

when bad is good (or when kooky is superb)

One of the few films I felt impelled to login to comment. From the obtuse symbolism and overt "dramaculism" to the massive fake sets and cheesily clever (cleverly cheesy?) props, forget the out-of-sync business (that only adds to its' charm) --- I rarely am glued to a 2 hour movie but this was fantasmagorical foshizzle. Of course lighting was difficult for everything 40-50 years ago.

Just as I would give John Water's "Female Trouble" a 10/10 this gets one from me as well. And it did not make ANY difference that I just watched "I'm a born liar" a few days ago. I already knew Fellini was a madman genius (genius madman?) and this gem is a perfect example. Enjoyed tremendously.

My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too.
Rodney Dangerfield (1921 -2004)


I agree with you wholeheartedly. I found my old VHS copy from the 80s a few days ago and coundn't believe I was getting absorbed in something so nonsensical. I couldn't sit still through it if I took it too seriously. This film, back in 1989, led me to Petronius' original which is a classic bawdy homoerotic satire. There's not much in the way of "satire" or bawdy material in Fellini's version, and yet I find it uproariously funny. He seems to have deliberately gone out of his way to hire the worst actors (but with striking visual appearance) as his leads. Perhaps the "Dinner with Trimalchio" proves the most faithful transplant from the book and closest to it in spirit. Odd faces fill the screen, often looking blankly into the camera as if to judge the audience watching it. Perhaps Fellini's intention was to mesmerize his audience through phantasmagorical imagery and rhythmic music and odd sound effects (Fellini loves the stock sounds of crackling fire and wind played at maximum volume). Pauline Kael was right though---once you see the film is a series of loosely-related (and often non-related) vignettes, the technique grows tiresome. I just saw Fellini Satyricon twice recently and the final sequences are a blur to me, whereas the first half is visially thrilling and memorable even while making little sense.


This movie is a masterful work indeed.

Better to hang a dead husband than to lose a living lover.... Even that small story within the story was done wonderfully.


Yep, I just saw it for the first time and found it thoroughly engrossing. Some of the sparse sets reminded me more opera staging than a film (or maybe Japanese cinema).

Simply put, it's a beautiful film.