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Send in ‘The Clowns’

Federico Fellini’s ‘The Clowns’

Federico Fellini loves his clowns. They are the stars of La Strada, part of the sideshow of 8 ½, and revelers in the dreamscape world of Juliet of the Spirits, and those are just the literal incarnations in whiteface and costumes. You find their cousins in Il Bidone and The White Sheik and the circus spirit in the society sideshows of La Dolce Vita and the flights of creative fantasy in 8 ½. He loved to cast clowns in his supporting casts and directed one of Italy’s great clowns in his movies: Polido (aka Ferdinand Guillaume), who played Pagliaccio in La Dolce Vita and appeared in Nights of Cabiria (as a monk), 8 ½, and Toby Dammit (Fellini’s section of Spirits of the Dead). The Clowns, directed for Italian TV (where it debuted on Christmas Eve, 1970) and subsequently released in theaters, is his celebration of these modern jesters.

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