Essential Fellini

Juliet of the Spirits

Part of a multi-title set


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One hundred years after his birth, Federico Fellini still stands apart as a giant of the cinema. The Italian maestro is defined by his dualities: the sacred and the profane, the masculine and the feminine, the provincial and the urbane. He began his career working in the slice-of-life poetry of neorealism, and though he soon spun off on his own freewheeling creative axis, he never lost that grounding, evoking his dreams, memories, and obsessions on increasingly grand scales in increasingly grand productions teeming with carnivalesque imagery and flights of phantasmagoric surrealism while maintaining an earthy, embodied connection to humanity. Bringing together fourteen of the director’s greatest spectacles, all beautifully restored, this centenary box set is a monument to an artist who conjured a cinematic universe all his own: a vision of the world as a three-ring circus in which his innermost infatuations, fears, and fantasies take center stage.

Picture 8/10

The ninth disc in Criterion’s box set Essential Fellini presents Julie of the Spirits on a dual-layer disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a 4K restoration scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

The presentation here has a significantly different look in comparison to the old Criterion DVD, though I’d say for the better. Admittedly the film’s colours—which do lean warmer—can come off pale, but do come off more vibrant during the fantastical sequences, with sharp looking reds, oranges, and violets. Black levels are a bit iffy throughout: they look inky most of the time but shadow details seem to get lost at times, and the darker sequences can come off a little murky.

This is all a significant improvement over the DVD, though, which has a much heavier yellow tint (skin tones look horribly jaundiced) and crushed blacks. I’m not sure which colour scheme is correct, though I’m going to go with the new Blu-ray’s being closer to correct (at least) because, well, the DVD looks awful.

The encode is nice, looking stable. Some darker scenes look a bit noisy, and detail isn’t as sharp as I guess I would expect, but the image has a nice texture to it, and film grain is rendered well.

The restoration work has been more thorough, cleaning out more of the damage that remained on the DVD, and only a few minor blemishes remain now. What is odd, though, is that the film on this disc runs about 7-or-so-minutes longer than the film on the DVD, despite both restorations being sourced from the negative. I tried to do a comparison, but I’ll be damned if I could spot any significant difference between the two versions.

At any rate, it looks good, much better than the DVD’s old presentation, continuing on this set’s streak of solid presentations.

Audio 6/10

The film is accompanied by the film’s original Italian monaural soundtrack, presented here in lossless PCM. It sounds (and mostly looks) like everything was dubbed post-production, and there can be a hollowness to the dialogue because of that. But the sound is sharp with decent range, and Nino Rota’s music packs a nice punch.

Extras 8/10

Criterion ports over both on-disc features from their previous DVD edition: the film’s trailer along with a 1966 interview with Fellini conducted by Ian Dallas for the BBC program New Release in an episode entitled Familiar Spirits. The 21-minute program features Fellini talking about the freedom that La dolce vita’s success has afforded him before talking about the planning that goes into his films, from the atmosphere that will be created to the “faces” that he casts (whether they be professionals or not). He also talks about how he has to look at things a little differently for his first colour film (Juliet of the Spirits) and amusingly recalls his disappointment in his first (only?) LSD experience. Sandra Milo and Guido Alberti (who played the producer in ) also show up. Fellini is very open and engaging here, making this one of the better, least cryptic interviews with the filmmaker and it’s well worth watching.

The rest of the material is mostly new, but the biggest addition is the inclusion of Fellini’s 43-minute contribution to the omnibus film Spirits of the Dead, Toby Dammit. By far the best segment found in that film (the other segments were directed by Roger Vadim and Louis Malle), Toby Dammit is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” and features Terence Stamp starring as an English actor experiencing a bit of a slump (thanks to his heavy drinking), arriving in Rome to work on what sounds to be a “spaghetti western,” with part of his payment for taking the role being a new Ferrari. Upon first arriving he immediately begins seeing visions (largely a child in white) that only get worse after a television interview that goes off the rails followed by a lot of drinking at an awards ceremony.

The film has all of the visuals and touches you’d expect from Fellini, from the bizarre faces (including Stamp all done-up in pale, white make-up) to fantastical set pieces (the awards show), overbearing media (the interview segment is incredibly surreal on its own), quick close-ups, and an intense use of colour (red is used heavily), but it’s not to create one of the director's usual flights of fancy, but rather a living nightmare. The end result is a rather unnerving little film coated thick in atmosphere and bizarre imagery, further buoyed by Stamp’s rather wild performance and a brilliant last act. I still think it’s one of the best things Fellini did and it single-handedly saved the otherwise mediocre omnibus film it was made for.

Criterion only includes the international soundtrack (in Dolby Digital mono), which is a mix of English and Italian, but it does sound good. The short has also received a new 4K restoration and when compared to Arrow’s UK Blu-ray release for Spirits of the Dead the segment does look sharper and cleaner, with better colours and blacks. Unfortunately, the film has been lousily encoded and it’s laced with all sorts of artifacts, especially macro-blocking and banding, which is clear as day during the darker final act of the film. It’s easier to overlook during the brighter sections, but there’s no getting around that it’s a noisy looking presentation that upends any of the restorations improvements. I'm thrilled this is here but it's a shame that more wasn't put into delivering it in the best possible manner.

Also appearing here is the 51-minute Fellini: A Director’s Notbook, directed by Fellini for NBC television in 1969. In it he reflects on his work (finished, unfinished, upcoming), the nature of filmmaking, what he feels film is, what influences his work, and talks about the people that interest him, all mixed with footage of the director working. The feature is then accompanied by a text feature, Fellini’s Letter to NBC producer Peter Goldfarb covering what he wanted the program to be about.

This program had been included on Criterion’s previous DVD and Blu-ray editions for and in both cases the presentations were lackluster due to the condition of the materials, despite a newer restoration being used for the Blu-ray edition. It looks as though another restoration has been done for this one but things are still pretty rough: it looks as though the colours have deteriorated a great deal and contrast is way off, making it hard to see the picture a lot of the time.

Finally, the disc finishes off with an episode from the program Reporter’s Diary entitled Zoom on Fellini. Running 33-minutes, it was shot on location during the filming of Juliet of the Spirits, and it features behind-the-scenes footage around a handful of sequences and shows the director working on planning around make-up, costumes, and more.

Altogether, a far more satisfying collection of bonus material compared to the DVD, the inclusion of Toby Dammit being an especially excellent addition.


In comparison to Criterion's original DVD the Blu-ray delivers a far sharper presentation and some great material showing Fellini at work.

Part of a multi-title set


Year: 1950-1987
Time: 1691 total min.
Series: The Criterion Collection
Licensors: Intramovies  |  Paramount Home Entertainment  |  Cristaldi Films  |  Gaumont  |  Cineteca di Bologna  |  Studio Canal  |  BetaFilm  |  Corinth Films  |  Istituto Luce  |  MGM Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 24 2020
MSRP: $249.95
15 Discs | BD-50
1.33:1 ratio
1.37:1 ratio
1.85:1 ratio
2.35:1 ratio
English 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Italian 1.0 PCM Mono
Subtitles: English
Region A
 Fellini: I'm a Born Liar, a feature-length documentary from 2002 by Damian Pettigrew that provides an unorthodox introduction to Federico Fellini's life and work and features extensive interviews with the director himself   First episode of Second Look, Andre Delvaux's 1960 series of interviews with Federico Fellini for Belgian television   Interviews from 2002 with actors Brunella Bovo and Leopoldo Trieste, and Fellini friend and collaborator Moraldo Rossi   Archival audio interviews of Federico Fellini and his friends and family, conducted by critic Gideon Bachmann   Vitellonismo, a 2004 documentary featuring interviews with actors Leopoldo Trieste and Franco Interlenghi, assistant director Moraldo Rossi, Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich, Fellini friend Vincenzo Mollica, and former director of the Fellini Foundation Vittorio Boarini   Second episode of Second Look, Andre Delvaux's 1960 series of interviews with Federico Fellini for Belgian television   Presentation of I vitelloni ephemera from the "Felliniana" archive of collector Don Young   Trailer for I vitelloni   Introduction for La strada from 2003 by filmmaker Martin Scorsese   Audio commentary from 2003 for La strada by Peter Bondanella, author of The Cinema of Federico Fellini   Federico Fellini’s Autobiography, a documentary originally broadcast on Italian television in 2000   Trailer for La strada   New audio commentary for Il bidone by Fellini scholar Frank Burke   Interview from 2013 with filmmaker Dominique Delouche   Giulietta Masina: The Power of a Smile, an hour-long documentary from 2004   Third episode of Second Look, Andre Delvaux's 1960 series of interviews with Federico Fellini for Belgian television   Interview from 1999 with filmmaker Dominique Delouche   Audio interview from 1998 with producer Dino De Laurentiis   Trailers for Nights of Cabiria   Interview from 2014 with filmmaker Lina Wertmüller, an assistant director on La dolce vita   Interview from 2014 with scholar David Forgacs about the period in Italian history when La dolce vita was made   Interview from 2014 with Italian journalist Antonello Sarno   Interview from 1965 with Federico Fellini   Presentation of La dolce vita ephemera from the "Fellinana" archive of collector Don Young   Video essay for La dolce vita from 2014 by filmmaker Kogonada   Fourth episode of Second Look, Andre Delvaux's 1960 series of interviews with Federico Fellini for Belgian television   Documentary from 2009 by Antoine de Gaudemaron on the making of La dolce vita, featuring archival footage and interviews with actor Anouk Aimée and assistant director Dominique Delouche, among others   Introduction to from 2001 by filmmaker Terry Gilliam   Audio commentary from 2001 for , featuring film critic and Fellini friend Gideon Bachmann, and NYU film professor Antonio Monda   The Last Sequence, a 2003 documentary on Fellini's lost alternate ending for    Nino Rota: Between Cinema and Concert, a 1993 documentary about Fellini's longtime composer   Interviews from 2001 with actor Sandra Milo, filmmaker Lina Wertmüller, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro   Rare photographs for from Bachmann's collection   Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production photos from    U.S. theatrical trailer for    4K restoration for Toby Dammit, Fellini's contribution to the omnibus film, Spirits of the Dead, based on tales by Edgar Allan Poe   Fellini: A Director's Notebook, a film by Fellini from 1969, newly restored in 4K   Reporter's Diary: "Zoom on Fellini," a behind-the-scenes documentary   Familiar Spirits, a 1969 interview with Federico Fellini by actor Ian Dallas   Trailer for Juliet of the Spirits   Audio commentary from 2014 for Fellini Satyricon featuring an adaptation of Eileen Lanouette Hughes’s 1971 memoir On the Set of “Fellini Satyricon”: A Behind-the-Scenes Diary   Ciao, Federico!, Gideon Bachmann’s documentary shot on the set of Fellini Satyricon   Archival interviews with Federico Fellini   Interview from 2011 with cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno   Documentary from 2014 about Fellini’s adaptation of Petronius’s work, featuring interviews with classicists Luca Canali, a consultant on the film, and Joanna Paul   Interview from 2014 with photographer Mary Ellen Mark about her experiences on the set of Fellini Satyricon and her iconic photographs of Fellini and his film   Presentation of Fellini Satyricon ephemera from the "Felliniana" archive of collector Don Young   Trailer for Fellini Satyricon   Audio commentary for Roma featuring Frank Burke, author of Fellini’s Films   Deleted scenes from Roma   Interview from 2016 with filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino   Interview from 2016 with poet and Fellini friend Valerio Magrelli   Presentation of Roma ephemera from the "Felliniana" archive of collector Don Young   Trailer for Roma   Audio commentary from 2006 for Amarcord by film scholars Peter Brunette and Frank Burke   The Secret Diary of "Amarcord," a 1974 behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the film   Deleted scene from Amarcord   Fellini's Homecoming, a documentary from 2006 on the relationship between the director and his hometown   Interview from 2006 with actor Magali Noël   Fellini's drawings of characters from the film   Presentation of Amarcord ephemera from the "Felliniana" archive of collector Don Young   U.S. theatrical trailer for Amarcord   Fellini racconta: Diary of a Film, a behind-the-scenes documentary from 1983   Fellini's TV, a 2003 Italian television documentary on Fellini's work in television advertising during the 1980s   Fellini racconta: Passeggiate nella memoria, an Italian television documentary produced in 2000 and featuring several interviews with a late-in-life Fellini looking back on his career   At Home with Federico Fellini, a 1987 interview with Federico Fellini on the importance of Franz Kafka's unfinished novel Amerika to Intervista   Audio interview from the early sixties with actor Marcello Mastroianni by film critic Gideon Bachmann   Marcello Mastroianni: I Remember, 193-minute documentary featuring the actor talking about his life as an actor   Deluxe packaging, including two lavishly illustrated books with hundreds of pages of content: notes on the films by scholar David Forgacs, essays by filmmakers Michael Almereyda, Kogonada, and Carol Morley; film critics Bilge Ebiri and Stephanie Zacharek; and novelist Colm Tóibín, and dozens of images spotlighting Don Young’s renowned collection of Fellini memorabilia