Essential Fellini

I vitelloni

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

Disc three of Criterion’s box set Essential Fellini features I vitelloni, presenting the film in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition encode is sourced from a newer 4K restoration, which was scanned from multiple film sources: a 35mm fine-grain master positive, a 35mm positive print, and a 35mm preservation negative.

Compared to Criterion’s previous DVD edition—that didn’t look all that bad—this presentation offers a substantial upgrade, presenting a far cleaner and more photographic looking image, but its evident that the source materials were in rough shape, and the jump between the different sources is evident as the quality fluctuates. The image is stable and clear most of the time, delivering a sharp and highly detailed image, but the picture can suddenly take on a dupier look or suddenly begin to pulse and shift. There are also a number of moments where the picture goes from sharp to blurry, jumping back and forth, as though the elements may have warped. This can get a bit heavier in the latter half of the film.

Outside of that there are a few marks but not much else, a majority of the damage found on the previous DVD edition now gone. Film grain is present and rendered decently enough outside of the blurrier moments, and this helps deliver the finer details, which can really pop during the sharper moments of the film.

The digital presentation is also clean, no artifacts to speak of, and gray levels are cleaner and more distinct in this presentation thanks to improved contrast, which also makes the blacks less heavy.

There are still a few issues due to the available elements, but this new presentation still offers a significant improvement over the old DVD.

Audio 5/10

The lossless PCM 1.0 monaural presentation sounds a bit cleaner than what was on the DVD, but it’s still flat and edgy, the music coming off particularly harsh. About what I expected, though.

Extras 6/10

Criterion replicates the supplements from their DVD edition for the most part, starting with the excellent 2004 35-minute documentary Vitellonismo, featuring interviews with actors Leopoldo Trieste and Franco Interlenghi, assistant director Moraldo Rossi, Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich, friend to Fellini Vincenzo Mollica, and Vittorio Boarini, former director of the Fellini Foundation.  After explaining the meaning of the word “vitelloni,” the featurette edits together the interviews to cover the making of the film, from how Fellini was able to get it made despite his previous film bombing before those who knew him well get into the elements from his life that would influence plot points in the film, and even some of his other work. There’s also some interesting back story behind how Vittorio De Sica was almost cast as the actor in the film (that was ultimately played by Achille Majeroni), but he became concerned about a specific characteristic of the character and turned down the role. It’s nothing but talking heads, but there’s a more personal feel to it and the participants can keep things amusing.

Not on the previous DVD edition is the next episode from the television program Second Look’s four-part interview with Fellini, the first part appearing on the disc for Variety Lights. In this 31-minute episode Fellini and host Andre Delvaux start to get into his film work, beginning with his work with Roberto Rossellini on Rome, Open City and Paisan, and then co-directing Variety Lights with Alberto Lattuada. While I vitelloni gets a mention (eventually) it would have probably made more sense for this particular episode to have appeared on the The White Sheik’s disc: there is a lot here around that film and what probably led to its eventual failure. Star Alberto Sordi—who was apparently box office poison at the time of the film’s original release—appears here to talk about the film a bit, and is amused at how the film is highly regarded at the time of the interview (1960) but was a “non-success” initially. Surprisingly we also get interviews with filmmaker Alberto Lattuada (who was supposed to direct The White Sheik and he recounts how the film would have differed if he had done it), cinematographer Otello Martellim, actors Peppino De Filippo and Leopoldo Trieste, and screenwriter Ennio Flaino. Thanks to the wider range of participants this episode proves to be less stale in format compared to the initial episode and the series is making for an excellent addition to the set so far.

Criterion then carries over the film’s original theatrical trailer and the stills gallery. The stills gallery, featuring photos of program books, photo books, lobby cards, and posters, is presented as a self-playing video and is not an indexed, navigable stills gallery like on the DVD. The gallery here also drops the film stills that appeared on that disc. Why they were dropped I can’t say.


Despite some source issues this new presentation still offers a significant upgrade over the previous DVD edition released by Criterion. It also carries over most of the features from the DVD while also adding an excellent archival interview with the director and those that worked with him on his early films.

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