Fascism and humor are conflicting themes. Fascism is not just a serious topic, the word itself implies conformity under a law and it challenges personal liberties. Humor thrives on ridicule, vulnerability and the upending of authority, while turning what is most important into an absurdity. Edward Rothstein discusses the use of humor in the film Life is Beautiful. The film attempts to fight fascism with humor. The main character is a Jewish bookseller persistent in keeping the monstrosity of the Holocaust from his son. He turns the horrors of the time into a game for the boy. This fantasy is possible, in part because the film plays on the innocence of a child. Although humor may be the strongest opposition to fascism, downplaying fascism may also downplay the hardships faced by its victims.
Life is Beautiful can be nightmarish, yet also grotesquely outrageous. At times, the humor of the film outplays the seriousness of the topic, and the concentration camps appear less appalling. However the film manages to properly preserve the main character’s trying efforts in the face of death. Rothstein calls this terror in the company of humor a “death-haunted clowning”. The writer and director of Life is Beautiful, Roberto Benigni, had been largely influenced by Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator and Fellini’s Amarcord. Amarcord uses a similar style of the “death-haunted clowning”. He calls it clowing, because fascism is presented theatrically, like a circus, although not in a cheery light. Mr. Benigni relates it to the acts of the Italian clown Toto, whose presence brought laughter, even though he was certainly facing death in his acts.
Amarcord is something of a humorous, yet anti-fascist tale. Like Life is Beautiful, life under fascism is presented so theatrically, that it becomes ridiculous, almost to the point of humor. Although humor and fascism do not go hand in hand, Fellini was articulated humor, in order to take a jab at fascism’s absurdity. Fellini is not someone who holds any respect for fascist ideals, and he finds those ideals so fallacious, that they are comical.
Stephen Farber touches on the themes of two films of the early 1970’s: Amarcord and Lacombe, Lucien. Federico Fellini’s Amarcord takes place in 1930’s fascist Italy, at Mussolini’s prime, while Louis Malle’s Lacombe, Lucien is set just prior to the liberation of France, around 1944. Both filmmakers exploit the apathetic responses of everyday people as the cause of fascism. The films make a similar statement, but achieve this with two very different means. In Lacombe, Lucien, the sequence of events seem unplanned and occur randomly, but they come together with rational answers. The main character Lucien, seems to join the Gestapo by chance: he is first rejected from joining the Resistance, but is picked up by Vichy police and pressured into helping their organization. Scenes are presented with such cold, harsh reality, that it is almost comical. Stephen Farber describes a scene where a Gestapo officer holds a man’s head below water, while his girlfriend laughs that his expensive pants are getting wet. Fellini’s Amarcord places the most importance on the warm and personal day-to-day events in the lives of Italians. Farber calls the film “less overtly political; it is a personal memoir”. The audience observes the passing of time in a small town of Italy and is consistently reminded of the apathy and submissiveness of the citizens. Fascism in Italy is built from the cooperation of similar towns.
The memoir-like quality of the film is likely the result of Fellini exploring this film from his own experiences. The comparison of these two films exposes Amarcord’s warmth in the telling of everyday events. Italy has come under fascist rule, yet the people carry on, with business as usual. The film has captured these events in a life-like, human quality that makes the passive choice of the characters actually understandable. The film makes a point of presenting this style of life on a silver platter--apathy is an easy route to take.
see Journal de l'Empire, 3 July 1812, p. 2, letter signed R-h, for possible kaleidoscope
1. The Undiscovered Continent
2. The Tribes Of France,
I 3. The Tribes Of France,
Ii 4. o o`c sõ« bai ya win oui oyi awe` jo ja oua
5. Living In France,
I: The Face In The Museum 006. Living In France,
Ii: A Simple Life
7. Fairies, Virgins, Gods And Priests
8. Migrants And Commuters 00Interlude: The Sixty Million Others 00
11. Travelling In France,
I: The Avenues Of Paris
12. Travelling In France,
II: The Hare And the Tortoise
14. The Wonders Of France
15. Postcards Of The Natives
16. Lost Provinces 0017. Journey To The Centre Of France
Epilogue: Secrets 00Acknowledgements Chronology
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A row of bicycles for hire
France's second largest city adopted the system in May 2005. It has been a huge success, with people combining cycles and other modes of transport to reach work or leisure destinations.
* 2,000 bicycles and 175 pick up/drop off ranks installed
* Up to 16,000 rentals per day
* Each bicycle used by up to 15 people each day
* Average journey time is 17 minutes and 1.7 miles in distance
* In 10 months users cycled 2.5 million miles - the same as travelling from the Earth to the Moon ten times.