Federico Fellini directed some of the best films of the 20th century. He was an artist who changed the films that came after him. If you’ve never seen one of his films watch 8 1/2, La Strada or La Dolce Vita and you’ll be amazed at how many movies you’ve seen reference or outright copy him.
When choosing the image to accompany these quotes, I had to hold myself back from choosing an image from one his films. Not that Fellini would have minded, as you will see from the quotes below he didn’t distinguish between life an art. In fact, as he points out, he doesn’t see the difference between reality and imagination as a useful distinction.
Fellini’s films really explore what it means to be a movie. His own life, random occurrences on set, hallucinations and sharp shifts in tone all play into the story. For him, life and creativity were inseparable. Here are a few of his thoughts.
A created thing is never invented and it is never true: it is always and ever itself.
All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.
Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.
What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a
physical reality and a metaphysical one…. It’s this in-between that
I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible
world and the intangible one—which is really the realm of the artist.
The artist is the medium between his fantasies and the rest of the world.
You exist only in what you do.
I’m perhaps a special type of spectator. I experience pleasure when I find myself in front of something that is the absolute truth, not because it resembles life, but because it’s true as an image for itself, as a gesture. And therefore vital. It’s the vitality that makes me appreciate and feel that the action succeeded. I think the expression of an artist’s work finds consensus when, whoever enjoys it feels as if they’re receiving a charge of energy, like a growing plant does, of something pulsing, mysterious, vibrant with life.
A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provide they come close together.
Money is everywhere but so is poetry. What we lack are the poets.
I don’t believe in total freedom for the artist. Left on his own, free to do anything he likes, the artist ends up doing nothing at all. If there’s one thing that’s dangerous for an artist, it’s precisely this question of total freedom, waiting for inspiration and the rest of it.
For every creative person, fantasy has certain aspects of obsession. Being unable to free oneself from these fantasies is a kind of torture.
Work is a protective canopy from dark thoughts about the flying time. Creativity creates energy, and energy stimulates the feeling of life.