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I Clowns (The Clowns)

I Clowns (The Clowns) (2001)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0

audience

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Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 1,152

My Rating

Movie Info

The culmination of filmmaker Federico Fellini's lifelong love affair with circus folk was his 1971 The Clowns (I clowns). Fellini's alter ego this time is a young boy, taking in his first circus (again, we're treated to the "parade" motif so often utilized by the director). As the clowns go through their rollicking routines, Fellini takes the time to snipe at movie critics by having one humorless newspaperman, who keeps repeating "What does it mean?", inundated with pails of water. There is also

Feb 22, 2011

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (0) | DVD (6)

It's not that The Clowns is not a good deal of fun, or that it is boring; it's just that -- to me, anyway -- this sort of coda doesn't do justice to the entire career.

May 9, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is artful and sometimes very amusing, but it doesn't work as fiction because Fellini is tied to facts, and it doesn't work as documentary because Fellini will not (cannot?) abandon his gift of giving the raw material an artistic shape.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The gorgeous, affectionate sequences outweigh the awkward ones, and The Clowns is an overall success.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Not Fellini's best, but Fellini nevertheless.

January 9, 2009
ColeSmithey.com

This is the film's ultimate message: don't think so much and just try to have some fun.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Valentine to the world of clowns.

February 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for I Clowns (The Clowns)

"The Clowns" was partly made for Italian television, so perhaps it shouldn't be measured against other Federico Fellini films. Regardless, it's probably the director's least interesting work. If you're someone who still howls with glee at pratfalls and confetti cannons, please disregard this review. But otherwise, be warned that this tribute to the traditional clown is unlikely to make you laugh. Not even once.

Fellini and his crew visit some circuses in Italy and France, and document various ring antics. A few wistful, retired clowns are interviewed. But this is not a strict documentary. The film opens with a depiction of the young Fellini sneaking into a traveling circus. We glimpse his town, where the sideshow qualities of everyday people underscore Fellini's standard "Life is a carnival" manifesto. The climax is an extended "death of a clown" set piece. A segment with Anita Ekberg trying to buy a panther also feels staged, and many other scenes seem too perfectly executed to be true. Fellini was too much of a taskmaster to leave everything to chance.

There isn't much insight into the clowns' minds and, beyond some knowledgeable talk of the distinction between "white clowns" and "augustes," minimal academic background is offered.

Fellini appears on camera as himself -- "The Clowns" is part a documentary, and part a documentary about the making of a documentary. The can't-miss moment is when a pretentious interviewer asks Fellini about the film's "message," and some prankster drops buckets over both parties' heads. Clearly, Fellini realized this was not one of his major statements.

My viewing experience was somewhat hobbled -- the Italian dialogue was subtitled, but not the French. Luckily, the film is mostly visual.
January 16, 2012
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Clowns (DE)
  • The Clowns (I clowns) (UK)
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