The Clowns (I Clowns) 1970

The Clowns

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 18

76%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,211
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Movie Info

This lighthearted pseudo-documentary from one of the world's most serious filmmakers, Federico Fellini, is full of vivid imagery of clown routines, revealing Fellini's great admiration for clowns and circus performers. Revisiting his childhood obsession with the art form, Fellini delves into memories of performances from his past, expertly acted out by true masters of the craft of clowning. Fellini attempts to introduce the levity of the clown to the form of documentary.

Cast & Crew

Maya Morin
Maya
Lina Alberti
Herself, Alvaro's mother
Alberto Vitali
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Critic Reviews for The Clowns (I Clowns)

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (18)

  • [Fellin] turns the world into his circus and, in a liberated, quasi-documentary style, resurrects some of history's great pagliacci with their cornucopia of practical jokes, smashed hats, pulled chairs, popping balloons and squirting flowers.

    March 11, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Fellini's documentary celebration of the dying art of the clown is his best film in years.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    David Pirie

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • 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…
  • 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 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It is, ultimately, one of [Federico Fellini's] most beautiful, haunting and compelling, personal, evasive, anti-intellectual and enchanted works.

    January 10, 2020 | Full Review…
  • I think Fellini feels he's shortchanging his audience. While vivid and researched, "The Clowns" seems like it only scratches the surface with his red-nosed, floppy-shoed obsession.

    November 12, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Clowns (I Clowns)

  • Jan 09, 2010
    "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.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 19, 2007
    Made for Italian TV documentary (sort of) by Fellini. I've seen it 3-4 times and I'd watch it again anytime. Best film I've ever seen about clowns.
    Morris N Super Reviewer

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