1962, Movies

Boccacio ’70 (1962, Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Luchino Visconti)

This is a collection of four roughly 50 minute long films (just three in the US theatrical edition) poking fun at the sexual mores of 1960s Italy (which is why there’s “’70” in the title???) in tribute to Decameron by Boccacio, a 14th century set of tales considered one of the early Italian literary masterpieces. Perhaps a little like The Canterbury Tales for all I know.

Knowing how I generally feel about much Italian cinema in general, and Fellini in particular, and “sex comedies,” and learning that I have never heard of Boccacio or read Decameron, one might well wonder why I watched this. Well, trust me, I wondered the same thing while watching it.

Three of the four films are very similar tone if not in content; the only one that stands out from them is Fellini’s, which is his usual fantastical and whimsical thing, this time with a billboard coming to life. The jokes in all of the movies have dated and don’t necessarily translate from the context of 1960s Italy (be it urban or rural) to urban Toronto in 2016. Sometimes humour holds up over time and distance but, for me, it didn’t here. Most of the jokes felt to me like easy jokes about silly prudish sexual mores (an easy target) and don’t come off as satire (which this is ostensibly) but rather as farce. The other jokes are of the type of “Italians behave in ridiculous ways!” – a sentiment I agree with but don’t find amusing.

I guess in 1962, an anthology film like this about sex and featuring some of Italy’s biggest female stars might have seemed like a really big deal, despite how unbelievably tame the films are by today’s standards. (Romy Schneider’s naked back and some side boob! Sophia Loren in a bra! Material for masturbation for the rest of my life!) But today I can think of no reason to watch this: the jokes have dated to the point where most of them are not funny, the film is full of Italian dramatics of the kind that really, really irk me, and the Fellini film – despite being the most original thing here – does not really fit in with the other three.

I really need to audit my list of movies so I stop watching crap like this.


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