Federico Fellini’s List of His 10 Favorite Films … Includes One of His Own

Film fans have few stronger vices, I would submit, than the making of lists. But we can take some small measure of consolation from the fact that certain auteurs have occasionally done it too. Yes they make their own lists of favorite films. Quentin Tarantino has done it. So have Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen. Same with Andrei Tarkovsky, Susan Sontag and Akira Kurosawa. And then there’s one of the most interesting lists — that of Federico Fellini, which originally appeared in Sight and Sound. It runs as follows:

  1. The Circus/City Lights/Monsieur Verdoux (1928,31,47, Charles Chaplin)
  2. Any Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy
  3. Stagecoach (1939, John Ford)
  4. Rashomon (1950, Akira Kurosawa)
  5. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972, Luis Bunuel)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
  7. Paisan (1946, Roberto Rossellini)
  8. The Birds (1963, Alfred Hitchcock)
  9. Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
  10. 8 1/2 (1963, Federico Fellini)

Never a slave to restraint, Fellini bends the tacit rules of list-making in a few different ways here. He includes not one but three films, all by Charlie Chaplin, in the top spot, ranks the complete comedic works of both the Marx Brothers (whose 1935 A Night at the Opera you can watch above) and Laurel and Hardy in third place, and, in the most audacious act of all, adds a movie of his own to the list. Maybe the fact that he puts it at number ten scores him a humility point?

Then again, the director of La Dolce VitaSatyricon, and Juliet of the Spirits could have found his distinctively grotesque and celebratory worldview realized nowhere but in his own work. And upon reflection, putting 8 1/2 in last place looks overmodest. “I have seen 8 1/2 over and over again, and my appreciation only deepens,” wrote Roger Ebert in a piece on the film. “It does what is almost impossible: Fellini is a magician who discusses, reveals, explains and deconstructs his tricks, while still fooling us with them. He claims he doesn’t know what he wants or how to achieve it, and the film proves he knows exactly, and rejoices in his knowledge.” And he knew he was damn good.

Related Content:

Andrei Tarkovsky Creates a List of His 10 Favorite Films (1972)

Ingmar Bergman Evaluates His Fellow Filmmakers — The “Affected” Godard, “Infantile” Hitchcock & Sublime Tarkovsky

Woody Allen Lists the Greatest Films of All Time: Includes Classics by Bergman, Truffaut & Fellini

Martin Scorsese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preservation)

Stanley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Created)

Roger Ebert’s Final List of His Top 10 Favorite Films (2012)

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.


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  • Nik Willmore says:

    “I have never been very good at distinguishing between what is real and what is not. All artists are dedicated to materializing their fantasies and then to sharing these fantasies. Their creations are fanciful, emotional, irrational, intuitive. I start out directing, but something else takes over. Then I really believe it’s not me who’s directing the film; it’s the film whose directing me.” – Federico Fellini (I, Fellini)

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