Fellini's Visual Style(s): A Phenomenological Account

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The paper reexamines the “Fellini look” from a phenomenological perspective. It attends to the potency of haptic appeal, somatic communication, and sensorimotor activation offered by Fellini's cinema. Fellini's quest for unmediated engagement between viewer and film is analyzed on the basis of a tripartite periodization: (1) intense employment of the foreground, primarily in the black-and-white films; (2) a painterly middle period; and (3) recourse to plastic, vapor, and other forms of material excess, in the third and last period. These and other visual tactics are interrogated with respect to phenomenological film theory and recent neurocognitive studies that look at spectators’ engagement with art and film. The discussion is focused on the viewer's body and the phenomenology of engagement with Fellini's films, rather than the cerebral puzzlement and top-down cognitive processing they might elicit. Drawing on Gumbrecht's presence effect, and Gallese's embodied simulation, the paper investigates Fellini's ways of anchoring film affect in the viewer's body. Attending to the phenomenological aspect of Fellini's visual style is crucial to understanding the compelling grip of his films as aesthetic objects.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationA companion to Federico Fellini
EditorsFrank Burke, Marguerite Waller , Marita Gubareva
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
ISBN (Print)9781119431534
StatePublished - 2020


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