FELLINI SATYRICON is a movie that was released in 1969, produced by Alberto Grimaldi and directed by Famed Italian film maker Federico Fellini. The director based his story on the novel by Petronius which itself was written during the reign of the infamous Roman Emperor Nero. Set in the uncertain and somewhat bizarre times of Imperial Rome the movie is divided into nine sections which I suppose are separate movies within a movie. At the time of the films release it was shown mainly in cinema’s and theatres that were categorised as art house or independent outlets and I think I am right in saying it was not a movie that was on at your local Academy or Odeon. The storyline follows two main characters, Encolpius and his friend Ascyltus as they attempt to win the affections of a young boy named Giton, the two friends fall in love with the young man and Fellini tells their story via dreamlike and unreal shorts for want of a better description, which depict life, love and death within the bizarre and at times violent culture that is associated with Rome from that period. The musical score is by Nino Rota who scored most Fellini’s movies. SATYRICON is probably the most unusual film score that Rota ever penned, its weird and whacky compositions being far removed from anything that cinema goers might associate with Imperial Rome that had been served up by both Hollywood and Cinecitta but saying that SATYRICON is certainly no run of the mill Roman tale. I actually found the movie rather uncomfortable to watch and Rota’s score is in my opinion something that I can take or leave, it is interesting to note that the composer employed a theme within the score that is very similar to his GODFATHER theme although he did not fully develop the idea at that time, but one can most certainly hear the seven note motif that introduces the central theme for the GODFATHER at certain points within the score for SATYRICON.
There are also several cues that include strange sounding vocals or grunts and chanting that are accompanied by percussive elements that do seem very out of place even in this curious example of the work of Fellini. As I have already stated this is not a score that I would g out of my way to sit and listen to and, I probably would not be too upset if I never saw the movie again, but there are a handful of nice cues which are low key and do carry something that resembles a theme. THE NEW ISLAND for example which is a pleasant enough sounding piece, but if you are looking for another LA DOLCE VITA, AMACORD or GODFATHER, this is probably not for you. SATYRICON, is filled with weirdness and the unusual.