Raising Sail – Lectures

Currently The Luminous Compass is offering the following lecture:

Cine-Magic of Federico Fellini

The Master at Work - Federico Fellini

A 21st Century education is not complete without appreciation and understanding of Cinema’s Greatest Master: Federico Fellini.

What Shakespeare is to Theater, Fellini is to Cinema.

Why is Fellini Most Important In Our Times?

Federico Fellini captured the imagination of the world. He was more than a film director: he was a film author in complete control of his art. He was awarded five Oscars, more than his peers Bergman and Kurosawa, and his masterpieces, such as La Strada and 8½, are now world classics.


The penetrating, subtle, and bizarre nature of Federico’s motion paintings created with light, color, and sound left most “cinema experts” inebriated and often too bewildered to fathom the depth of social vision that mysteriously fascinated millions everywhere by touching a deep level of human hope.

Fellini’s Cinema deserves serious study because, when understood, it gives us an understanding of the human condition that elevates our lives to the possibility of creative greatness.

Fellini saw reality as an undivided continuum across time, space, and dreams. He said:

“Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real”

and added:

“Talking about dreams is like talking about movies, since the cinema uses the language of dreams; years can pass in a second and you can hop from one place to another. It’s a language made of images. And in the real cinema, every object and every light means something, as in a dream.”

Fellini’s views about the unbroken path of life continuing beyond the illusion of death were evident in his never completed film titled: “The Strange Voyage of G. Mastorna,” which will be part of our talks. This will clarify Fellini’s vision of reality and the implied possibilities of a truly personal realization and rise of a first conscious human civilization.

My Friendship and Period of Collaboration with Federico Fellini

My friendship and period of collaboration with Federico Fellini started in my youth. I was 30 years old and Federico was my senior by 10 years at age 40. Our exchange continued from 1960 to about 1964. Many aspects of our lives were similar, including spending a portion of my childhood near Rimini and passing the war period in Rome.

Aldo Vidali with Michelangelo Antonioni

We met through Michelangelo Antonioni, a mutual friend, with whom I was forming a project tentatively called Magic Film, a name Antonioni thought might take Fellini by surprise since the idea of creating a “Magic Films” had been Fellini’s for a long time. Hearing that made me hesitant in using that name, as I admired and liked the Maestro. However, Antonioni justified using it by creating the acronym MAGIC: Michelangelo Antonioni Gruppo Internazionale Cinematografico. So that’s what the project was called.

In fact, when Federico and I met for the first time, our exchange was enhanced by the name MAGIC. My participation in that project was brought to the attention of the press, especially because some of the capital was coming from Texas oil people lured by Italy’s period of great post WWII movie glamour. I had pursued film work in the U.S. Both Fellini and Antonioni were always having difficulty raising capital because they refused to surrender any control of their authorship to the caprices of producers and marketers who always put profit ahead of art.

The subject of magic was quickly brought up by Federico at the table during our first lunch together. He began by repeating his famous line: “Life is magic and pasta,” adding how meeting a young filmmaker coming to Italy from Texas with a wagonload of dollars was nothing less than pure magic. From that day forward, magic, mysteries, and human destiny were the main subjects between Federico and me. He had just finished La Dolce Vita and I was amazed at my good fortune to be learning about directing from him.

Over those few years we exchanged much metaphysical talk, delving into the absurdities of Catholic dogma and the possibility of communication with the dead through dreams, which helped in the development of his early ideas for the screenplay, “The Voyage of Signor Mastorna,” a creative effort which continued for Federico over the next 25 years or so.

In 1964, I left Italy to go to Africa to work on a documentary on the fall of the colonial world. I no longer participated in changes to the script for “The Voyage of Signor Mastorna,” which were many, as Federico continued with other writers.

“The Voyage of Signor Mastorna” was never produced, just as the Antonioni’s MAGIC film project was never accomplished. To this day many superstitious people in Rome’s film world are afraid of even mentioning “The Strange Voyage of Mr. Mastorna.” They believe that Fellini’s exploration in the world beyond death unleashed some very dangerous forces. The reality is different: Fellini did open the possibility of a real dialogue with the dead and that is one of the subjects we will talk about in our course.

Watching Federico as he worked on his episode of “Boccaccio 70,” titled “The Temptations of Dr. Antonio,” and later in May of 1962 on the set of “8-1/2” was very puzzling, as Federico hardly ever followed the rules and methods of other filmmakers, but worked entirely with his own instincts. Eventually, the fog lifted for me and the light of a different Reality dawned. That light and that Reality are the subject of the seminars I will be offering to a few people who may help carry on that very bright flame to others.

To schedule a lecture or course, please contact Aldo Vidali in writing or by email.

Fellini Cine-Magia Studies
245M Mt. Hermon Rd., #307
Scotts Valley CA 95066
Email Aldo Vidali

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