Watch the full film on the
Welcome to Fandor. Watch thousands of award-winning films online. ×
also known as I clowns

The Clowns1970

  • 4.0
Federico Fellini's fascination with the circus and the surreal come to a head in one of his final masterpieces, THE CLOWNS. The film reflects Fellini's childhood obsession with clowns and begins with a young boy watching a circus set up from his bedroom window. Though comical and referred to as a "docu-comedy," THE CLOWNS explores deeper human conditions that resonate through the various performers (who vary from a local sex-crazed hobo, a midget nun and a mutilated Mussolini disciple). The film diverges from its narrative and dreamy state to a more documentary like approach as Fellini searches out these jesters of his youth in Paris to see what has become of them ending with a funeral for one of the clowns. The carnival sounding score composed by Nino Rota and a cameo appearance by Anita Ekberg, the star of his 1960s masterpiece, LA DOLCE VITA, enhances the Fellini-esque experience.

Copy embed code

×

What makes this film worth watching? See All Reviews

"...it would be impossible to dislike a film so full of good spirits, so full of love, a show that on occasion virtually erupts with brilliance." - Vincent Canby, the New York Times


5 members like this review

Fantastic. What a treat to find another great Fellini movie to watch. Never heard of this one before now. The music was wonderful, especially the ending scenes. I never know what I am going to discover when I tune in to Fandor and always beautifully restored.

77fdb7fed0480f05741933da0c094d40?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0053
top reviewer

Member Reviews (10)

77fdb7fed0480f05741933da0c094d40?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0053
top reviewer

Fantastic. What a treat to find another great Fellini movie to watch. Never heard of this one before now. The music was wonderful, especially the ending scenes. I never know what I am going to discover when I tune in to Fandor and always beautifully restored.

5 members like this review
Picture?width=100&height=100
top reviewer

Fellini directs a pseudo-documentary about clowns and their rapidly vanishing place in European society. He dramatizes his first visit to the circus and his reaction to the clowns and how they reminded him of some odd people who lived in his village. He then travels around Europe interviewing famous, aging clowns. The film ends with a 20 minute clown performance. Parts of this work for me, parts really don't. The dramatizations and the clown performances are fantastic. The documentary segment really isn't. Fellini inserts himself and his "crew" (obviously fake) into the documentary segments, adding some bad comedy and taking time away from the interviews. Consequently, the interviews seem pretty light on content. I don't think you learn anything particularly interesting about clowns.

1 member likes this review
Picture?width=100&height=100
top reviewer

Save your weed friends, you won't need it for this one. Let it happen, don't try to think about it, it all comes together in it's own subjective way. A lot about Fellini, a lot about the characters we encounter everyday in life, a lot about ourselves. An epic masterpiece. A painting, a poem, a song.

1 member likes this review
Ff228656fc3cffbf927e51ce21e1324c?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2ffemale%2favatar f 0088
top reviewer

*I do not know the intent of the filmmaker = reviews are typically nothing but opinion and speculation. This one is no different.*

This is easily one of Fellini's lesser known works. However, despite this is by no means second tier work. Originally broadcast on television in Italy, It's bookended by two sections that are easily the funniest scenes Fellini ever did and it had me laughing at the absolute insanity of it all - which is significant coming from a person who absolutely hates clowns.

It's about clowns yes, and Fellini's interest in circus imagery is well known, but it's also a potent vehicle for him to explore a number of the other subjects that preoccupied his work: a way of life lost in the then-modern era, childhood, nostalgia, also the beauty and sadness the human spirit experiences through a life. It's also a well used opportunity for his skill of making his cast seem like caricatures straight out of his comic and dream journal artwork.

As with a lot of late Fellini this is not really a narrative film so much as a journey though the subjects he covers, like an incredibly cinematic essay with the maestro and his ridiculous crew as your tour guides. It's very similar to Fellini: A Director's Notebook, Roma, and Intervista. If you've seen those Fellini films and liked them I highly recommend this one.

20e2d34fa40e8f79b2cadb5e6bab5e0d?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0013
top reviewer

So many laughs and moments of warm humanity! The circus thrills and clown acts are so captivating, it’s hard to believe this film documents their demise. The memories and recreations show the universal appeal of the performances, while the interviews with the retired elderly performers and their families are moving and nearly as colorful as the shows. A wonderful tribute to clowning and circuses.

4f747bee28504a71c73e3b230d222884?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0089
top reviewer

Worth watching for the very brief appearance of Charlie Chaplin's daughter Victoria. She only appears for a few seconds but her instantly recognizable smile was the high point of the film for me.

104821.small
top reviewer

The power of a film to communicate what seems utterly impossible to put into words feels awesomely evident after seeing 'The Clowns' ('I Clowns'). I cannot begin to express how much it seems to have affected my - whatever one calls mental activity that mostly bypasses words.

I think that non verbal energy is the source of not merely various kinds of technical or mechanical (having to do with mechanical designs or devices) problem solving but also story telling (which at first may seem a bit paradoxical as stories are so often and have so often through human history been expressed in words, yet I have found this to be the case in my own story telling). I do not know how it would be for others (different gloves fit different hands differently) but for me seeing this film has been a major experience.

Fellini's philosophical perspective of the world of theatricality and how the is that isn't and the isn't that is, affects our lives. Great performers, giving us a world that is no more except in the memory of those who performed, and told us about it through Fellini's ever imaginative direction , and those of us who saw it. Superb costumes, sets and music .

I found it uneven. The beginning was more engaging, with the parallel between clowns and the village people of the narrator's youth being shown. The later documentary/mockumentary style interviews and portrayals were interesting, but less, for me at least, emotional. As well, in the last part of the film there were several instances of the clowns' act, from what I saw, being aided by the camera and studio rigging. If I'm correct about this, I feel it out of place, as if the great traditions of the clowns was being bastardized. I think the clowns that Fellini so loved would have been better served by a more straightforward documentary, and a self-reflective short afterward where he would have been able to put his artistry, and the first part of the film, to proper use. Still, it is well worth watching for any Fellini fan.

beautifully filmed, great music