This is a documentary about movies. It is also a masterpiece that can be appreciated on it’s own terms. IL MIO VIAGGIO IN ITALIA is an essay film that uses clips from Italian masters(Visconti, DeSica, Fellini, Antonioni and above all RossellinI) not in the club footed manner of Oscar montages, but with the care and attention of detail of an art historian contemplating Renaissance architecture. It’s like the scene in F FOR FAKE when Welles lookes at the Chartes cathedral, the same sense of elegy and beauty, and defiance.
But just as importantly, the film is about Scorsese himself. He begins by noting that the total absence of non-American films in the cultural landscape and the influence these films had on him. Then he shares recently uncovered video footage of his father(who Scorsese resembles a great deal) as a young man and then footage of street life in New York as a boy. The film goes through each Italian film step-by-step, inch-by-inch and the effect generated by the use of the clips is very poetic. At the end of the film, Scorsese talks about Fellini’s 8 1/2, a film about a film-maker who goes through a period of crisis, of reflection and then resumes rejuvenated and full of affirmation of life.