In interview after interview, down through the decades Woody Allen has spoken repeatedly of his love of Ingmar Bergman and the influenece he’s had upon his films. While Interiors is clearly an homage to Bergman, Cries and Whispers in particular, to me his movies have been much more influenced by the films of Fellini. Stardust Memories is clearly a tip of the cap to 8 1/2, Celebrity to La Dolce Vita, Radio Days to Amarcord and Sweet And Lowdown to La Strada in that they both featured an emotionally crippled protagonist who realizes too late he’s fallen in love with a simple minded young woman.
Kenny, the La Strada connection is very perceptive. Sweet and Lowdown being less tragic, of course. But yes, I just rewatched Amarcord and was reminded of how much the whole structure of Radio Days borrows from it. Amarcord is such a dense text by comparison, though. At its funniest, I think it’s funnier than a lot of Allen’s movies, too. But then, Fellini is generally more of a comic director than Bergman, so that’s another connection with Woody.
Good points Justin. I was even tempted to compare Le notti di Cabiria to Mighty Aphrodite but decided their only real similarities is they both feature a prostitute as a main character.
Also, the last scene of ‘Sweet and Lowdown’ seems to be a direct reference to the last scene of ‘La Strada’.
Stardust memories is totally Woody’s 8 1/2. He said himself said in an interview, “I am not even half of the Fellini of 8 1/2”
Yes, the dream sequence that starts Stardust Memories is very Fellini-esque, with the sensuous woman and the party on the other train. Woody Allen isn’t half of Marcello Mastroinanni, either.
A few Woody Allen films are built around the conceit of a fake documentary (Zelig, Husbands and Wives, Sweet and Lowdown), a device that he may have gotten from Fellini (The Clowns, Roma, Intervista), although Bergman also uses this device at least once that I can think of: at the end of Hour of the Wolf. But Woody Allen’s borrowings aren’t limited to Fellini and Bergman. Manhattan Murder Mystery is basically Rear Window, for example.
That’s a great point Jeff D about the fake documentary device although Allen did also use it as early as 1969 with Take The Money and Run. Perhaps no director has used it as well as Fellini did with Roma.
Fellini also used it as early as 1969 in Director’s Notebook, which I believe was made for American television.
Another Woody Allen movie that bears comparison to a Fellini movie is Alice to Juliet of the Spirits.
Woody Allen adresses the camera in Annie Hall like several characters do in Amarcord
I would think that Purple Rose of Cairo was inspired by The White Sheik, a movie I know Woody loves.
More good points and similarities than I was aware of.
Fellini seems to be the bigger influence primarily because of the fact that he was a lot more unneurotic, a lot less austere and not as rigorous as Bergman was. If u watch Fellini’s films there are always moments of quiet humor in them. Like in 81/2, u see Guido being sorrounded by his cast and crew asking him for directions, he sees a person coming ,quietly avoids talking to him by taking another guy in his fold and whispering in his ear, “I just called you, cos I did not want to talk to that guy”.. Also, Fellini’s films are soaked in a dream-like structure. Bergman’s films were probably born out of his own dreams, but they were then religiously fitted into a certain kind of worldly realism.
But then at the end of the day, I always watch Woody’s films to see the fun of it, to revel in the parody it brings with itself.
They should only be seen as approximations of something great that has been done before. To me, they are mere condensations..