Criterion ports everything over from their 2-disc DVD edition including, thankfully, the thick booklet.
First up is the same audio commentary from the 2006 DVD edition featuring film scholars Peter Brunette and Frank Burke. I was actually surprised by this one, more because of the fact that, for a scholarly track, itís rather lively and involving. The two talk about the film and the things in it that are pulled from Felliniís life. They do cover his career as well as those of the filmís cast and talk about the filmís popularity. They also, of course, talk about the flights-of-fancy found throughout and also touch a bit on the filmís presentation of Fascism and offer some historical context. While the track certainly didnít blow me away (it covers the information youíd expect a scholarly track would) having the two pretty much feeding off of each other to keep the track going helps it move along and keep it from being a drag to sit through, even if they can take some of the fun out of the film with their observations. Still, itís rather good and worth a listen.
Following this is a 44-minute documentary made by Criterion about the film, called Felliniís Homecoming, which features various friends and acquaintances that have known him either personally or through work over the years. Participants talk about knowing Fellini and point out where some of the items in the film come from in his personal life. Those involved in the filmís production in one way or another also reflect on the making of it. There are a few surprises in here (specifically that the tobacconist was based on a real individual, if exaggerated in the film) and a couple of amusing anecdotes, though itís slightly hindered by the fact itís almost completely a talking-heads doc, which makes it a bit stale.
An interview with Magli NoŽlówho played Gradiscaóis included next, looking to have been recorded many years ago (I didnít see a date.) Here she talks about how she got the role and the frustrating screen test she had to get through after dropping everything and flying to the set location. She gives some details about her character and what she knew of the actual individual on whom the character is based, ultimately calling her character a ďloose woman.Ē She also talks a little bout Felliniís style and what it was like to work with him. Brief and quick, and filled with some decent information not covered elsewhere in the set, itís worth viewing.
Next up is decent sized gallery of Felliniís Drawings. Navigating through it using your remote, Criterion presents about 14 of Felliniís drawings of the various characters in the film with comparison photos to the ďfinished productĒ, so to speak. Though Felliniís drawings are exaggerated I was surprised by the fact that the actual actors in the roles arenít that far off.
Felliniana is another gallery of sorts, divided into two sections. First we get a rather large photo gallery featuring production photos, poster art from around the world, lobby cards, and press books in a variety of languages. Also found in this section are radio ads, four to be exact, running a total of two-and-a-half minutes. Interesting to listen to but the ďtag lineĒ (ďAmarcord means remember; youíll remember AmarcordĒ) gets a little insufferable when itís repeated again and again.
The next feature are Gideon Bachmann Interviews, audio recordings he made with Fellini and his family and friends. The first interview is 30-minutes and is with Fellini, and the second compilation runs about 59-minutes and is with his friends and family. Fellini talks about his art and movie-making style in general, while the rather exhaustive family/friends interview segment features (which features his sister and mother among others) is more about Fellini personally than his work. I sampled the latter track admittedly and must say that I think only the hardcore Fellini fan will probably want to listen to either, but the inclusion is welcome and Iím still happy Criterion made the effort. Both interviews are again audio-only and play over photos and are in a mix of English and Italian.
Criterion includes a restoration demonstration running 5-minutes showing the improvements Criterion has made in comparison to the original 1998 DVD. It should be noted this is the exact same demonstration that appeared on the 2006 DVD except everything is presented in high-def, which means the transfer from the original DVD, upscaled here, looks a little better than the actual 1998 DVD. Also some of the artifacts from the original transfer arenít as glaring; during one moment where the narrator tries to point out moirť patterns in the old transfer theyíre actually not as bad here as they were in the same demonstration on the 2006 DVD. Still, the improvements are vast and itís an intriguing comparison and a nice demonstration on how restoration technologies have improved over the years.
Criterion then presents a 3-minute deleted scene which unfortunately lacks audio. They do provide a note on the scene (taken from a novelization that includes it) and explain itís about the retrieval of a ring that one of the aristocrats lost down the toilet or sink. Cool little find and itís in surprisingly decent shape.
The disc then closes with a rather awful American theatrical trailer that actually sucks the fun out of the film.
The real gem, though, is the 64-page booklet that looks to have been entirely pulled over from the 2006 DVD edition. It includes a short essay on the film by Sam Rohdie, but most may be interested in My Rimini, an English translation of a collection of reminisces by Fellini on his hometown, Rimini, recalling school, the atmosphere, and the people, a lot of which made its way into Amarcord.
Overall I enjoyed going through everything on here, though admit a couple of the features (the audio interviews specifically) werenít my cup of tea, but Iím pleased with Criterionís effort and itís a big improvement over the original DVD, which was essentially a barebones release. 8/10