Fellini in Memoriam – The Absurdist Elements of Fellini’s Cinema as a Reflection of our Disrupted COVID-19 Reality

Author: Jytte Holmqvist, HBU/UCLan School of Media, Communication & Creative Industries, UK
Email: Jholmqvist@uclan.ac.uk

Citation: Holmqvist, J. (2022). Fellini in Memoriam – The Absurdist Elements of Fellini’s Cinema as a Reflection of our Disrupted COVID-19 Reality. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.9.1.11


The current COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need to “think outside the box”. As societies across the planet gradually become more interconnected, the dominance of outmoded social practices surrounding human interaction, work, leisure and space is being challenged on a daily basis. Mediatic productions such as film have always presented opportunities for expanding the reach of particular messages and disseminating topical views and perspectives. In honour of Federico Fellini (1920-1993) on the 100th anniversary of his birth, this paper undertakes a comprehensive comparison between the bold and absurdist cinema of the Post-Neorealist filmmaker and today’s also strange and perplexing social environment. Contextualising his cinema within an auteurist framework, we highlight how ground-breaking Fellini was in embracing the unconventional; by doing so he provided a practical guide for navigating contemporary reality. With productions that seduce and impress viewers worldwide, Fellini defied established cinematographic practices, as exemplified by his experimentation with overlapping narrative styles. His films bestir a new way of thinking by generating an anomalous world, one where events take place beyond the scope of what the viewer anticipates as “natural”. But the appraisal of what is “natural” is contingent upon the viewer’s belief structure: by presenting a world where events happen outside the realm of practical expectations, Fellini’s timeless cinema questions outdated belief systems and sets the guidelines for how to navigate the unanticipated complexities of the contemporary world. Reality and fiction merge into one.


absurdism, COVID-19, Fellini, interrupted realities, reality resembling fiction