Satyricon [1969]

Trippy is as trippy does, even when you're talking about a movie set in ancient Rome. This 1969 Fellini opus was among the most visually arresting entries in a year when the psychedelic experience was trying to claw its way into every movie coming down the pike. But Fellini, in telling a negligible story about two young men tasting the various pleasures of Nero's hedonistic and priapic reign, aimed for images that jarred as well as seduced. He found humor in freakishness, contrasting beauty and ugliness while effortlessly passing judgment on the emptiness of a life devoted to sensation and personal freedom. More of a fever dream than a linear story, Fellini Satyricon crystallized the director's reputation as a visionary--but may have trapped him into spending the rest of his career (with the exception of Amarcord) trying to top himself in reaching new levels of outrageousness. --Marshall Fine

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