Film Review: ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL
Prova d'orchestra/Orchestra Rehearsal
~ 1978 ~ Written and Directed by Federico FelliniOrchestra Rehearsal
is not technically a "film" (it was made for West German television, though shot on film) and inhabits one of the conventionally agreed upon "lesser" stations of the maestro's work. Similar in scope and technique to his other inventive television documentaries (Fellini: A Director's Notebook
and The Clowns
), Orchestra Rehearsal
blurs the distinctions of fantasy and objectivity that distinguishes the greatest "counter-factual" documentary work. Though styled after a documentary, in this case Fellini presents a tale of social and economic unrest that is contained within the seemingly innocuous focus on the practice habits of a minor orchestra.
In the process, we witness an epic struggle mounting between the unionized musicians (who range from the nostalgic/contented harp player to some anarchic young firebrands) and the conductor. The conductor character emits terrible authority in the grand continental tradition, invoking thoughts of Wagner and other mad geniuses. The extreme tensions that mount, capped by a Lord of the Flies
style frenzy, typify the Fellinian world view. This relatively short film serves as more of an allegory for an embedded distrust circulating among different generations of Europeans, recovering from the shadowing crises of the Second World War and the movements toward revolution of the 1960s.
Taken as a whole, Fellini manages to shatter the myth of the orchestra-unit as a bastion of sanctity for the so-called serious arts. Though this T.V. effort lacks some of his trademark inventiveness until the very end, and despite its relatively limited scope, it reminds of a time when international co-productions on television yielded interesting results.