Watch This: Fellini On LSD
2020 is the Centennial of the Italian Director Federico Fellini’s birth. For many years his name was synonymous with the outré in film, before his acolyte and great admirer David Lynch assumed that mantle in the public discourse. Fellini’s visual style, which brought together great beauty and grotesquerie in the same gorgeously composed frame, greatly influenced the whole culture during the ’60s – an era which still resounds with a particularly loud echo today.
It is perhaps not so surprising that Fellini would be drawn to that other great visual influence of the ’60s, LSD. In the following 1966 interview he talks, in his imperfect but evocative English, about his sole experience with the drug, how he feels that artists are already frequent travelers between the conscious and unconscious mind, and about his experience of color, which you can perhaps see as influential on his first color films JULIET OF THE SPIRITS (1965) and his SPIRITS OF THE DEAD segment TOBY DAMMIT (1968).
“I remember I had some exaltation about color. I see colors not like they are normally – we see colors in the object. In this case, I saw colors, just as they are, detached from the object. I had for the first time the feeling of the presence of the color in a detached way.
“Taking this drug, LSD-25, reality becomes objective… so reality is innocence, is pure, and is of divine beauty. In the same moment that the reality becomes to you this divine beauty, there is also the other side, reality is just of divine beauty because we don’t give any meaning to it, as is innocence. But in the same moment, to not give meaning to reality means that you don’t understand reality any longer. Reality becomes scenes without any meaning. So you can become a saint or you can become a crazy man.”