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477 Ratings

The Clowns

I clowns

Directed by Federico Fellini
Italy, West Germany, 1970
Comedy, Fantasy


A young boy watches a circus get constructed outside his bedroom window—thus begins Federico Fellini’s “docu-comedy”, a personal, genre-bending ode to one of his lifelong obsessions.

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The Clowns Directed by Federico Fellini

Awards & Festivals

Venice Film Festival

1970 | Winner: Best Italian Film (Pasinetti Award)

National Board of Review

1972 | Winner: Top Foreign Films

Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists

1971 | Winner: Best Costume Design

1971 | Nominee: Best Score

What are people saying?

  • Ben Dooley's rating of the film The Clowns

    A highly imaginative history of clowning: part mockumentary, part dream-memoir and part loving tribute to a dying art. It's beautifully constructed and gets at the dark side of clowning, culminating in an elaborate confrontation with mortality in a clown funeral. And it feels early for such a precise take-down of cinema verite’s clichés, influenced by earlier debates about neo-realism. One of Fellini’s very best …

  • Dogville59's rating of the film The Clowns

    A wonderful tribute to clowns and circuses. Fellini mixes history, clown performances and poignancy to say good bye to clowns because circuses are disappearing. Audiences are too sophisticated for circus and clown acts it would appear. Fellini touches on endings, death, aging, and loss all intermingled with the humour of clown acts. A great film and all because a boy loved the circus.

  •'s rating of the film The Clowns

    Wow. Multi-dimensional ode to an entrancing cultural archetype. A moving documentary flanked by very different circus experiences, one recalled by Fellini from childhood, the other an astounding performance staged by him as a mature artist. The only mediation between imagination and film is a profound intelligence that heightens the vivid brilliance of every image, every routine. Reaches deep into collective memory.

  • FilmEdie's rating of the film The Clowns

    Manic and hilarious and touching and surreal and entirely delightful... Fellini's cheeky disregard for genre conventions is a perfect tribute to the art of clowning... Through whimsy and satire and melodrama and self-deprecation, the film - like the art - reveals something deeply human in a way we probably (maybe tragically!) don't see enough of anymore.

  • msmichel's rating of the film The Clowns

    Fellini followed up 'Satyricon' with this made for television film which was an affectionate hybrid of documentary and staged tribute to the dying art of being a clown. While never boring to watch one wonders at the earnestness of the endeavour. At one point one asks Fellini "What is this supposed to symbolize Maestro?" yet no answer was given or forthcoming. A strange but interesting exercise.

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film The Clowns

    A sketchbook, but what a warm and inventive sketchbook it is! Slipped between "major" (and less enjoyable) films, it's also something of a skeleton key. Fellini the impresario would put on better shows, but I can't think of another film of his that so eloquently gets at the how and why of his attraction to bizarre imagery. And I'm more convinced than ever that few directors more intuitively knew how to end a film.

  • Richmond Hill's rating of the film The Clowns

    Fellini in a minor key with about half a dozen approaches to the theme of clowning. More hits than misses but not one I'll be returning to in any hurry. The mélange of Rota scores is about as useful a summary of his body of work as you're likely to get.

  • 張大智's rating of the film The Clowns

    Some of the most beautiful moments in Fellini's career. The oddities, the melancholy and the great magical show.. All the quintessential elements from the man's cinema are here, packaged wonderfully, in a documentary/fantasy that felt to me like his most autobiographic film. And I just loved the inclusion of Little Nemo, Fellini's childhood hero.. I'm glad he found the dream to put him in :).

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