Federico Fellini and the White ClownsrnbyR.H.W.DillardrnNear the beginning of Federico Fellini’s Intervista (1988), arnvery large camera crane is about to rise, wreathed inrnsmoke and artificial moonlight, high above the soundstages ofrnCinecitta. One of the camera operators calls down to his directorrn(Fellini being played by Fellini), “Aren’t you coming up?”rn”No,” Fellini immediately replies, “I can imagine it from here.”rnThe cameraman shrugs, turns to his colleague on the crane,rnand says, “What did I tell you?”rnThat brief exchange about sums it up: both the distinctivernpersonal, imaginative, and visionary quality of Fellini’s cinemarnand, at the same time, the response of his detractors, who forrnyears have claimed that his work is composed of predictablernand repetitive fantasies, without experiential, intellectual, orrnideological content. But, in fact, the only truly predictablernthing about Fellini’s films over the years was the response of therncritics, repeating in chorus “What did I tell you?” or perhaps arnReaganesque “There you go again.”rnIdeologues and social (as well as socialist) realists have alwaysrnbeen uncomfortable with Fellini, so it came as no great surprisernwhen on the day of Fellini’s death National Public Radio’s AllrnThings Considered trotted out an insignificant critic named StefanrnScheiss (or something very like that) to denounce him, torndeclare that he was without artistic or social importance, to averrnthat his work had no influence on the history and developmentrnR.H.W. Dillard is a professor of English at Hollins College inrnHollins College, Virginia.rnof film art, and generally to “dis” him. After all. Shorty Shriftrn(or whoever) was just joining a long line of attackers from thernright and the left who have accused Fellini of not being politicallyrncorrect. He was subject throughout his career to Churchrninterference and censorship on the one hand and, on the other,rnto attacks in the press from Marxist intellectuals, which evenrnled on occasion to actual brawls, such as the one that followedrnFranco Zeffirelli blowing a noisy whistle to disrupt the ceremoniesrnawarding La Strada a Silver Lion at the Venice FilmrnF’estival in 1954.rnFellini, however, discovered the best way of dealing with hisrnpompous critics: he simply wrote them into his films, madernthem a part of that cinematic world they despised so much.rnThink of the sterile intellectuals in his films, the infanticidalrnSteiner in La Dolce Vita (1959) or the French intellectualrnDaumier in 8-1/2 (1963) who urges the director Guido Anselmirnto achieve that purest of artistic expressions—silence. (Bothrnof them, by the way, in look and behavior, are clearly allusionsrnto Hjalmar Poelzig, played by Boris Karloff in Edgar G. Ulmer’srnThe Black Cat [1935], the intellectual architect who lives in arncold, bare, modernist mansion built on the ruins of the fortressrnhe betrayed in the First World War and who murders his beautifulrnyoung wives and preserves them in glass cases to be perfectrnforever.) Or, in a lighter vein, think of the gloating reporter inrn8-1/2 who gleefully says of Guido, “He’s lost! He has nothingrnto say!” Or the woman who says offscreen during the credits ofrnCity of Women (1980), “With Marcello, again? Please, Mae-rn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn