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  • Dir. Federico Fellini
  • Italy/West Germany
  • 1978
  • 72 min.
  • R
  • DCP

In Italian and German with English subtitles

  • Assistive Listening
  • Subtitled
  • Hearing Loop


Part of Essential Fellini.

Abounding with Federico Fellini’s trademark rich imagery and expressive style, ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL is possibly his most satirical and overtly political film. As well, it marks the final collaboration between Fellini and legendary composer Nino Rota, due to the latter’s death in 1979.

An allegorical pseudo-documentary, the film depicts an Italian TV crew’s visit to a dilapidated auditorium (a converted 13th-century church) to meet an orchestra rehearsing under a tyrannical conductor. The crew interviews the various musicians who each speak lovingly about their chosen instruments But, as petty squabbles break out amid the different factions of the ensemble, the meeting descends into anarchy and vandalism. A destructive crescendo ensues before the musicians regroup — and play together once more in perfect harmony.

Restoration courtesy of Arrow Films and the American Genre Film Archive.

“Like any film worth thinking about more than 60 seconds, it can be interpreted in a number of ways, but it is so complete, so clear, so wise, so humane and so witty, that to interpret it clumsily is to be in danger of dismantling it forever.” —Vincent Canby, New York Times (Aug 17, 1979)

“Like George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL remains topical and prophetic…. There’s a drop of hope for the silent totalitarian regime to lose strength, lest Fellini’s film become a comparison to the current state of affairs.” —Rita Aresta, VultureHound 

“Fellini uses the musical art to refer to the greater society, then has us come back and reflect on this art….” —Robert Castle, Bright Lights Film Journal

The Belcourt Theatre does not provide advisories about subject matter or potential triggering content, as sensitivities vary from person to person.

Beyond the synopses, trailers and review links on our website, other sources of information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense MediaIMDb and as well as through general internet searches.

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