September 24, 1979 12:00 PM

Federico Fellini’s latest film stirred up a furor in Italy, but it’s unlikely to cause more than a ripple elsewhere. It’s about an orchestra that rebels against its conductor; the parallels to Italy’s chaotic political situation and the sharply etched caricatures of politicians would be fully relished only by an Italian. After an agonizingly slow beginning in which the orchestra members describe their instruments, the musicians trash the beautiful 13th-century chapel they rehearse in. That seems to be Fellini taking the position of an anguished outsider: He obviously deplores revolutionary excess, but he equally fears fascist authority (personified by a conductor with a convenient German accent). U.S. audiences can savor at least Fellini’s direction and camera work, his resigned sense of humor and his irresistibly bizarre characters. (In Italian with English subtitles) (Not rated)

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