- Fellini Dreaming -

- Fellini Dreaming -

Hyo-shin Na – written for the Korea Times SF – 8/24/2012

In 2008, I came across a recently-published book, Federico Fellini - The Book of Dreams (Rizzoli International Publications Inc. NYC) consisting of 583 pages of drawings and writings by the Italian film director Federico Fellini, describing in great detail the wildly imaginative, fantastic dreams he experienced during the years 1960-1968 and 1973-1990. My attention was especially drawn to a dream he had on February 5, 1965 in which a frantic phone call from his mother follows the tragi-comic death of the circus elephant of his childhood, as I immediately thought of the similarity between this dream and his 1970 film “The Clowns”.


It interested me that it took five years for the dream he wrote down and sketched to take shape as “The Clowns”. Of course, in the intervening time, he must have done a great deal of studying, planning and arm-twisting for the film to happen. Still, the seminal moment was the dream and his act of writing it down. He knew how to keep a part of himself awake, even in the midst of the subconscious state of dreaming (and one can only admire the honesty with which he recorded his often absurd and humiliating dreams!). After seeing “The Clowns” again in 2008, I watched it many more times and, eventually, four years later, wrote a piece for chamber ensemble, which was played for the first time on April 28, 2012 at Cabrillo College.

Let’s imagine two clowns acting silly: one of them knocks the other down and somehow they both end up sprawling on the ground. This is really funny! On the other hand, we have to remember that clowns are among the saddest characters in our world and their goofy antics obscure something that might be just below the surface. Many times I am asked if poetry, painting, birdsong, or the sight of a beautiful tree are inspirations for my music. Yes, daily life is a strong stimulus for composing, but I must also pay attention to that which is running quietly and surely underground.