David Lynch and Federico Fellini are two pioneering figures to have shaped the course of cinematic history, with a special emphasis on the world of visual surrealism. Through their brilliant masterpieces such as 8½ and Eraserhead, the two of them have taught the world that films can operate like meaningful, terrifying dreams that can access our subconscious secrets.
In an interview, David Lynch declared that he was a true admirer of Fellini’s works: “I love Fellini,” he said enthusiastically. While talking about the legendary auteur, Lynch recalled how he had met Fellini by chance: “I found myself south of Rome [for] the first time because I was going with Isabella Rossellini and she was in a film called Dark Eyes.”
Continuing, “[Directed by] Mikhalkov, Marcello Mastroianni and Silvana Mangano were in that film. I’d worked with Silvana before, she was the wife of Dino De Laurentiis. So we had dinner, Marcello, Silvana, Isabella and I in an outdoor restaurant [during] mushroom season. So there were mushroom starters, another course with different mushrooms, more courses with mushrooms and the main course was mushroom like a steak!”
During their dinner conversation, Mastroianni discovered that Lynch was a huge fan of Fellini’s works and took it upon himself to make the two meet while Fellini was filming Intervista. Lynch said: “Next morning, I come out of the hotel – there’s Marcello Mastroianni’s car and driver with instructions to take me into Cinecittà and I spent the whole day with Fellini. It was so beautiful.”
A few years later, in 1993, David Lynch got to meet his filmmaking hero again thanks to pasta. “I was shooting a commercial in Rome – Barilla Pasta commercial – with Gérard Depardieu and Tonino Delli Colli was the DP,” Lynch revealed and it was during this time that he ran into Fellini’s niece Francesca.
Fellini was hospitalised at the time and he was being transferred to one in Rome which gave Lynch the opportunity to request a meeting with him. Thanks to Francesca, Lynch and Tonino got to enter Fellini’s hospital room where the American surrealist sat down with the Italian master who was in a wheelchair at the time.
Lynch elaborated: “He holds my hand and we talk for half an hour, so beautiful. At the end of the talk, I said: ‘Mr. Fellini, the whole world is waiting for your next film.’ He smiled and waved goodbye, out I went. Next day, we go back to Paris and [while] watching television, [I] hear ‘Fellini has gone into a coma.’ How lucky was I to have that last visit.”