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Marco Ferreri; Director’s Films Explored the Bizarre

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Marco Ferreri, the Italian film director who delved into perversion and folly in films like “La Grande Bouffe,” about people eating themselves to death, died of a heart attack in a Paris hospital Friday. He was 69.

“The Italian cinema has lost one of its most original artists, one of its most personal authors,” said Gilles Jacob, an official of the Cannes Film Festival.

“No one was more demanding nor more allegorical than he in showing the state of crisis of contemporary man. The Cannes Film Festival, which screened eight of his films and gave three of them prizes, will not forget him.”

Ferreri’s 1973 satire “La Grande Bouffe,” about a group of wealthy friends who eat and drink themselves to death in an orgiastic blowout, skewered the folly of a society with nothing left but consumerism. It starred Marcello Mastroianni.

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The Italian director also won international attention with his American feature, “Tales of Ordinary Madness,” drawn from several short stories by Charles Bukowski, the late poet laureate of Los Angeles low life.

The 1983 film, starring Ben Gazzara as Bukowski’s alter ego, was rated “a great bad movie” by Times film critic Kevin Thomas.

“It’s easy to understand how Ferreri, master of the macabre, would be drawn to Bukowski, whose reputation has been greater abroad than at home,” wrote Thomas. “Both have a strong taste for the bizarre.”

Ferreri screened “La Carne” (Flesh)--a lurid tale of a love so obsessive that it culminates with the man killing his girlfriend, storing her in the fridge and eating her--at Cannes in 1991.

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His works also included “La Casa del Sorriso” (House of Smiles), about love and sex in a for elderly people. It won a Golden Bear award for best picture at the Berlin Film Festival in 1991.

“The cinema has always been a place open to everyone,” Ferreri once said. “When the cinema arrived, for a few cents, people who were rich or poor finally found themselves laughing and crying together.”


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