Fellini’s Satyricon 1969 Summary by Junior Nguyen

Today on February 27th, I attended a screening of Fellini’s Satyricon (1969). The movie was in Italian, and though I never studied Italian, Latin was able to provide me some translation of the screening with similarities between both languages (e.g. gracias= thanks, curre!=run!). In summary of the movie, it follows the main character is Encolpius, a character who is in love with Giton and they have a homosexual relationship. Between their relationship is the joyfully arrogant Ascyltus.

The story was difficult to understand due to sudden transition from a group of characters to another, but the beginning is a brawl between Encolpius and Ascyltus who fight over Giton’s love. The environment seemed to be a jail cell, and the population of poor slaves. What stood out to me in the art of the movie is how hellish it seemed, as for someone without context the movie appeared apocalyptic and filled with despair. Encolpius takes back Giton from Vernacchio, an actor with a pig mask. Encolpius and Giton sleep together in a bed and make love, but Ascyltus appears and takes half of Encolpius’ belongings. Ascyltus also made Giton to choose between the two men, and Giton chose to be with Asycltus which broke Encolpius’ heart.

A short story that appeared is the story of Trimalchio, a wealthy man. I think he enacted his own death, and his wife loses him and weeps for days with an intent to starve herself. A guard who watches over a hungman comes to the widow’s aid, and offers her a new love but also fails in his job of making sure nobody takes the hanging corpse. The widow and guard make out and the story cuts. According to my research, this is a story within a story and I do not quite understand the reasoning for this.

Encolpius, Giton, and Ascyltus are captured by Lichas, a old man who falls in love with Encolpius and forces a marriage. Ascyltus taunts Encolpius and laughs at the marriage, which is a common character of him. Caesar dies and a new emperor is in place, which forces old slave-owners to free their slaves. Encolpius and Ascyltus escape from the slave ship of the overturned Lichas, and move into a home of former slave-owners. Both Encolpius and Ascyltus flee from this home and hear about a demigod who has magical healing powers.

The two steal the demigod but the demigod dies of thirst in the desert. Encolpius has to brawl a “minotaur”, a man with a helmet who is able to overpower Encolpius. Encolpius proposes his poetic powers to the clan of people to spare him, then he has to make love to a woman but fails to do so because of a erectile dysfunction. 

Encolpius goes on a quest with Ascyltus to regain his “potence” and successfully does so, but Ascyltus dies due to a brawl with the ship captain. Encolpius sets sail to find new lands.