Question(s) 1: To a great degree, the visual look of the film is designed to be very colorful and bright and upbeat. This is done as a means to creating a bright and optimistic realm and this underscores the notion that the characters in the film have a sense of bright and cheery innocence.
(To aid in the underscoring of this Fellini uses many actors who look “natural” as opposed to cinematic stars who are removed from the type of people whom we see in actual life) Ultimately, this makes the film more believable to the audience as it embodies a look that is similar to looking out a window and seeing your hometown as opposed to looking up at a screen and seeing a motion picture that is removed from reality and, to a degree, removed from any emotional attachment to the themes of revisiting one’s youth.
Question(s) 2: To a great degree, the shots and editing of the film are designed to create a certain ambiance and mood that ties the environment of the film (the setting) with the motivations of the characters (the themes) This is seen at the outset of the film where the excessive snow creates a sharp depth of field between the characters, the environment and the setting. The purpose of this would be the fact that it is designed to emphasize the notion of change (as the seasons change) and reminiscing (as the seasons return).
Question(s) 3: There is really no dominant line of action or traditional narrative to the film because it does not follow the traditional linear action within the three act structure. Yes, the film does follow a three act structure of a beginning, middle and end because if it did not it would be a disjointed film with no comprehension to the proceedings. However, it does have a tendency to “fly off” into various aspects of non-narrative storytelling and flashbacks that are designed more to flesh out the characters rather than to push the narrative storyline forward.
Such “disjointed” storytelling has always been a Fellini trademark so to speak and it works because he is able to tie everything together by similar themes and connect all various storylines in the conclusion. This may be a radical departure from traditional narrative storytelling, but it is not wrong or misguided in its presentation as Fellini had the rare skill of being able to make such radical filmmaking succeed where it would have failed in lesser hands.
In a way, this is a film similar to Fellini’s classic work OTTO E MEZZO (8 ?) where much of the film is autobiographical and deals with the interrelation of the main character (who is really Fellini) and the other characters in the film. Question(s) 4: To try and define the explicit and latent meaning of the film is somewhat difficult mainly because Fellini was never a director to hit audiences over the head with his themes. Instead, his themes were generally understated, but clear if a person were to pay close attention to the film and look for the subtext that existed underneath the surface.
To a certain degree, the main meaning of the film is that we must all undergo change. People change in the same way the seasons change as time progresses and they grow up. However, there is a latent meaning at work here because even though seasons change, they repeat as well. Winter to spring to summer to fall to winter again, for example. Similarly, while people age and mature there will be desires to relive their youth and that can often represent a return to the past making life not so much progressive as it is circular.