Some movies are best explained by telling you what they aren’t and by shooting down theories about what they mean. Federico Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA is one of these, and the following will mostly be embroidery on that point: The movie is best described as a series of provocative scenarios that don’t reduce well to a slug line or any kind of distillation. At least superficially, the film is about Marcello (played by Marcello Mastroianni), a tabloid journalist in Rome that we follow from party to bedroom to photo op in scenes that seem more or less complete in themselves, and only very lightly related by theme and plot. The tapestry of story, in other words, is only loosely woven here.
Tag: La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita – 1960 – dir. Federico Fellini
A master of baroque, neo-realist cinema, Federico Fellini took movies to a new level, turning standard, narrative storytelling on its head and replacing it with poetry. Few, if any, directors since even try to copycat his style, deferring to his one-of-a-kind status as a genius of camera-wielding and a maker of innovative art. He was to the camera what Picasso was to the canvas and made us see Image as we had never seen it before.
La Dolce Vita (translated as “The Sweet Life” or “The Good Life”) stands as a perfect example of Fellini’s genius. One of the most acclaimed European films of the 1960s (indeed, it illustrates “The Swinging Sixties” perhaps better than any other film ever made of that era), it won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, winning for Best Costume Design. Entertainment Weekly named it the 6th greatest movie of all time and it shines now more than it did when it was made because our modern-day society with its attachment to shallow values, instant fame (Warhol’s 15 minutes of “Me”) and universal promiscuity mirrors Fellini’s world view and reveals the director, in addition to his many other gifts, to be a true prophet of the future.
By Mel Cartagena
La Dolce Vita – 1960 – Federico Fellini
The first image we see is a massive statue of Christ being hauled via helicopter over Roman landmarks, to be set atop St. Peter’s Cathedral. On the way there Marcello (Mastroianni) is distracted by a trio of girls sunbathing on the rooftop of a modern apartment building. He makes miming motions to them of writing down their phone numbers, but the noise and confusion get in the way of communications. That night Marcello is on the Via Veneto, scoping out the scandals among the fringe celebrities of Rome, collecting fodder for his gossip column (this is the movie that introduced the world to the word Paparazzo.)
In the opening scenes of what becomes a sprawling visual feast, Fellini shows us the scope and brio of La Dolce Vita. From the highest, holiest towers to the lowest, seediest night clubs, over the course of seven nights and seven dawns, Marcello will scour the heights and depths of Rome for the emotional center he’s missing, and he’ll always come up empty at dawn as a result of communications breakdown.
Written by Kris Tronerud
Italy, 1960. 115 min. Gray- Film, Pathe, Riama Film. Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee, Yvonne Furneaux, Alain Cuny; Music: Nino Rota; Cinematography: Otello Martelli; Produced by: Giuseppe Amato, Angelo Rizzoli; Written by: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli; Directed by: Federico Fellini
Okay, letâ€™s get it out of the way, right off the bat. I think La Dolce Vita is the greatest film ever madeâ€” in fact, a perfect film. A perfect film is one that has no missteps, no awkward moments, no bad performances, nothing to take us â€˜outâ€™ of the film; a film that flows seamlessly and of a single piece, sound and vision working as one, transporting us to the world of the filmmaker for the duration, and making that world a part of who we are for the rest of our lives. There arenâ€™t many of them: Vertigo, The Searchers, Jules and Jim, Blow- Up, The Rules of the Game come to mind. You probably have a nomination of your own. Let me tell you why I think La Dolce Vita is such a film. Or, rather, letâ€™s let one of the characters tell us.