La Dolce Vita
Directed by Federico Fellini
Written by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, and Brunello Rondi
Riama Film/Cinecitta/Pathe Consortium Cinema/Gray-Film
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
Life is bittersweet in this episodic tale about a man who cannot seem to find anything to hold onto in a world adrift.
Marcello Rubino (Marcello Mastroianni) is a tabloid journalist who works hand and glove with a pack of photographers (who would become known as paparazzi as a result of this film). He spends much of his time collecting tidbits of gossip on Rome’s Via Veneto. Marcello is also constantly up for a good time and collects a number of women from the same location.
The film follows a week in Marcello’s life as each wild night leads to a disillusioning dawn. Included in the episodes are his troubles with his clinging live-in-girlfriend, his encounter with a Swedish sex symbol (Anita Ekberg), a tentative relationship with an heiress (Anouk Aimee), an erzatz miracle, an intellectual salon, and an orgy. All leave Marcello more depressed and less open to an authentic life than previously.
I don’t know what this says about me but I seem to have the same sense of humor as Fellini. From the brilliant opening in which the Christ statue is borne by helicopter to the Vatican to the wistful ending, I am awestruck by the images and smiling throughout. It’s the first of Fellini’s freak shows but I happen to find all the freaks amusing and rather endearing. The film is more than just freaks, however. Marcello, brilliantly portrayed by Mastroianni, is Everyman and we identify with his longing for something better and his desperation. When you think of the scale of the production, it was quite an achievement. The Nino Rota score is iconic. Highly recommended.
La Dolce Vita won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White. It was nominated in the categories of Best Director; Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen; and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White.