A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
Journalist and man-about-town Marcello struggles to find his place in the world, torn between the allure of Rome's elite social scene and the stifling domesticity offered by his girlfriend, all the while searching for a way to become a serious writer. Written by
Credit for the creation of Steiner goes to co-screenwriter Tullio Pinelli. Having gone to school with Italian novelist Cesare Pavese, Pinelli had closely followed the writer's career and felt that his over-intellectualism had become emotionally sterile, leading to his suicide in a Turin hotel in 1950. This idea of a "burnt-out existence" is carried over to Steiner in the party episode where the sounds of nature are not to be experienced first-hand by himself and his guests but in the virtual world of tape recordings. See more »
In the castle, Marcello lights a match to view some ancestral paintings. A spotlight is used to enhance the light of this match, but does not follow the actor's movements very closely and gives the illusion away. See more »
A man who agrees to live like this is a finished man, he's nothing but a worm! I don't believe in your aggressive, sticky, maternal love! I don't want it, I have no use for it! This isn't love, it's brutalization!
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life imitates art? art imitates life? a bit of both?
I just saw a new print of this wonderful film after not having seen it for maybe 20 years and it is still spellbinding. Fellini sums up an era and an attitude here, and succeeds in doing something that ought to be impossible: he makes a full and meaningful film about empty and meaningless lives. Mastroianni seems to have been to Fellini what DeNiro has been to Scorsese--a perfect embodiment of a personal vision. What a wonderful actor he was--brilliant in his youth and in his age. Many other performers are hardly less fine here, and the cinematography and composition are stunning throughout. There are so many indelible images from this film, images that have become iconic over the decades: Ekberg in the Fontana di Trevi, the statue of Christ flying over Rome, the astonishing, candlelit procession at the castle, to name a few. It seems plot less and yet it isn't plot less at all; Marcello's ultimately fruitless search for meaning, a search that he abandons in the end, as he stares across a slight and yet unbridgable abyss on the beach at a lovely young girl who seems to possess the knowledge and understanding that is denied to him. I'm astonished at the number of people who don't get this movie, who seem to think that Fellini expects us to admire the bizarre characters who people the film, or who think that a movie about worthless individuals must be a worthless movie, or who don't seem to understand that movies that are full of what become clichés usually do so because they capture an important vision. Fellini made several exceptional films: 81/2, La Strada, Amarcord, and The Nights of Cabiria come to mind, but La Dolce Vita may be, when all is said and done, his masterwork.
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