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It's my third viewing of La Dolce Vita. The first was heavily censored in 1970, and I remember being as upset by jumps in the audio and the visual tracking, than by the powerful anguish the characters exuded. The second was an accidental viewing on television, half-way through the film. The third was yesterday, at a special session, featuring an original copy with subtitles, but reduced to 165 minutes of the 177 or 180 minutes *the* original is supposed to run. One dearly scene I recall from the first or second viewing, is missing in this copy: the start of the bedroom scene between leggy chorus girl Fanny - Magali Noel - and Marcello's father - Annibale Ninchi... And very meaningful it is, so that the following scene between father and son can be fully understood. Anyway, seeing the film now without many sequence jumps, on the big screen and in a fairly good copy, entitles me to follow the big crowd out there who rates this a 10. Having seen several other works by Fellini, I say this is the best. One thing puzzles me: why not more than 2 IMDb users commented on the character Paola, and just one mentioned the actress name, Valeria Ciangottini. She was 15-y-o when she played this character of a blonde girl from Perugia, working in an esplanade by the beach, where Marcello is trying to write a report. She looks so impressively beautiful, and pure (what an exceptional casting that was), that Marcello describes her as an angel from the churches' paintings... Later, he will meet her again at the beach, but there will be just hopeless sign language, as the roar of the sea and the wind cover their desperate try to communicate. For me, this encapsulates all the director's message: that it is sometimes too late for adults to walk back the bridge to purity, and hope, and happiness...
Yes, I too found this movie very engaging, intriguing and technically
beautiful to watch. But, but, but.... not one of the best movies in the
world, not one to take on a desert island with me, not life changing or
as brilliant as people here (and everywhere) seem to think. Perhaps
because it is now so outdated, and so much from a spoilt man of the mid
twentieth century's point of view. I appreciate it and respect it for
what it is, and I'm sure I don't get half of its symbolism. I love its
mode of narrative, the large ensemble scenes which I can see have
influenced Robert Altman and many other great film makers.
But...methinks that those who rave so much about this film have been seduced as badly as Marcello. Who cares about the bloody lifestyles of the rich and famous? Is this really the place to find meaning? I would find a film about the life of the girl Paolo and her family much more meaningful and worthy of my attention. And like in "8 1/2" one has to wonder if Fellini himself would agree - what is the point of making such a film at all? I'm not against art about the aristocracy or the rich and their decline but would prefer something more complex - like "Brideshead Revisited" (the novel) for example. But ultimately it is hard to feel sorry for such people, especially Marcello. His utter contempt for himself at the end of the movie was well deserved and left me depressed and disgusted. I found his degenerate fall just too trite though, using the excuse of Steiner's murder/suicide as justification (a plot twist which while shocking, did not ring true for me). Maybe I'm just not an existentialist.
I might have found this movie more enlightening if I had seen it ten years ago when I was in my twenty's when I was living my own (much tamer!) version of the sweet life, who knows. Certainly we have all been there when we realise that parties, sex, alcohol, beautiful people and sophisticated talk is not all there is to life. Duh! No, for a true, kick in the guts, life changing movie about the inauthenticity of our socially constructed world, and the struggle of the individual to wake up and break free, you can't go past "American Beauty" or "The Truman Show", or many other wonderful movies out there that I feel are far more deserving of the label "classic" and of the adulation that this film seems to inspire.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To even begin to speak of La Dolce Vita is a daunting task in and of
itself. I found that days after viewing it I was left with a sense of
awe that never once went away. Some might complain that it is long, or
confusing, with no definite answers - but those who say that would
probably not take the time to read these comments. For those of you
actually reading this, you know better then to cast aside a work of art
for such petty reasons. La Dolce Vita does not hand anything to you "on
a silver platter" you do have to think for yourself, but the journey to
that state of enlightenment is an awesome and supreme one.
I always found the title of La Dolce Vita fitting, certainly, but ironic, in the utmost effective way possible. Translated, it means "The Sweet Life" and that is exactly what Marcello's character is supposedly mixed up in, but the sweet life is not necessarily a fulfilling one. On the other hand, it is a shallow, superficial one, perhaps easier at times, as one tries to avoid the truths, troubles, and vicissitudes of life - but in the end, one finds that reality is inescapable.
Marcello is a "semi-sleazy gossip journalist" right in the middle of living the so-called "sweet life" and we follow him on many escapades with various friends and people as what slowly culminates in the final scene on the beach, where in a sense, all is revealed.
Breathlessly beautiful, well-scripted, superbly shot, and just phenomenal in every aspect of the word La Dolce Vita "dazzles and amazes." Without giving away any spoilers, I just wish I could stress the absolute beauty, tragedy, and majesty in this amazing film. La Dolce Vita is art at its finest.
Throughout the entire movie I was in awe of each scene, each shot, each utterance - and then when everything builds up, as Marcello is faced with his final decision, we too, as the audience, realize that we have been where he is before, and perhaps we are still there today. We too must decide do we want to live La Dolce Vita or can we "escape?"
"Salvation doesn't lie within four walls," but beauty, entertainment, and magnificence do lie in La Dolce Vita. Fellini at his finest, viewers - prepare to be amazed!
When I finished watching this film the main thing I felt was
frustration - I think my conclusion is that there are lots of good
elements but they aren't well combined.
The opening is promising - the premise is interesting and the striking images and soundtrack impress a character. But then, nothing, the film's stillborn, this frustrating episodic structure means that the initial impetus has dissipated well before the 3 hours are up.
There are lots of things I like about each of the episodes individually - more than just decadence I think there's a tangible menace in the party scenes. The behaviour of the adults is creepily childish (underlined beautifully by the emphatic, infantile sounds of Italian). People are talking all the time, clamouring to be heard, but no one bothers to listen. There's a lot of laughter in those scenes but none of it is shared, there's no compassion, it is the characters' response to the absurd situation they're in - it's a laughter that's hysterical, deranged. I don't think Fellini is being at all subtle about Marcello being in hell - the only way he could make it more obvious would be for the walls to turn to flames. I don't agree with what some reviews said about the viewer too being seduced by the Sweet Life - I was alienated, if not repelled by it from the outset.
My criticisms of the film are twofold. Firstly, if this is the point - that pure materialism is corrosive and cancerous and draws everyone into a hellish solitude - then I don't think the film as a whole communicates it too well. The episodes are not well enough linked - Marcello's hardly marked out as a enough of a "good guy" at the start to be corrupted, and it's only in the last couple of scenes - where we reach true psychosis - that there's a clear downward trajectory. For the rest of the film the plot's too ponderous and I think Fellini tries to throw in far too many side elements in each of the episodes. So in spite of the great direction, the style, the unmistakable soundtrack, the film is without a centre - there's neither a defining moment nor a clear purpose. It's like, if this film were a newspaper article there'd be no headline.
My second criticism is that apart from not making its point terribly well, the point of the film isn't a revelation, it's just not that interesting. So pure materialism is corrosive and rich people can have horrible lives. Well who hasn't realised that yet? Classics are supposed to resonate through the ages - offer an insight that may cease to be new but never ceases to be profound. But the scope of this film is so limited. It seems to me just a belated, panicky, typically Latin response to capitalism - stimulated no doubt by the contact the director had had with the scene he's describing where American style capitalism at its most debauched was imported wholesale into Italy. The film describes this - it doesn't look beyond it at all. Oh, rich film stars committing suicide - yesterday's news. Other people back in the 1960s were foreseeing the voyeurism, the state we've got to now where celebrities are created for the very purpose of being destroyed for public amusement.
And at times this is no more than Catholic moralism. Look at who populates Fellini's realm of the damned - divorcées and homosexuals - the regressive and hysterical moralistic streak in this film detracts greatly from it when viewed today.
A classic should be prescient and profound. This film doesn't really offer any sort of commentary - it's just a portrait of an obviously decadent portion of Italian society in the 1950s, and it's very much of its time.
Fellini, Fellini, Fellini! He is Italy's most well known and celebrated
filmmaker and remains a true icon of cinema to this day. Although he
had already directed a few acclaimed films earlier in his career (ex:
"La Strada" and "Nights of Cabiria"), it was "La dolce vita" that truly
launched his career and made him such a famous filmmaker of
"La dolce vita" is a film about a journalist named Marcello and one crazy week he has in Rome. It doesn't follow a basic plot structure, and is really just a series of events that lead to the memorable ending sequence.
There are many memorable scenes throughout "La dolce vita". The opening with the Jesus statue attached to a helicopter, the fountain sequence with Anita Ekberg (which is perhaps the most famous), and the ending scene on the beach come to mind as highlights, but they certainly aren't the only memorable scenes in this extraordinary film.
Throughout "La dolce vita", Fellini satirizes the paparazzi's obsessive nature, taking photographs at everything they see, and the world's overall obsession with gossip and celebrities. While the film manages to portray the sweet life as a very glamorous way of living, it also showcases its dark side in more dramatic moments. It's also very fun to note that the film actually invented the term paparazzi, because of the obsessive character of Paparazzo.
"La dolce vita" is, at times, very funny, at others nearly heartbreaking, and is always amazingly entertaining. A must-see for any fan of film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I didn't care very much for this movie while I was watching it, but
while taking a walk and thinking about it right after, I was able to
discern the picture's message, even if it wasn't a very uplifting one.
It seems like Fellini was going for alienation and a search for
meaning, and without knowing anything about the director, I would
venture to say that the picture was autobiographical to a large degree.
I could be totally off base, but that's the impression I got.
Most of the characters in the story are fairly pathetic, including the principal player Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni). They engage in self absorbed, hedonistic behavior, living only for today with little regard for anything other than self gratification. The exceedingly fleeting nature of fame and notoriety is given short shrift with the frantic buzzing of the paparazzo running around in circles trying to capture the next big headline or lurid photo for their tabloids. So it comes as a shock when the one seemingly serious character in the story, Steiner (Alain Cuny), proves to be the one who can't cope with his life of achievement and intellectual pursuit and ends it in tragedy. All rather depressing if you think about it.
I guess the main thing that bothered me while watching the story was how random Marcello's day to day encounters turned out to be. There didn't seem to be a sense of continuity to his life and maybe that was the point. Unable to find fulfillment in his relationship with Emma (Yvonne Furneaux), Marcello simply bounced around accepting whatever life handed him on a particular day instead of seeking out something meaningful.
The one character that I was able to identify with most was the young working girl in the café who didn't want to be there. At least she had a purpose in her situation, it was to get out of there when her father finished his job. I got the idea that she might have been smitten by Marcello's attention in complimenting her, which is why I was left somewhat dismayed when she waved to him near the end of the story while standing on the beach. I replayed it a couple of times, and it looked like she was mouthing 'love you' to Marcello, though of course he was too far away to see or hear her. For her to connect with Marcello would have been an unintended consequence waiting to turn into another hopeless situation if that were to happen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Like Ben-Hur, Fellini's La Dolce Vita is a Roman Epic. So much to take in that one viewing is not enough. The satirical beautiful scenes flow from one to another all while looking through the eyes of a charismatic protagonist, Marcello. Although Marcello doesn't have a center, he tries to root himself in many different areas a lot like Travis Bickle. The film is effortless set free to encounter all types of characters and mindsets throughout Rome and that is one of the reasons why it is such a great realistic metaphor for life. The thematic messages that Fellini illustrates can be applied to not only 60's aristocratic Italy,but also to today. The lately relevant term Yolo, encompasses the false sense of a sweet life in the film when morals and ethical codes are ditched to accommodate the use of any one of the seven deadly sins. Of course there are exceptions, but I believe this film has the ability to make its viewers reflect not only on their lives, but the lives of others around them.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had heard about this movie before but never actually saw it until I took an Italian Cinema course at my University. All I have to say is that Fellini is a genius. His work will stand the test of time. After watching the film in my course I just had to go out and buy it. There are so many things that you can miss from only watching it once. You have to watch it many times to be able to pick up on small details that can get overlooked when watching it for the first time. Some people may be discouraged to watch such a long film (it's over 3 hrs) but if you truly appreciate art then this is definitely worth seeing. Marcello Mastroianni completely embodies his character and leaves you wondering "What is the Sweet Life". Obviously "The Sweet Life" is a metaphor and is symbolic. It is definitely not what Marcello's life is in the film but that's the point. Go see it and enjoy it for it's artistic value.
This is the Fellini film that catapulted him to international fame at the beginning of the 60's, and rightly so. While the notoriety and shock value have diminished, the film is just as sensational now as when it appeared, and features timeless imagery that has become the stuff of cinematic legend. A movie filled with extraordinary characters and set pieces, and capped by a jazzy, memorable music score by longtime Fellini collaborator, composer Nino Rota. One of those rare, brilliant movies that should never be underestimated.
Do not get the wrong idea: this movie is not only "artsy", but quite sad at times. But I saw it again recently, and found the end of it very uplifting this time around. I guess that helps to explain its status as a classic: You can go back to it from time to time, and find new beauty.
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