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Beautiful and colorful Fellini's Roma (1972) is a very enjoyable film
with a subtle message and a lot of heart. The magnificent Eternal City,
one of the most famous cities in the world is deservingly the main
character of this very personal for its creator, Maestro Fellini, film
that can be described as a montage of unrelated scenes.
"Roma" consists of three parts. In the beginning, young Federico, the student in his native Rimini, learns about Rome from movies, plays, works of art, and from school history lessons. Then, as a young man, he arrives to Eternal City, strange, loud, and confusing on the outbreak of World War II. The third part takes us to the beginning of 70th when Fellini, the famous master is creating a visually unforgettable, full of life and history portrait of Rome consisting of several vignettes that take us back and forth in time and director's memory.
I think the reason I enjoyed "Roma" is that its vignettes have so much heart and love, irony , and interest to the master's favorite city, its past and present, to its streets, palaces, and cathedrals, and to its people, their laughs, smiles, and tears. Some of the stories are amusing (variety show, first Federico's dinner in one of the outside restaurants where everybody knows everybody) while some are very emotional.
A powerful scene takes place in an underground tunnel where subway construction workers discovered an ancient palace filled with beautiful frescoes of Ancint Rome period that later slowly fade out and disappear before our eyes taking with them a mystery of times long gone.
I loved the fashion show of nuns and priests; I liked the sequence with the prostitutes on display both are typical Fellini's surreal scenes, funny and sad in the same time.
In improvement from "Satyricon," this time, Fellini, did not have any central characters presented in every vignette; and result is more satisfying: this is one of the best documentary style movies that I have seen. The main character in all its stories is Rome and that's the only character we need here.
Some people would complain that this movie has no plot, but does life have
plot? No, of course not! And so this movies goes, from scene to scene,
through memories, collages, documentary footage, hallucinations, with only
one continuous character but hundreds of faces, bits of conversation,
all flowing around just like life when you are very drunk and everything in
life makes sense, no matter how absurd.
This movie contains some stunning scenes: the "ecclesiastical fashion show"; the Roman traffic jam in the rain; the deli-style whorehouse; the family style meal; the discovery and destruction of Roman ruins during the construction of the subway system. You can walk in at any moment on this movie and it doesn't matter, you don't have to follow it to enjoy it. Perhaps this is true of all Fellini movies, I'm not sure -- certainly it's true of another favorite of mine, Satyricon.
ROMA is not the kind of film you may want to watch if you are in the mood for a made for TV movie, but perfect if you want to get away from one. The ultimate cinematic escape, it is a collection of interesting and arresting scenes and images from Rome throughout history. It does not concentrate on history per say, but excerpts Italian society and it's lifestyles from the conformity of Mussolini's time to the hippy-dippy days - in a non-narrative, non-documentary way. Some things change, others stay the same. Don't expect to find much of a plot, but rather moments of great amusement with character and sometimes very involving images. ROMA doesn't insult it's viewers with it's unconventional liberties, and that alone makes it a worthwhile trip to take - even if only once.
Opinions may vary regarding the work of this artist.
One thing is certain: the man had a genius for making any person, place or thing a "Fellini subject": no matter where his camera pointed, what emerged on celluloid was a "Fellini image."
In "Roma" the shot could be a routine traffic jam; with Fellini not an ordinary one. Along the standard highway appears darkly hooded figures--one holding a silhouetted parasol--while a bonfire casually smolders, emitting clouds of black smoke.
It's no longer just a normal freeway but a Felliniesque creation mounted on the surreal palette of a genuine stylist.
Contemplate the quality of his characteristically rapid-paced dialogue, and you'll discover it's less communicative discourse and more self-indulgent chatter.
All the Fellini trademarks are there: big breasted women, clownlike characters, rude Rabelaisian remarks, all to brassy street band accompaniments tooted on worn, cheap instruments.
In some ways "Roma" picks up where "Satyricon" leaves off, minus main characters. It's all an extremely personal vision--and not a little bit weird, rather like temporarily inhabiting the domain of a slightly warped mentality.
Recalling my own visit to the Eternal City, I don't recall experiencing anything like this purgatorian collage. Then again, I suppose what we see is pretty much the result of who we are.
Made just a couple of years after Antonioni filmed his "Zabriskie Point" in Los Angeles, Fellini never "did the foreign thing," opting to remain working on his home terrain.
For Fellini fans and others with an interest in film history, "Roma" occupies a valid place for observation, notation and appreciation.
You may or not like Fellini's extravagance ... and there's plenty to be had
in "Roma". You may dislike the movie going back and forth in time, and
around a period in history which you can't even relate to; you may dislike
the lack of plot, the series of episodes from the director's past or
fantasies. You may not share his vision of Rome, its women, its chaos, its
fascist monuments and its hippies. You may not even be at all interested in
Fellini's world and may find his movies, boring, or uninteresting. This one
will be no exception, then.
Well... After all, we did not all like Citizen Kane either.
For one thing is beyond doubt: Fellini's Roma is a true, genuine, masterpiece, one of the last gems coming out of the relentless, colourful imagination of an Italian director, who from La Strada to Amarcord, in some 15 years of movie-making, was able to concoct classic movies and nothing but. Fellini's Roma is a series of exaggerations (the characters, chaos, the brothels, the nights in Rome...) as Rome can be. It is an absolute tribute to a city one thousand times destroyed, one thousand times reborn, to the "city of illusions" as Gore Vidal puts is. It is above all a tribute to the Romans, who basically "could not care less whether you are alive or dead". And who better to capture this than Federico Fellini?
Everything is revolving around Rome in this movie, its beauty, its decadence, its history, its inhabitants, seen with the eyes of our magnificent Maestro: Fellini. The scene of the war-period theatre is one of the funniest of the whole history of cinema and no subtitle can render it in a proper way, you should live in Rome for years to fully appreciate the dialogues. It's worth seeing for the countless characteristic "faces" that Fellini was used to employ for his movies, giving that special taste to his works we are still call "fellinian" nowadays.
At the opening credits of "Roma", we are informed by our narrator and
director Federico Fellini that this is not a normal film in the
traditional storytelling sense, but more a perception of Rome, the way
Fellini sees it. Sounds interesting? Well, it is, in that one must be
so in love with their city to want to show it to the world through a
series of small stories and shots of random happenings. I can relate: I
have the same love for Melbourne.
We shift from a portrayal of Fellini as a schoolboy with dreams of going to Rome, to a depiction of Fellini as a young man, moving to the city he always wanted to live at. There's also scenes of early 1970s theatre attendance, the almost ritual-like eating habits of the Romans, and then we move onto a documentary-like part of the film where we get to see Fellini's camera crew struggle as they try to capture the hustle and bustle of the entrance into Rome via a major highway, filled with drifters, animals, trucks, hitch-hikers, bikes, and more.
The constant changing in scenes and stories is a bit messy, and could possibly confuse those not understanding what Fellini is trying to do with the film. At some times, I found myself questioning whether what we were being shown was a realistic dramatization of Fellini's past experiences, or some kind of farcical take on Roman culture (see the religious clothing fashion show scene!). The film is quite intriguing, taking in the sexual revolution of the era and putting it up against a city full of tradition. We are also exposed to some of the city's dirty little secrets, such as the surprising popularity of their whorehouses.
It can't be denied that there is something endearing to "Roma" that allows Fellini to get away with a film that doesn't really give you much to take home with you, other than an idea of what Rome was like for someone in 1972, and what kind of life was lead to come to those perceptions. It is somewhat self indulgent, but Fellini does put across the impression that he has something to show you, something he'd like to share with you, because he has loved it for so long, and it still fascinates him on a daily basis.
As I already knew this film was virtually plot less I had not been expecting a great deal from Fellini, but I was given more than a great deal. Fellini sets out on an almost mythical journey through the shocking but wonderfully real City of Rome as he remembers partly as a boy and as a young adult. You could be mistaken for thinking that Fellini was criticising Rome but he is actually praising its vibrancy in a way in which only he can. There is no plot to speak of, just an array of both gritty characters and breathtaking backdrops. I am not surprised that this film has a relatively low rating because most viewers would feel that for a film a plot is essential. However in my opinion Fellini demonstrates that a plot is not always needed to make a film enjoyable, funny and gripping, as he showed with his brilliant account of his growing up in Amarcord. I would definitely urge you to see Fellini's Roma, as it is not an unbelievable storyline, but a pure film, which will grip you with its continuous vibrancies. 9/10
"Roma" is a feature with neither plot nor timeline and composed by an
edition of disconnected footages of Rome, the Eternal City.
Fellini makes a homage to Rome and depicts and entwines moments of the ancient and the modern Rome, such as during the fascist period of Mussolini; building the subway; in a traffic jam; a fashion show for the Church members; brothels with clients and prostitutes on display; repression; ordinary people on the streets and restaurants. For fans of Fellini and Rome, this movie may be a must-see; otherwise, it may be boring and too long.
My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "Roma de Fellini" ("Fellini's Roma")
Whereas a film like 'Bueno Vista Social Club' depicts a poor city in a
charming and loving way this depicts the not so charming aspects of a
relatively rich city, still with lots of heart and irony though. We get
several episodes in this non-documentary like one about traffic, one
about whorehouses, one about peaceful hippies being beaten by the
police, one about the digging of tunnels for the metro system and so
on. There is a frame story about Fellini, first about the young Fellini
learning about the old Roma, then about how Roma is now, its not so
important, but its well integrated into the whole story and shows how
personal this film is.
We get bombarded with the rude, the noisy and the chaos, as usual for Fellini a lots of things are happening all the time so don't watch it while not up and awake so to speak. The implications are many, the comments likewise. Its never sentimental, but it still opts for change.
Wait a minute, isn't the Vatican in Roma(in double sense)? Well, check for yourself.
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