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Well-made but a bit tiring...
MartinHafer7 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, get ready and hold onto your hats folks, as I was NOT 100% enthralled with this film and think it's a bit overrated. Yes, this of course if the signal that you should NOT read any more but simply mark my review as "not helpful" because my opinion differs from the norm. I actually get this a lot if I buck popular wisdom but shouldn't a review try to say something different other than "I agree with you and everyone else"? Now don't misunderstand me--I did NOT dislike the film nor do I say it was poorly made. But the film's messages about fame and the pointlessness of life got rather tiresome to me after a while. Plus, while at first the film seems to say that certain lifestyles or types of people are hollow and banal, the final message of the overall film seems to be ALL life is pointless. I really enjoyed the scenes with Anita Ekberg--they remind me of the pointless adulation of celebrity today (such as Anna Nicole Smith) but after a while it seemed that Fellini was pretty much lampooning and condemning everything and leaving the viewer with the possible conclusion that life is meaningless so you may as well become an idiot (like Marcello had become by the end of the film). In many ways, though the movie is often upbeat and trivial, the meta-message is much more depressing and cold than that many Bergman films. I at least liked to have seen SOME spark of hope or at least a movie that didn't go on for so long that it left me a bit depressed.

Overall, not a bad film at all, but there are many Fellini films I prefer, such as WHITE SHEIK, LA STRADA and AMARCORD.
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La Dolce Vita is a wonder to behold!
TheLittleSongbird27 January 2011
This was a movie that I didn't see until recently. After seeing it, I am kicking myself for not having seen it earlier. It is a simply wonderful film, and one of the best movies of the 60s. It is a scathing satire on the decadence of contemporary Italy and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, and Fellini's reputation for flamboyant and controversial imagery and subject matter can be seen in full flight here. In no way is that a bad thing, I loved the subject matter La Dolce Vita took and it dealt with it in a superb way. It may be a scathing satire, but it is also a surprisingly mature and poignant film as well.

While over two and a half hours long, La Dolce Vita is never dull, or at least not to me, because everything is so well done the film just engrosses you. The script is truly excellent and easy to understand and the story is a brilliantly written(if episodic) one too with some wonderfully constructed scenes-loved the musical sequence best of all, and the encounter with Anita Ekberg in Rome's Trevi Fountain is unforgettable. Fellini's direction is outstanding and one of the main reasons why La Dolce Vita is as good as it is.

From a visual stand point, La Dolce Vita cannot be faulted either. The cinematography is simply gorgeous as are the immaculate production values. In fact, I don't know about anyone else but this is one of the most visually beautiful films I have seen in a while now. Nina Rota's score is one of his best, it is very beautiful and memorable. The acting I found little to fault either. Marcello Mastroianni is absolutely wonderful playing a wholly credible if somewhat unsympathetic character, and all the acting and characterisations are on par too.

All in all, this film is a masterpiece and for those who haven't seen it already, I recommend it highly. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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SnoopyStyle10 May 2016
Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a man-about-town and a gossip journalist in Rome. His girlfriend Emma overdoses and recovers. Swedish-American bombshell Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) arrives and hangs out with Marcello while the Paparazzo hounds them. Her boyfriend Robert gets angry and hits him. As his series of adventures continue, there is an emptiness to it all and a meaninglessness to his life.

This iconic film has a disjointed narrative structure. It has many sections without the connective tissue. It's a tough watch especially for a three hour movie. It's exhilarating for a long time but it gets tiring by the end. The sad emptiness infects the viewing experience. The lifestyle is thoroughly modern celebrity world. The thrill disapates. Its iconic nature deserves extra points, but this is strictly for film fans.
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Watched It Several Times/Hope Someday to Really Understand It
Hitchcoc8 December 2016
When I watch this film, all I focus on is Marcello's character. Obviously, everything revolves around him and comes into his person. The sweet life is a paradox because the only sweetness is in the wealth and over indulgence of the characters. For these people, the sweet life is moving through life without purpose or accomplishment. Their lives are designed to impress others, but the others aren't worth impressing. So Marcello sits back and observes. He participates but is never happy. He indulges but gets no enjoyment. He is faced with his own mortality and dies a little each day. He wakes up the next day without a connection to real life. Anyway, that's a little speech and it may completely miss the mark because Fellini is so complex and such a master of the crazy world he presents, I could be all wet. Thank God for films like this because they make us think and rethink.
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Hardly a classic, but a pretty interesting movie nonetheless
Horst_In_Translation15 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"La dolce vita" is a mostly Italian-language film from 1960 and it is among the career-defining works of director Federico Fellini, who is also one of the many many writers contributing to the script of this one. But as the film runs for almost three hours, it is not too surprising the screenplay crew includes so many names. By the way, one of them is another Italian filmmaking great, namely Pasolini. And if I say this is a career-defining work for Fellini, then maybe you know wht this means if you take a look at his big body of work that includes many truly successful films. It's maybe between this one here and 8 1/2, at least if we focus on what he did in the 1960s. There's works from the 50s and 70s too that could deserve the title most fammous Fellini movie as well. But yeah this one here and 8 1/2 even have some similar awards recognition. Both won Gherardi the Cosrume Design Oscar and for both he was nominated for Art Direction too and more Oscar nominations were included. The only reason why this one here perhaps did not win the Foreign Language Film Academy Award was that Italy picked another movie to represent the country at the Oscars that year, but I guess with 8 1/2 they did not make the same mistake. You could say it was a year for countries inspired by foreign cultures at the Oscars of course with the big West Side Story success, but also especially in terms of Italy with Sophie Loren winning Best Actress. Now she was not in La dolce vita. Actually, apart from Anita Ekberg, most of the female actors with a great deal of screen time were French, so no surprise that this is an Italian/French co-production. Aimée, Fourneaux, Noel... and also Alain Cuny who plays one of the bigger supporting characters. Bit the star at the center of it all in this black-and-white movie is of course Fellini's regular Marcello Mastroianni playing another Marcello. And it is also not the only film where he played next to Anouk Aimée for example. So yeah MM is in this one from start to finish and the action keeos revolving around him. He is a journalist himself, so sort of the interfact between the ruthless world of paparazzi and the posh world of stars and starlets. And he clearly enjoys the attention as we see him hook up with famous actresses more than once. His fiancée clearly did not like it, but if wonderful sequences arise from that like the scene early on when they manage to hide away with the help of a prostitute or also when we get this still really famous Trevi fountain sequence starring the late Anita Ekberg (and a baby kitten before that), then I am all for it.

I would generally say that I liked these early parts more that took us into Marcello's love life and this was when the film was even at 4 stars out of 5 I would say, but sadly it did get a bit worse afterwards being really more on the showy side eventually than delivering the substance like it does early on. Of course, it is a challenge almost impossible to master with this running time. However, the focus switches to religion considerably at some point, first with the priest then with the two children who (allegedly) saw the Virgin Mary. I mean these parts aren't horrible, probably not even weak, but still a decline in quality compared to the level before them. In-between there are always again scenes during which the film gets better again like the not too long one with the character of Paola (Valeria Ciangottini ) at the restaurant symbolizing goodness and innocence and who also reappears at the end again on the seaside, but overall they are not getting the greatness from early on back. Also the scenes with Steiner did not do too much for me and the horrible crime linked to him eventually did not have an impact on me at all. It felt very much for the sake of it sadly. For being as shocking and controversial as possible, but sometimes less is more. The way we see the paparazzi when they go fetch the wife was more memorable, but still this also felt really clumsy in terms of story-telling. It is already bad enough that the guy needs somebody to identify the wife, but when he tells her that the kids are just injured etc. like what is happening, this is not appropriate police work, also not back ober half a century ago, now 60 years almost actually, probably over 60 when you read this review. Still the film also lives through the individual scenes, actually more through these than as one piece as a whole. I won#t mention all the scenes I am talking about this way, but I called some already. Other examples would of course be the really big sea animal at the end that brings all kinds of metaphors and symbolisms to the table or if we are talking about the very end already, same is true for the very beginning when we see Marcello up there in the helicopter who takes down the statue. He says on one occasion that he is a big shot with great connections to everybody who matters, like the Vatican too, and this opening scene is pretty much the best example. He is where the action is and there is always many attractive women surrounding him, again not to the liking of his fiancée. But it comes with the job I guess and his looks. Mastroianna sure gave a nice performance here too and I sometimes feel he is not getting the recognition really as he should for his acting in some of his works, especially the Fellini films. So overall, despite the decline in quality this was still a good movie and I was a bit surprised that I liked it a lot more than years ago when i saw it for the first time, so perhaps it really is a film that gets better as you grow older and perceive it differently. Who knows. I'm curious what my verdict will be perhaps at the age of 50 if I decide to watch it again then. And if I maybe also like that party scene towards the end then that honestly now did really do nothing for me at all. We will see. But for now, it is enough maybe for at least the next 5-6 years because there is just so much interesting other stuff to (re)watch, let alone all the new quality films coming out. This one here gets a thumbs-up from me, but not an enthusiastic one. If you aren't thrilled be the first hour, then maybe skip the rest. It's only going downhill from there.
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"Because one can't have everything. You can have one thing or another."
classicsoncall20 September 2014
Warning: 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.
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The Modern Italian Film
gavin694210 November 2014
A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) living in Rome.

So, this represents the modern Italy and the loss of traditional morality, as well as a stunning critique of fame and celebrity (while ironically launching Fellini to international fame and celebrity).

Not to say this is not a great film, because it is, but unlike certain critics (e.g. Roger Ebert) it seems out of place on anyone's list of top ten films of all time. Its influence may have been strong but seems to have waned over the years, and even the critique is no longer as potent. Most likely the Italians felt the film far more profoundly than Americans did (and do), given how many could still firmly recall Mussolini and his war criminal successor Pietro Badoglio.
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sweet life of irony
lee_eisenberg3 September 2010
Federico Fellini's ironically named masterpiece - "La dolce vita" means "the sweet life" - is a kaleidoscopic look at unfulfilled gossip writer Marcello Rubini's (Marcello Mastroianni) search for meaning in the high society world. His encounters with aristocrats, movie stars, and other people sum up an existence that can never reach its true potential for Marcello. The closest that he comes to real happiness is when he meets actress Sylvia (Anita Ekberg, whose scene in the Trevi Fountain is the most famous), but even that one is not joy as much as descent into madness.

Probably the two most effective scenes are Sylvia's arrival, and then the Madonna. Both depict people crowding around to see what they perceive to be "cool" things. First a movie star, then a presumed miracle that turns out to be a bust. But they both catch people's attention, serving as an example of the empty world that Marcello inhabits. To crown everything, the end has the same occurrence as the beginning; Marcello's isolation is accentuated by his inability to hear people, and acceptance thereof.

All in all, definitely a great movie. I recommend it. Also starring Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noël, Alain Cuny, Nadia Gray, Lex Barker, Annibale Ninchi, Walter Santesso, Jacques Sernas, Nico and Valeria Ciangottini.
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La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life)
jboothmillard30 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
From Oscar nominated director Federico Fellini (La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, Juliet of the Spirits, Amarcord), this film featured in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die has one of the most iconic images in cinema history, with the female star, so I was most keen to watch it. Basically this follows the life of Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni), in the space of a week, a regular journalist taking photographs for newspapers and magazines by day, and indulging in many passions and delights during parties and sexual experiences. Through the week he flirts with visiting American movie star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), has a few meetings with wealthy beauty and bored socialite Maddalena (Anouk Aimée), including an encounter in a prostitute's bedroom, has the shock of "serious" writer Steiner (Alain Cuny) killing his own children and himself, and he constantly pays little attention to his girlfriend and fiancée Emma (Yvonne Furneaux), who at one point overdoses. The story is told in seven episodes for the seven days of the week, and by the end Marcello has gone almost into his own world of self-loathing and self-disgust with no way of seeing how to get out of it and back home. Also starring Magali Noël as Fanny, Nadia Gray as Nadia, Lex Barker as Robert, Annibale Ninchi as Marcello's Father, Walter Santesso as Paparazzo, Jacques Sernas as Matinée Idol and Valeria Ciangottini as Paola. Mastroianni gives a good leading performance, and many of the supporting cast get their moments, especially of course Ekberg, who creates the iconic image where she, wearing black with long blonde hair, walks through the water and next to the falling water of the Trevi Fountain. To be honest, the fountain sequence was the most significant and eye-catching sequence for me, there were some other interesting moments, but I did not completely understand everything going on, however it is a classic drama to be seen. It won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, and it was nominated for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen, and it was nominated the BAFTA for Best Film from any Source. Very good!
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Oh, Marcello, I'm So Bored.
rmax3048237 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Well, this episodic, ambitious exploration of life in Rome in 1960 hits one bull's eye after another and emerges as one of the best films of the 1960s, maybe one of the greatest ever. Imagine a film about boredom that is not in itself boring.

I fear, though, that some youths may be turned off by it because so many things stand for something else that I'm tempted to bundle them up into "themes." I can see it now. A couple of kids in phat pants wearing nostril rings, their ankles garnished with tattoos of barbed wire, hitting the beer or the hi-energy drinks on the couch, munching Doritos, scowling and cursing at the film from the very start. "Hey -- this thing's in BLACK AND WHITE. They're talking Portugese. And it's got SUBTITLES!" Maybe that's unkind though. Maybe they can shake off the MTV chains and manage to sit through this and discover something they didn't know about someone's life other than their own.

Marcello Maistroianni is the central figure, a journalist with an unfocused vision, who wanders from one episode to the next, wondering what to do with his life. He meets a LOT of interesting characters along the way, each representing something else. His desperate girl friend, Emma, offers him the life of a petty bourgeois. She'll feed him, give him a home and children, and she'll grow plump with age and develop the shadow of a mustache. Marcello isn't sure what he wants but he knows he doesn't want THAT.

His "intellectual" friend, Steiner, represents someone or something that Marcello would love to become. Steiner is sensitive, artistic, talented, a writer, poet, and a musician who plays Bach in a cathedral that is acoustically active because there are no people in it. Nobody is in it -- get it, kids? Anita Ekberg is the hypermastic Sylvia, an American movie star, her head as empty as her bodice is full. She doesn't understand a word of Italian as Marcello woos her, and he can't speak English. As they're about to kiss, knee deep in water, the Fontana Trevi shuts off, night dissolves into dawn, and a pizza delivery kid has stopped his bicycle to stare at them as they swish self-consciously out of the fountain.

Religion? The cathedral may be forgotten but religion in its rawest form is not. A young brother and sister team claim to have seen the Virgin Mary in a desolate vacant lot. The paparazzi have set up bright lights, generators, and cameras all over the place. Hundreds of the lame and halt appear at the site of the miracle, hoping for a cure. The paparazzi pay the kids' mother, father, and grandfather to pose on the balcony of a soulless apartment house, pointing supposedly at the spot where the vision occurred. The fact that the photographers have them pointing in different directions makes no difference. The paparazzi suddenly run off and leave the three alone on the balcony, and Fellini lingers for a few seconds on the absurd and tragic image of three posturing human statues there, mother pointing one way, father another, grandfather praying on his knees -- all of them fakes. It rains, the hot Klieg lights begin to explode, and a riot follows in which the supplicants tear apart the tree at which the Virgin appeared, stuffing leaves into their jackets, wrestling one another for souveniers or charms.

The final scene in which Marcello watches a monstrously ugly fish hauled out of the sea and then tries to communicate with a twelve-year-old blond angel, and fails, is heartbreaking.

The film isn't about boredom. It's not even about emptiness. It's about what's missing, the thing that creates the emptiness and leads to boredom. Fellini isn't up front about it, and neither was Orson Welles when he dealt with a similar issue in "Citizen Kane." Fellini was more explicit in some of his other films -- "I Vitelloni" and "Amarcord" ("I Remember"). Traditional values, and the youthful innocence that made them possible, are being lost. Values have been cheapened. Not that those values were perfect or indeed anything but illusory, but how can we get along without our myths? We follow kids around who see the Virgin Mary and who like some politicians because they resemble "rock stars." We're losing our ability to appreciate Bach and the patience to sit through a black-and-white movie made in another country. Our assessments of other peoples has been degraded into "good" and "evil" without modulation. Our Western culture seems to have passed from naive to decadent without ever having gone through florescence. If this is what Fellini was getting at, it's no wonder the film is as sad as it is.
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A man searches for meanings and finds...nothing
blanche-224 November 2007
When you say "la dolce vita" to someone my age, it conjures up Fellini's vision of life in all its empty glory. It's a sweet life on the surface only. Marcello Mastrioanni shines here as a reporter seeking a story as he seeks himself through vapid women and parties, all the while ignoring the only thing that has a true meaning - his mistreated and often abandoned girlfriend, who truly loves him.

In his self-absorption, Marcello (same name as the star's) lives in an idealistic universe where he imposes qualities on other people that they don't possess. Ultimately he finds out that these people lack what he believes they have - or rather, what he gave them. In his disillusionment, particularly over the character of Steiner, whom he admires so much, he basically gives up and accepts "la dolce vita" for what it is - a big nothing that dulls the brain.

Looking at it outside of Marcello's mind, it's all clear to the viewer that the Anita Ekberg character has none of the exalted values he instills in her; she has, in fact, no mystery at all. She's a party girl. He has no real connection with his father, though he believes he does. With Steiner, reality hits Marcello in the face.

Fellini gives us so many vivid images - Ekberg at the fountain, the scene at the castle, the statue of Christ as it is flown over Rome - absolutely stunning. And then, a young woman at the beach (the same woman from the cafe scene) who waves to Marcello and seems in her own way to have all the answers to life. But he wouldn't understand those answers.

Ultra-modern even seen today with its existential point of view, La Dolce Vita, despite my awkward attempts to describe it, is a film that demands repeat viewings. The world is more shallow than ever. It's as Fellini described and even predicted. After a night of partying, like Marcello, we still all have to face ourselves in the morning. Hopefully, unlike Marcello, we won't give up trying to figure out what's real and what is important.
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Consistently entertaining and entrancing Fellini-lore
Quinoa198421 November 2000
Federico Fellini's first smash La Dolce Vita is probably his purest entertainment spectacle (most of his other films are beautifully crafted but still lamenated narsasistic film approaches, 8 1/2 for instance) and I couldn't be more pleased as a Fellini admirer. In this foreign film, Marcello Rubini (who played by Mastroianni gets as much credit from me as to fellini) plays a journalist who gets slipped into a world where he sees bad things happen, but are just today's taboo. A good time to say the least, this is one of the master's best works that I hold as sacred as uh, 8 1/2. A+
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A Felliniesque Film
sunwarrior1325 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In one of the most widely seen and acclaimed European movies of the 1960's, Federico Fellini featured Marcello Mastrioanni as gossip columnist Marcello Rubini in this movie entitled,La Dolce Vita.The film is a story of a passive journalist's week in Rome, and his search for both happiness and love that will never come. Generally cited as the film that marks the transition between Fellini's earlier neo-realist films and his later art films, it is widely considered as one of the great achievements in world cinema.

Having left his dreary provincial existence behind, Marcello wanders through an ultra-modern, ultra-sophisticated, ultra-decadent Rome. He yearns to write seriously, but his inconsequential newspaper pieces bring in more money, and he's too lazy to argue with this setup. He attaches himself to a bored socialite, whose search for thrills brings them in contact with a bisexual prostitute. The next day, Marcello juggles a personal tragedy with the demands of his profession. Throughout his adventures, Marcello's dreams, fantasies, and nightmares are mirrored by the hedonism around him. With a shrug, he concludes that, while his lifestyle is shallow and ultimately pointless, there's nothing he can do to change it and so he might as well enjoy it.

At three hours, La Dolce Vita, a piece of cynical, engrossing social commentary, stands as Federico Fellini's timeless masterpiece. A rich, detailed panorama of Rome's modern decadence and sophisticated immorality, the film is episodic in structure but held tightly in focus by the wandering protagonist through whom we witness the sordid action. Perhaps many spectators will squirm at the three-hour length of the film or of some of its sequences, yet others will never notice they've sat that long.As for the viewer,it operates on so many levels that it's tough to know where Fellini is coming from or where he's headed, regardless of how many times you've watched it.Fellini's hallucinatory, circus-like depictions of modern life first earned the adjective "Felliniesque" in this celebrated movie, which also traded on the idea of Rome as a hotbed of sex and decadence. In the end,after what we've seen of decadence during the past three decades or so, the movie now seems tame, but people wasting time in nightclubs, dancing in the fountains of Rome, and just generally hanging out seemed a bit of a shock in 1960.
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Women: Handkerchiefs, Shirts and Bras
tedg27 November 2006
When it comes to art, the best one can do is receive it with grace, measure it against one's soul and if one is so inclined, speak from the heart about it. That's the only thing that matters, all else falling away. Comments about the execution are irrelevant, really. If someone talks about that, it isn't from their heart and doesn't really matter. This is excellently executed, but with art the only demand is that it cross a threshold of competence, making it close enough for us to reach. All else is decoration. Read elsewhere for comments on the decorative qualities of this.

I'll start from the end. I recommend you see this because it is a necessary launching ramp for "8 1/2." I believe that film is essential viewing for any citizen of the world, and to get it, you have to sit through this. Its roughly the same shape: Fellini himself, an empty and artless man posing as an artist who can only place himself in a definition of emptiness defined by the seven types of women.

In this world — a convincing one — women define the world by their being, and all spaces — physical spaces I mean — are carried by them into existence. Men merely stand between surrounding walls and the woman who made them whether she is present or not. When strained through the cloth of cinema, we have something like this film. (I wish some Japanese filmmaker would do for this what "H Story" did to "Hiroshima Mon Amore" but in Barcelona.)

So it is a competent film, even decorative. It is art, and for reasons beyond itself, you should see it.

But it doesn't measure well against my soul. Nor famously did it against Fellini's, which is why, after a celebrated crisis, he developed a different style for his next films. I suppose it is true that you could see this as about the bankruptcy of Roman aristocrats, or about more general bankruptcy of men. But I see it as about Fellini's own self inflicted, selfaware malaise.

But why is this one recommended to be rejected and the later one valued? Because of the cinematic form, dear friends. That's all that matters. Usually this form is considered realistic or neorealistic and the later films fantastic surreal. I think we can do better than that. The "neorealistic" films are composed by a self that stands outside. It sees and reports. It sees and judges; this is a film that assumes judgment. Its an essay, "explained" because both the filmmaker and the viewer stand outside it. Even the edges of the frame are perfectly placed, so as to remind us of the window we peer through.

"8 1/2" and his other project I admire ("Block-notes di un regista") have the filmmaker distinctly in the thing. The edges shift. We are invited in. Some things aren't clear, what we encounter hasn't been filtered to make sense for us. Its a party, but not one the camera understands, so we are in the midst of the battle instead of observing the party.

So if it is art you come for, you won't find it here unless you think competent decoration and impressive effect matter. What matters is whether the artist's blood mingles with ours, and Fellini didn't bleed until after this, probably because of this. Later, he did add that girl at the beach so his types of women total 8. I suppose you need to see this, then "8 1/2," then Greenaway's "8 1/2 Women."

It may not be the best way to capture a film, by bracketing it somehow. But it works for me in this case. This is just a bracket.


One could say things about many of the characters and performances, and I cannot resist mentioning one: Nico. In the next to last segment, she plays a top model engaged to a royal nitwit. We gather at his castle and go ghost-hunting where we are given the woman-outside- the-walls story. This was when she really was a top model and before she became Andy Warhol's primary avatar in the world. She originated the "Gothic" look copied by millions of girl misfits. She reinvented a form of sultry singing (then newly in rock) that turns the notion of this movie inside out: deliberately soulless and therefore attractive.

This film also brackets her amazing glow as the Chelsea Girl. THE Chelsea Girl.

You should know about her. She had a real life. We all live in the ashes, unbeknownst.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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A classically dated look at opulence and loose morals.
CinemaSerf27 January 2020
This film positively exudes class; the imagery is stunningly produced and once again Nino Rota creates a score that complements the movie perfectly. It is, however, a rather plodding meandrous tale of decadence and emptiness that has not really stood the test of time so well. Marcello Mastroianni has something about him in this film, but I couldn't help thinking that he was a bit of a poor-man's Alain Delon as he tries to fit in with the glamour set of 1960's Rome. Anita Ekberg, Yvonne Furneaux and Anouk Aimée are the hot chicks and we are taken on a trip through their rather pointless, vacuous existence. The dialogue doesn't really help the characterisations at all and as such I felt a complete indifference to any of them. Not that there was ever going to be any sort of a satisfactory ending; so the fact that there isn't doesn't really disappoint. It's just a very long days journey into nothing particularly wonderful. I wonder if it would have anything like the traction it has acquired had the moralists not taken the stance they did at the time; elevating this film to a status that I struggle to reconcile with what I have just watched.
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Empty Vessels ...
writers_reign13 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie several years ago and it failed to make much of an impression and in the intervening years I've been aware that it enjoys something of a reputation if only as a 'cult' movie. Now I've had the chance to watch it again and I still find it unimpressive, making points out of clichés and doing so in a heavy-handed way. It is basically a series of episodes designed to reveal to the protagonist, a melding of flaneur and journalist that life is empty and ultimately meaningless. In the lead Marcello Mastroianni does as well as can be expected and probably as well as anyone cast as a cipher could do. Alain Cuny, so memorable in the last seen of the Prevert-Carne Les Visiteurs du soir, is effective as the role model/idol with feet of clay but ultimately this is as empty as the life it depicts.
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Anita Ekberg steals the show
grantss13 June 2016
Rome, 1959/60. Marcello Rubini (played by Marcello Mastroianni) is a writer and journalist, the worst kind of journalist - a tabloid journalist, or paparazzo. His job involves him trying to catch celebrities in compromising or embarrassing situations. He tends to get quite close to his subject, especially when they're beautiful women. Two such subjects are a local heiress, Maddalena (Anouk Aimee), and a Swedish superstar-actress, Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), both of whom he has affairs with. This is despite being engaged to Emma (Yvonne Furneaux), a rather clingy, insecure, nagging, melodramatic woman (this explains his affairs!). Despite his extravagant, pleasure-filled lifestyle, he is wondering if maybe a simpler life wouldn't be better.

Explores some interesting themes, but is a bit hit-and-miss. The examination of the intrusiveness and fabrication of the news by the media was good, highlighted by a few powerful scenes (the Virgin Mary kids and the bus stop scenes especially). There is also the idea of longing for a simpler life. However, these themes aren't explored very thoroughly, and there is no profound conclusion to them.

The main problem is that the powerful scenes get diluted by some pretty dull, pointless ones. Too much time is spent on random stuff that has no bearing on the plot. Not only does this make the movie unnecessarily longer, but minimises the impact of the more profound sub-plots. Too many powerful scenes followed up by meaningless scenes.

On the plus side, there's Anita Ekberg. She is stunningly beautiful and provides the movie's iconic moment - the fountain scene. Her role did not require much acting talent but she makes up for this by having great...presence. Unfortunately, she only appears for about 1/6th of the movie. Once she is out of the picture, the energy level of the movie reduces significantly.

Interesting to note that the supporting cast includes Nico, later of The Velvet Underground and Nico fame. She appears as herself, sort of.
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An ode to life.
Boba_Fett113827 October 2011
The way I see this movie is as an ode to everyday's life. It handles eternal themes such as love, death, family and everything in between, without exaggerating or going over-the-top with anything. A random slice of life if you will, told Fellini style.

Of course I love Federico Fellini's movies as much as everybody else does, which however also makes me sort of surprised that this movie is by many regarded to be one of his best. I really don't see this movie as such and wasn't as taking and intrigued by it as was the case with some of his other work, from around the same time period.

But having said that, it still remains obviously a very enchanting movie, due to the way it all got shot and told. It's a real beautiful looking movie, that is also really well directed, which you'll especially notice when you really start to pay attention to the way it all got told and handled by Federico Fellini. It all got shot with a velvet glove and eye for detail.

This of course isn't the first or only movie about random life but what still makes this movie sort of unique is the fact that the movie doesn't really try to provide any answers or solutions, which in itself actually works out as an answer and conclusion itself. It shows that you can't always have things in your own hands and you shouldn't be looking too hard for all of the answers in life, or chances are you'll miss out on some of its beauty. Just live life could be the shortest way to describe the 'meaning' and message of this movie.

It also shows that not everything is what it seems to be in life. People we put on a pedestal are really not as great or happy as they look and things like love and hate can often be closer to each other than we would like to think. This not only shows in Marcello's love life but also in the relationship he has with his father for instance.

So it's a movie that is heavy and serious on its themes perhaps but at the same time it also remains an happy and charming movie to look at. This is also one of the powers of a Fellini movie I think. No matter how heavy or serious some stuff might get, you'll never finish watching the movie feeling all down or depressed. It's because of the pleasant pacing and the sort of adventurous feeling of the movie but also of course due to it's wonderful looking visuals.

I also was really fond of the acting. Kind of hard to believe that Marcello Mastroianni was not considered to be not suitable by the studios for this movie but luckily Fellini pushed his will through. I really can't imaging anybody else playing the main character, since Marcello Mastroianni is so perfect for it. He probably is my most favorite Italian actor of all time as well. Who also really makes an impact in this movie is Anita Ekberg but that has more to do with her looks and appearance in the movie than anything else (she is a former Miss Sweden, this should tell you enough really).

Simply a wonderful and delightful movie but I just wouldn't call it Fellini's best to be honest. But this however should tell you more about the quality of some of his other movies than about the quality of this one.

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Beautiful Looking But Profoundly Hollow
evanston_dad3 July 2006
A triumph of style over substance.

One can't overcome the feeling while watching "La Dolce Vita" that Federico Fellini thinks he's being terribly intellectual and profound, but there's precious little going on in this film's head. It's telling that on a second viewing, when I thought I would discover nuance and detail I missed the first time around, I was instead bored and found myself counting down the minutes until the film was over.

Fellini seems to be criticizing a decadent, empty modern society in which ideas have died. Fair enough. But if he's going to make that point -- and drag it out for over three hours, no less -- perhaps he would have been wise to choose someone other than the rich, privileged class to make the point with. The grand conclusion he comes to in his film is that money, wealth and status aren't enough to give a life meaning or purpose, and don't offer anything to offset the void of boredom that they create. This isn't news. Has there ever been a time in history when the privileged classes haven't been bored? I thought the strongest sequence in the film was that depicting the media frenzy that erupts when two children see the Madonna in an empty field. It reminded me of a news story that occurred just a few months ago here in Chicago when a similar frenzy erupted over a water stain in the shape of the Virgin Mary that formed on the wall of an Interstate overpass. Fellini beautifully caught the utter absurdity of people trying to convince themselves that what they want to believe is true, and the sadness that this need is necessary in the first place.

In the film's final sequence, Marcello Mastroianni's character tells the people he's partying with that they're the most boring people alive. I second that. Too bad that a movie about boring, vacuous people makes for a boring, vacuous movie.

Grade: C+
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Fellini ... Sweet
ferguson-65 December 2004
Greetings again from the darkness. It has been 26 years since I last saw this film. Surprisingly there were a few scenes of which I had absolutely no recollection. What I do understand now, that I did not then, was that Fellini has influenced too many filmmakers to name and been outright copied in more than a few films since. His knack for capturing a face and/or a mood is without equal. Of course his list of influential films is quite long - "La Strada", "Satrycon", etc. Each has something new to offer, but is unmistakenly Fellini. What a pure joy to watch the movement and placement of the camera and the lighting. You cannot help but see what he wants you to see. I could feel the wetness of the fountain as Mastroianni climbs in with Ekberg. Alcohol, sex and the desire for something new is behind the miserable lives of those in the movie. OK, the story lacks a bit. In fact, it plays like a series of vignettes - each with a little moral, or at the very least providing us something to avoid. Apparently the classic is making the rounds with limited releases. As a film lover, I would not miss the opportunity to experience the film in a theatre, as the master intended.
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So good. We want it on DVD, please. Do films get better? No. There are some equals, but no superiors.
zetes29 January 2001
I first saw this film this past summer, around July. My previous experience with Federico Fellini had left me a little jaded. I had long ago, probably before I even knew of Fellini, rented his Satyricon, since I am a classics enthusiast and had read some Petronius. I can't say that I hated Satryicon (and to be completely truthful, I was not as well informed about the seventh art as I was when I saw La Dolce Vita for the first time, so I should probably go back to it one of these days), but I did not like it. It seemed way too flamboyant, and I felt it attempted to show depth when really it had none. I did, however, research the director a bit in print after I saw it. I knew that 8½ came highly recommended, so I rented it. An hour and twenty minutes in, I turned it off. I found it pretentious and silly. My third Fellini was Juliette of the Spirits. It was about a year or maybe less after I saw Satyricon, and I think I can honestly say from this vantage point that I disliked it a lot. I remember it very clearly. It reveled in spectacle and very obvious symbolism. I had to watch it for a class, and it gave me the proof that I had longed for so much that my professor was a complete hack, having no right to teach a college level course. But, several months later, on the suggestions from so many avid Fellini fans, I attempted yet another of his films. Again, my choice on the rental shelf was poor: Roma. A lot of respectable people do like this, but I for one felt that it was the work of a director who was clearly full of himself. I think that in retrospect, I fell even more strongly this way. Having seen so many of his other films now, any one of them, any one that actually takes place in Rome, is a much better love poem to Rome than was Roma. Again, I saw La Dolce Vita around July of this past summer. It is nearly three hours long, so unfortunately I had to split it into two sessions. But I did enjoy it, maybe not immensely, but I could see, for the most part, its point, and its construction I found ingenious. It did not affect me all that greatly, though, at first, possibly because I saw some of that infamous Italian spectacle in it (especially the ending, which I did not understand at first and just found a bit pretentious; now, i see it as one of the best endings I've ever seen. I even had a dream about being on that beach and seeing that fish just this weekend). Instead, I found that this is the sort of masterpiece that takes a long time to ponder and understand. A month after I saw it, I realized that a lot of it had secretly stuck in my brain. It filled my dreams. When I was asleep, I partied with Marcello. When I daydreamt, I was filled with sorrow and pity for him. In the past three months or so, I have seen most of Fellini's most famous films: La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and even 8½ again, which I loved the second time through. I have also seen his first film (though co-directed), Variety Lights. I have liked all of those (see my comments on 8½ to read my take on Fellini's career, his downfall after 8½ especially).

Now I have come back to La Dolce Vita, a film that has been stewing in my head for several months now. Armed with information to help me solve its puzzles, I found it utterly brilliant the second time through. In fact, I think it is Fellini's best film. And yes, I do know what the fish symbolizes.
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pure cinema
christopher-underwood11 February 2018
Generally, I have become more and more certain that 90 minutes is the most reasonable length for any film. So, here we are contemplating watching the famous Fellini epic and so entranced have I been with recent Blu ray viewings of Il Bidoni and La Strada, I take my eye off the ball and forget this runs almost three hours. Of course, it turns out not to matter a joy for it is a joy to watch from start to finish. The camera work and direction are perfect and every scene looks wonderful. Some of the dialogue seems a little arch today, did people really talk like that? Perhaps yes, clearly there were a lot of intellectuals or at least pseudo intellectuals about. Everything unfolds seemingly without effort and in a seeming natural way. We swing from church to whores and literature to night club with the odd something to eat and rather a lot to drink thrown in. Strange times in Italy are being alluded to here and to what extent it was the freedom afforded by the end of the war and a certain flow of money or whatever it is certain that the scandal over the discovery of the body of young Wilma Montesi on the beach and talk of sex and drugs in high places fuelled this little fire. Whether Fellini's invention of the word, paparazzi originated from the Italian word for sparrow or mosquito, the intention is clear and remarkable but then almost everything in this film is. In conclusion I must mention Anita Ekberg and confirm that my screen really did sparkle and shine throughout the period she was there and such was her presence, thanks to lighting, framing and her own seeming 'love of life, that her afterglow prevented the film seeming in any way to lapse into ordinariness once she was gone. Fabulous film and true example of pure cinema. Indeed, I understand there was not even a script.
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Fellini in pure form
Vincentiu4 April 2014
it is one of films who represents not exactly a show but an experience. because you have chance to discover the world of Fellini in profound sense. a story about life, its sense, relationships and a memorable scene. all as steps to a perception manner of art as self definition. it is a great movie for science to present basic, common , ordinaries things in the best light. for the courage to not be a lesson or a demonstration. maybe, only a question. a statue, a night, a meeting. and one of Mastroianni splendid roles. a new world and a scene of special eroticism. "La dolce vita" remains a confession. and this fact makes it image of pure Fellini spirit. because this film, about nothing for a a part from its present viewers, remains a beautiful proof about the force of cinema to define reality.
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Seductive but exhausting New Wave epic
Red-Barracuda23 July 2009
This movie is about a Roman journalist at the crossroads of his life but unable to move forward in any meaningful direction. He is a man trapped in his life of superficiality.

Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita is a very aesthetically beautiful film. The widescreen compositions are often outstanding. The crisp black and white photography is lit to perfection and a joy to behold. One of the factors that makes Italian cinema in general so appealing for me is the gorgeous natural light of that country, allied with the stylish decor and architecture; and in this film these elements are well in abundance. If nothing else, La Dolce Vita is a treat to the eyes. Style over substance is a term that could certainly also be applied to the denizens of LDV's Rome. We are introduced to an array of beautiful but shallow character's; from Marcello Mastroianni's gossip journalist, via Anita Ekberg's international film star or Nico's fashion model, everyone is beautiful on the surface but somewhat dead underneath. And perhaps this is a problem with the film in general; a three hour expose of shallow people is an exhausting experience.

The film is not plot-driven. It's episodic, divided into seven days in the life of a Roman gossip columnist. It's not always obvious what the point of certain events actually is. I found myself spending quite a lot of energy actually trying to actively understand the meaning of Marcello's experiences, and not always successfully I concede. But suffice to say that a very general reading of the film's message would be that it is about the superficiality of celebrity and the emptiness of much of modern urban life. And while a lot of it is still very relevant today – in particular the public's obsession with celebrity – it's not always clear what Fellini is trying to say. It's quite an obtuse film, with a fair amount of symbolic imagery and loaded dialogue. It's certainly serious cinema. Although I often found myself enjoying it most when it was less intellectual and more sensual, such as the wonderful iconic scene where Anita Ekberg takes a dip in the Fontana di Trevi. This justifiably famous sequence is the most purely cinematic moment in La Dolce Vita and, in my opinion, the film could have benefited from more scenes of such striking power punctuated through its three hour running time.

Overall, although I do admire this film, I find it too tiring and drawn out to love. It's very well acted and photographed, it's just a little unengaging and occasionally tedious. That said, it's one to seek out if you are at all interested in 60's New Wave cinema.
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Cinema's new intoxicating taste, served by a true artistic pioneer ...
ElMaruecan8225 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"La Dolce Vita" is the turning point of Fellini's career and a new breath for Cinema's artistic inspiration. The tone is more eccentric, energetic, stylish, flamboyant, and more deliberately flawed because Fellini understood the necessity to stop being a film-maker and establish himself as a true author. No wonder the film met an international success, winning the Golden Palm and being such an event by itself. When American cinema was declining, Italy was fixing the new rules.

What lacks in the film is less a structure than a plot but its absence is partly due to the meaninglessness nourishing the lives of its protagonists. The main character Marcello, played by the namesake Mastroianni, is a journalist who follows movie stars and covers tabloid news and therefore is the "privileged" witness of a world falling into decadence, of hookers and strip-teasers, of starlets full of illusions and disillusioned intellectuals, of libidinous newcomers and alcoholic has-beens, a gay and sinister world incarnating a society that lost all its boundaries for best and worst, and it's often from the morally worst that comes the aesthetically best.

But the episodes are not disjointed at all, the film obeys to a simple yet insightful pattern: a nighttime event followed by its questioning at dawn. One night, Marcello makes love with the beautiful and wealthy Maddalena (Anouk Aimée) in a prostitute's house, at dawn, he finds his fiancé Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) unconscious after an overdose and declares his love while she's still semiconscious in the hospital. He goes to a Cha-Cha-Cha Club with his father and introduces her to Fanny (Magali Noel), a beautiful French dancer, but after the party, the father is victim of a stroke. Another episode involves a false miracle that ends in tragedy when the crowd running after the kids who saw the Virgin Mary, tramples a crippled child. All the episodes are made of ups and downs, and as the film progresses, we've got less time to enjoy the frenzy of the moments than to feel the bittersweet taste of the aftermath, yet the lessons of the past are never respected in the present.

Indeed, we all recover from hangovers and although we swear never to touch alcohol, we end up drinking again, a man cheating on his woman would feel guilty but sooner or later, the impulses would come back. Marcello can't help it either. The greatest demonstration is how he immediately falls in love with the beautiful Sylvia. Anita Ekberg is marvelously sensual as the beautiful actress, her voluptuous body, her milky skin, her child-like voice and constant excitement brightening in her eyes, she literally embodies "La Dolce Vita", a sort of never- ending, dream-like fantasy, a Divine Comedy throning above our sad realities. Marcello is hypnotized by the unreachable beauty of this world, and the mythic "Marcello, come here" sensuously delivered by Sylvia in the Trevi Fontaine sounds like an invitation to join this Dolce Vita. Yet even this magical night ends up with an anticlimactic slap in Sylvia's face by her jealous lover.

There's something essential in Mastroianni's performance, he rarely looks happy, his face is passive and in his eyes, there's a constant boredom inhabiting his heart. And the word 'passive' takes all its meaning, in all the many episodes that constitute the films, made at the epic length of three hours, he's involved but he's not the central character. He just lives the situations while the essential is elsewhere, the Jesus statue, Sylvia's arrival, Steiner's suicide, the party with his father. He's like a man caught in a crazy adventure but incapable to take something out of it, incapable to find a true meaning to his life. And maybe the only enjoyment Marcello can afford is the freedom to abandon himself to lust and pleasure, like intoxicated by his own weakness.

And I guess, that's why the material of the film was quite subversive, it was asking disturbing questions. Take the photographers who're always here no matter what happens, they're like flies buzzing around a dead corpse, the film is notorious to have inspired the word 'paparazzi' from the character Paparazzo's, Marcello's friend. They all look totally amoral and pathetic, with no absolute sense of decency yet how many of us aren't fascinated by this world of gossip and eager to know about our favorite stars? "La Dolce Vita" questions our capability to abandon the chances of knowing the true love, to be a good person, a normal person, just to live life at its fullest and so many Fellinian nights, pinnacling with the climactic orgy, when Marcello rides on a totally drunk woman, slapping her in the bottom. Shocking? Today's world has become worst. Think of girls posing in Facebook sites, making like stars of themselves, think of spring breaks, lust is everywhere, and what most of us won't admit is that they conveniently despise the amorality when it's unreachable but maybe if they had a chance to touch it even once, they would change their minds. Or would they really want to give them a try?

Fellini creates a panorama of all the new temptations that made the Roman nights, the degeneration of morality within a conservative society. "La Dolce Vita" is an ironic title since it's more about the death of morality, when a Christ statue is waved at by bikini-clad women or a dead fish is invaded by curious eyes, you know there's something rotten in this society. It's funny that Fellini, who was supported by the conservative wing and even the Vatican for his neo-realistic films, praised for their themes: the quest for redemption, people's inner goodness, was attacked for "La Dolce Vita" because it was depicting sin.

Actually, the film embraces the meaningfulness of the world it depicts, and if the main character doesn't seem ready to redemption, that's simply because he sold his soul to the devil.
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