La Dolce Vita (1960)A review by Shlomoh Sherman
July 15, 2015
La Dolce Vita (1960) |
Plot: A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome.
Director: Federico Fellini
Writers: Federico Fellini (story), Ennio Flaiano (story)
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée
Director: Federico Fellini
Stars: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Claudia Cardinale
Plot: 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.
Plot Keywords: journalist - writer - celebrity - socialite - party
Taglines: The Roman Scandals - Bound to shock with its truth!
Genres: Comedy - Drama
Certificate: Not Rated
Parents Guide: Contains: Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, Frightening/Intense Scenes
Country: Italy - France
Language: Italian - English - French - German
Release Date: April 19, 1961 (USA)
Filming Locations: Bassano Romano, Viterbo, Lazio, Italy
Box Office: Gross: $19,516,000 (USA)
Company Credits: Production Co: Riama Film, Gray-Film, Pathé Consortium Cinéma
Runtime: 174 min - 177 min (premiere) - 165 min (re-release) - 180 min (premiere)
Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric)
Color: Black and White
Won: Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Piero Gherardi
Nominated: Best Director, Federico Fellini, Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen, Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rondi, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White, Piero Gherardi
I am sure that I saw La Dolce Vita when it first came out but when watching it earlier this week, it was as though I had seen it for the first time. I did not remember one frame from seeing in in 1960. I was fortunate enough to be able to download a copy of this re
La Dolce Vita is Italian for Sweet Life. However, the lives of the characters portrayed in this film are anything but sweet. Fellini shows us a post war upper class Italian society living lives that are shalow and insipid. The plot revolves around Marcello Rubini, a journalist, artfully played by handsome and dynamic Marcello Mastroianni.
Marcello is on a never-ending quest to pursue and involve himself in the lives of the rich and beautiful people. He can follow them, involve himself in their lives, make love to them, all the while being distracted by the egoism of his own superficial and meaningless inner soul. The very idea that he can make love to women rather than with them is a clue to his callousness. He is particularly nasty and emotionally abusive toward his girlfriend, Emma, play by the beautiful Yvonne Furneaux. Miss Furneaux reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor but a sweeter and more fragile Taylor.
As the film progresses, Marcello's transition from simply ignoring Emma to his brutal verbalization of her gives the audience a visceral empathy with her fragility.
La Dolce Vita is perhaps best remembered for the famous Trevi Fountain scene between Marcello and the provocative and sultry Swedish actress, Sylvia, played by Anita Ekberg, who seems to relish displaying her sensuous neck. I never thought of Ekberg as being particularly interesting or attractive even though she was supposed to be one of the sex goddesses of the era. In the film, her character comes across as self-indulgent as that of Marcello's.
In the Trevi Fountain scene, Sylvia, carrying a white kitten, wades into the fountain, beckoning Marcello to follow her. "Marcello! Come here. Hurry up," she yells to him.
In the last scene of the film, Marcello and his "friends" are down as the beach, looking at a dead giant squid that has been washed up on the shore. Someone observes that the squid's eyes are open and the crowd wonders what it must be seeing. But perhaps the squid epitomizes the beautiful, rich people in the film, and the equally vacuous Paparazzi constantly pursuing them. Their eyes are open but they see very little. They are emotionally and spiritually deceased.
As the scene draws to a close, we see a young girl several yards away, gesturing and speaking to Marcello. The noise of the surf drowns out her words, making it impossible for anyone to hear what whe is saying. Marcello holds up his hands, indictating to her that he he cannot hear her but the look on his face betrays his utter lack of interest in what she is saying. She smiles with the realization that she is speaking to a fool.
Reviewer Red-Barracuda (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) sums the film up nicely in his July, 2009 review: "This is a problem with the film in general; a three hour expose of shallow people is an exhausting experience. It's very well acted and photographed. It's just a little unengaging and occasionally tedious."
So after all this time, you may be wondering why I wanted to watch La Dolce Vita. My interest was engaged by watching a delightul recent movie on Netflix.
Elsa & Fred (2014), staring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, is a remake of an earlier Spanish version from 2005. It is the story of two elderly people, living in the same apartment building who meet and fall in love.
Elsa has lived for many years with the constant memory of the scene in 'La Dolce Vita' at the Fontana di Trevi.
She sees herself very much as Anita Ekberg in it. And now, loving Fred, she begins to see him as Marcello Mastroianni.
Unlike the Marcello character in La Dolce Vita, Fred is and has always been a good man who did everything he was asked to do. He has met Elsa after losing his wife. After meeting her, everything changes for him. Elsa is determined to show him that the time they have left to live can be sweet and that they should enjoy it together. When Fred discovers Elsa's fantasy of living out the Fountain scene, he generously offers to take her to Rome where they can become the Marcello and Sylvia in which life can be truly sweet [Dolce].
The fountain scene recreated by Fred and Elsa is beautifully done, complete with Fred caressing her neck and she sprinkling water on his head.
I had never heard of Elsa & Fred but when I saw the title listed on Netflix, and the storyline, I was intrigued. Glad I saw it, and you would be too.
Did You Know?
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcello Mastroianni ... Marcello Rubini
Anita Ekberg ... Sylvia
Anouk Aimée ... Maddalena
Yvonne Furneaux ... Emma
Magali Noël ... Fanny
Alain Cuny ... Steiner
Annibale Ninchi ... Marcello's father
Walter Santesso ... Paparazzo
Lex Barker ... Robert - Sylvia's husband
Jacques Sernas ... Il divo
Nadia Gray ... Nadia
Valeria Ciangottini ... Paola
Riccardo Garrone ... Riccardo
Ida Galli ... Debuttante of the year
Audrey McDonald ... Jane
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