A small-time thief steals a car and impulsively murders a motorcycle policeman. Wanted by the authorities, he reunites with a hip American journalism student and attempts to persuade her to run away with him to Italy.
In 1914, a luxury ship leaves Italy in order to scatter the ashes of a famous opera singer. A lovable bumbling journalist chronicles the voyage and meets the singer's many eccentric friends and admirers.
Journalist and man-about-town Marcello struggles to find his place in the world, torn between the allure of Rome's elite social scene and the stifling domesticity offered by his girlfriend, all the while searching for a way to become a serious writer.Written by
Asked how he got the idea for the film, Federico Fellini replied that one year the fashions made the women in Rome look like big flowers. Several extremely exaggerated costumes here and there in the film (such as two women guests' cloaks in the sequence of the party at the castle) point back to this original inspiration. See more »
When the two children see the Madonna, the time of day is stated as 7:00. However, the very short shadows of the characters reveal that it is midday. See more »
What do you think you like most in life?
I like lots of things. But there are three things I like most. Love, love and love.
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In the original American release, distributed by American International Pictures, the titles open with the AIP logo and appear over a shot of the sky with clouds. In the current release on DVD - and as shown on TCM - the title sequence is over a black background. When originally released, censors in several countries trimmed certain scenes, including the orgy near the end of the film. See more »
Mostly because of the terrific high contrast, B&W visuals, and the evocative music, this is the only Fellini film I have seen that I have somewhat enjoyed. I recommend it, but not without reservations. It's a complex film with many textured layers of meaning. And, in typical Fellini fashion, it rambles and it meanders.
Deviating from standard three-Act structure, Fellini's story consists of roughly eight episodes, all starting at night and ending at dawn, more or less. Each has its own crisis. And the only thing that unites these episodes into a coherent whole is the story's protagonist, Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni). In his job as a journalist and overall observer of human nature, Marcello encounters people in high society who seem outwardly happy and self-fulfilled. On closer examination, however, these people are empty, hollow, alienated, emotionally adrift and vacant.
A good example is the starlet Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), a glamorous figure, but she's all image and no substance. "La dolce vita" is the first film that uses the concept of "paparazzi", which implies the importance of "image", separate from substance.
Throughout the various episodes Marcello sees these "images" of happiness, of contentment, but the images are deceptive, elusive, unreliable. In one episode, two "miracle" children "see" the Madonna. "The Madonna is over there", shouts one child. The crowd chases after her. But the other child who "sees" the Madonna runs in the opposite direction. Happiness, self-fulfillment, religious visions ... they're all a will-o'-the-wisp. And so, the film conveys a sense of pessimism and cynicism.
The film thus has deep thematic value. It caused a scandal when it was released, and was banned by the Catholic Church, apparently for appearing to be anti-religious.
Yet for all its deep meaning, "La dolce vita" can be a trial to sit through. Somewhere in the second half I began to lose interest. I don't have a problem with Fellini's deviation from standard plot structure. I do have a problem with a director who doesn't know when to quit. This film goes on for almost three hours. A good edit, to delete all the fat, would have tightened up the story and rendered it more potent. As is, it's too strung out, too stretched, too meandering.
If the viewer can persevere, there's enormous cinematic art in this film. And helped along by Nino Rota's music, the film is wonderfully evocative, at times stylishly melancholy.
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