‘La Dolce Vita’ – Federico Fellini (1960)

As I am now getting into the practice of writing about films, for my fourth review I will write about the legendary ‘La Dolce Vita’ by Federico Fellini. As a relative newcomer to the mastery of Fellini, I can only compare this to his subsequent opus ‘8 ½’ which is similar in that they both star Marcello Mastroianni and that he plays a very similar role in both. They are very different, however, in that 8 ½ is considered an art piece as it concentrates itself into an artistic experience in which the fantasies and realities of Fellini’s lead-man intertwine. La Dolce Vita on the other hand, is a visual essay that supposedly landmarks the dichotomy between Fellini’s neo-realist films and his art films (the difference between this and 8 ½ is undeniably indicative of this). La Dolce Vita appears to be an essay on the nature of society in Rome in the 1950s-60s and without a true narrative-focused structure Fellini creates a wonderful episodic masterpiece that is not only a true classic but was so outlandish at the time that it has been thought of as a scandalous and scorning portrayal of Roman society. This is most purely delineated by the well-known public animosity expressed by the Vatican upon its release.

“A series of stories following a week in the life of a philandering paparazzo journalist living in Rome.”

As far as the film itself goes, it is most well recognized for the famous scene at the Trevy Fountain which Marcello spends with Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), an American actress (pictured below). The film paints an image of society and the creation of the ‘celebrity culture’ that is more true than ever and the fact that Fellini captured this so brilliantly and so truly as early as 1960 is the feat of a true genius. The film may not provide the same shock value that it certainly would have 54 years ago but we can still learn an abundance of knowledge about the life and culture of Rome in the 1960s.

I mentioned in my second post that I had undertaken the decision to embark on a film adventure to discover the influences of Paolo Sorrentino for his modern classic “The Great Beauty” and anyone who has seen both films will dogmatically agree that “La Dolce Vita” is the single-handed true influence of the film. Both films are episodic in structure, both set in Rome, both identical protagonists in all forms but age. I would argue that this is no coincidence and they are both brilliantly document the life of Rome in their respective epochs. In fact, I would go so far as to say that, having watched La Grande Bellezza first, it is almost as if Sorrentino’s creation is a continuation of Fellini’s masterpiece. It almost seems that Jep, the protagonist in the 2013 film, is an older, more cultured and experienced version of Fellini’s philandering protagonist, Marcello. However, I will leave that for you to decide!

In conclusion, there is no denying the brilliance of ‘La Dolce Vita’ and its reputation as one of the true classics of cinema must go unscathed and be truly celebrated for years to come. I give it an 8.5/10.

Thanks for reading,