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La Dolce Vita (12A)
12th March 2020 3:45 pm
Celebrating the centenary of perhaps the most famous of Italian directors, Federico Fellini’s exquisite tale of celebrity casts an adoring yet critical eye towards ’60s Rome.
The film marked the beginning of Fellini’s long association with actor Marcello Mastroianni, who plays a philandering journalist protagonist on a decadent seven-day quest for happiness that’s always just out of reach. Stylish and fantastical, the scenes from the film like the splash of Anita Ekberg as American superstar Sylvia into the Trevi Fountain have become iconic and the ravenous pack of celebrity photographers coined the term ‘paparazzi’.
Director: Federico Fellini
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee
Italy, 1960, 2 hours 54 minutes
To see the full Borderlines 2020 schedule, please click HERE.
Film festivals sometimes work for you, sometimes not, but Borderlines Film Festival 2020
some of which I caught at Malvern Theatres ( although the planners gave us opportunities all
across the Welsh borders) was truly terrific, showing films you had maybe longed to see for years,
such as Elia Kazan's "A Streetcar Named Desire" with terrific central performances from Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando,as well
as highly-regarded modern films such as the horrifying "The Lighthouse" which gave Robert Pattinson a chance to a to finally
leave behind the pretty-boy vampire he created in the "Twilight" franchise, in favour of a 19th century mentally-deranged
killer, locked in a sea-battered lighthouse on a lonely New England, coast .
With W iIllem Dafoe coming in from the shadows to give another fine performance as the crazed lighthouse keeper himself, this is wonderful art cinema destined to become part of many more film festivals in the years to come.
But the organisers of this well produced festival, realised that Federico Fellini's birthday fell this year (he was born in Rimini in 1920) and so
they included Fellini's 1960 masterpiece"La Dolce Vita" which I could happily watch at least once week for the foreseeable future.
Fellini's films do not make themselves readily available. In the darkness of the cinema you seem to enter a dream world where
anything is possible. Beaches occur all over the place in a Fellini movie and afficionados will recall ithe cold, windswept beaches
in "La Strada", where where the bullying circus strongman, collapses in tears on the sand and loses the retarded girl, to the beach in the last shots "La Dolce Vita",
where exhausted orgiastic revellers surge out in the dawn from the pine trees onto a beach where a large fish stares upwards with its dead eyes and Marcello Mastroianni sees his degradation in the eyes of an innocent young girl.
But Fellini's objective was always Rome. Being in Rome was like being in an apartment he once said, its twisting streets are like corridors, and
Romeis where the main part of "la Dolce Vita" is set , it is Fellini's vision of a Rome in the classical mode, The Eternal City where Mussolini in huge stadiums fringed with
nude masculine statuary had envisaged the inspirational sculpture which once decorated Rome in the age of the Caesars.
However, this is post-war Rome and the now ruined classical Roman theatres have been turned into places where you can dance with a rent-boy (or girl) or drink yourself into oblivion believing that you are living Rome's past glories. Fading Hollywood stars, such as a once celebrated Tarzan, struggle among the rich and well-dressed to control their
equally famous totally exasperating, aggravating wives I( in this case Anita Ekberg who later ends up in the dawn with a kitten on her head in a Roman backstreet before splashing around in the Trevi Fountain to the complete despair of Mastroianni, a social journalist flanked by intrusive papparazzi, always looking out for a front page picture and getting it laughably wrong) while later Mastroianni indulging her whim ends up also in the Trevi, and mistakes Ekberg's childlike sensuality for an invitation to take things further and gets it all wrong.
Fellini suggests the rich live in decadent style in broken down castles while the poor rush out to Rome's grim areas of overgrown wasteland, tip awhere their thrill is to see two impudent kids swearing they have seen the Virgin near a treet. The dying and mortally sick are laid out for a miracle. But it rains heavily, the arc lights explode avisitorsnd in the chaos as the sick are trodden on, the two children run past the priests, the reporters and the thousands of visitors, giggliing with laughter since only they know there was no Virgin Mary--it was all a joke.aEkberg breathlessly climbing to the roof helicopter and another of
Was Fellini a political filmaker--did he knock religion? The answer is probably not. Although the opening shots of the film are marvekkous. We see a huge figure
of Christ being carried into Rome dangling from ahelicopter while Matroianni blows kisses to girls sunbathing on a roof below. Again Ekberg scrambles un an ancienct stairway to the roof of St. Peters, dressed in a black and white couture outfit which makes her look like priest before her clerical hat blows off when she finally gets to the top. is
For me "La Dolce Vita"is a jewel in European film making's crown. Political --make your own mind up--Fellini, when asked the question said," I don't know, I just show it how I find it..."