IMDB #240 La Dolce Vita

The long awaited eleventh installment in the countdown is finally here! I like to call this one La Dolce Vita: Cinematic Classic or Celluloid Equivalent of a Coma? or, Why Film Studies Was My Minor, Not My Major. Let’s hop the heck to it.

The Key Players:

Your maestro and tour guide for this nearly three hour excursion is Frederico Fellini, a giant of foreign cinema, in company with your Bergmans and Antonionis, whose films won four Oscars and a Palm D’Or. This is my first Fellini experience, and not the last on the countdown (so look for the others in the fifteen years it will take me to finish this).

Marcello Mastroianni stars as a journalist (also named Marcello… who does this Italian dude think he is, Charlie Sheen?) that we follow for seven days as he reports on news items sensational and tabloid.

Anouk Aimée is a high society heiress he encounters more than once, Anita Ekberg shows up for a little bit (and all over the movie posters) as an American actess that Marcello follows around for a day. The only other major parts in a large cast are filled by Alain Cuny as an intellectual friend, and Annibale Ninchi as Marcello’s father.

The Story:

Basically, the film follows Marcello around for a few days as he deals with a crazy girlfriend, has a tryst with the above-mentioned heiress, lusts after the furtherly-above-mentioned American movie star, chats with his friend at a church, hangs out with his father for a night, goes to a crazy party and then ends up on a beach.

That’s really it, and it is in no way as exciting as it sounds.

The Artisticness:

Wow. Beyond having a job and writing some other things, you want to know why it took me so long to write this up? The first three times I tried to watch this film, I fell asleep. I finally got down to it today, and made it through a long stretch and felt my eyes drooping again, so I paused it to see how long it could be. Surely, there couldn’t be much left… I was halfway through. Yeah.

This film was beautifully shot, so far as I can tell, and who knows? The camerawork may have been revolutionary, but I couldn’t stay awake. As I tried to make the journey with Marcello, who played it alternatively smug, mute, or misogynistic, I found it hard to really care to keep up.

So I’m sure I’m a philistine that missed the clever significance of the statue of Christ being flown to the Vatican dangling from helicopter in the film’s opening scene, contrasted with the fake vision of the Holy Virgin Marcello investigates much later. I’m sure the way all the high society actors and socialites our hero encountered spoke in non-sequitors and empty platitudes because it was an artistic way to show the disaffection of the wealthy and the impossibility of true happiness.

Anita Ekberg certainly hammed it up in the process of confirming that Europe has always thought the United States to be kind of air-headed, but nice to look at.

And I’m sure there’s some crazier stuff in 8 ½, from what I’ve heard, but Fellini doesn’t seem to write a good part for the fairer sex. We encounter the following women in La Dolce Vita: Marcello’s suicidal, nutso (ex?) girlfriend who can’t live without him, a disaffected heiress that sleeps with him at a stranger’s house, the ditzy actress that mostly acts like a giggly five-year old, a woman who celebrates her divorce by doing a striptease, and finally, a woman that Marcello rides like a horse and covers with feathers when he’s in a foul mood at that same party, near the end of the film.


The only real movement to the film is that Marcello’s intellectual pal Steiner, one of the few characters not spoiled, selfish, or downright annoying, abruptly kills his two children and then himself two-thirds of the way through. While I’m sure this has a lot to do with Marcello’s bad mood at the party the next day, it’s not really touched upon.

Or maybe I’m just not smart enough to read more into it. Ah well.


Overall- Should It Be Higher, Lower?

Well, I think if you consider the achievement of this film within the larger context of post World War II Italian cinema, then you can- zzzzzzzzzzzzz… buh? Oh sorry, I just nearly bored myself to death.


The Legacy-

Well, it won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and the Palm D’Or at Cannes. So there’s that. I bet there’s a Criterion edition of it and everything. So it must be pretty cool, I guess.

Also, this film popularized the term "paparazzi." So there's that.

The Best Video Of It On YouTube

Apparently, this scene where the actress ends up in a fountain and implores Marcello to join her is one of the most famous in modern cinema. But mostly it just reminds me of this Family Guy takedown of Dharma & Greg. (“Dharma, get down off that couch!” “Nuh-uh, silly, not until you come up here!”).

Leftover Thoughts:

  • I wish they could all be thoughtful discussions, but sometimes I just can’t stay awake. My bad- but for the record, I never asleep, during anything. So it’s almost impressive that Fellini found the right formula of ridiculously slow pacing, prentetiousness, and characters I could care less about to get me to doze off.
  • I did like the scene (parts, anyway) where Marcello spends the evening catching up with his father, and implores him to stay longer. It was a subtle reminder that me was losing touch with his roots in his glamorous gossip magazine lifestyle.
  • The last scene of the film is a girl from an earlier scene in a café trying to call something to Marcello, but he can’t hear her- Women sure are hard to understand, huh Fellini?

0 Response to "IMDB #240 La Dolce Vita"

Powered by Blogger