Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

La Dolce Vita

(Italy/France, 1960)

Recently restored and released on DVD. It had been quite a few years since I’d seen it, so we rented it … and pretty soon I realized that I had never seen it. I’ve seen just about all the “classics,” the great films, but there are gaps here and there. I hadn’t realized it was so long, almost 3 hours. It is gorgeous to look at. I think Fellini had a black and white heart. The shadows and lighting are awesome. I’ve liked or loved all his earlier films in B&W, didn’t care for most of the color ones.

To me, this one has dated a bit. I know it was revolutionary and shocking in its time, nobody but Ingmar Bergman and a few French new wave directors like Alain Resnais were making films like this at the time. But there have been plenty since. It is pretty much a series of episodes that don’t lead to much: rich people leading empty lives and the meaningless journalists who cover them, the cult of celebrity which was just getting started. The word “paparazzi” (sparrow, in Italian) for twittering, predatory flocks of those who flatter themselves as “photojournalists.” It was Marcello’s nickname for his photographer buddy, and the name caught on. It is full of Fellini’s usual trademark symbols, religious and circus and show biz. It is just terrific to look at and I was never bored, but I much prefer his earthier works like Nights of Cabiria and Variety Lights, or for a work of existential ambiguity, 8 1/2.