Cinema Italiano

La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini)

I just finished watching Federico Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita and I am still working to process it. Clocking in at nearly three hours, the movie is a lot to take in. The movie revolutionized filmmaking with its non-linear storytelling. Tossing aside traditional narrative and character development, the movie instead tells its story in a series of 7 episodes all centering on the empty life of tabloid journalist Marcello Rubini (played by the effortlessly charming Marcello Mastroianni). In these vignettes, Marcello meets a vast array of characters who we somewhat get to know but, much like Marcello’s own experience, never really care about.

Although we may not get a full grasp on this rotating cast of characters, the one constant is passion. In a late scene,  Marcello and fiancee Emma (a withering performance from Yvonne Furneaux) get into a huge argument while driving in his car. The argument ends with Marcello forcibly removing Emma from his car while both scream that they never want to see the other again. In the next scene, we see Marcello drive up to the same spot he kicked Emma out, pick her up, and take her home to bed. This same Italian fire surges through The Godfather series, The Sopranos, Moonstruck, and even today’s trashy Jersey Shore. Marcello’s fire sometimes extended to violence, especially towards women, which reminds me of the “Snookie Incident” on Jersey Shore where one of the female cast members gets decked in the face by a stranger during a bar fight. It makes me realize that human nature never really changes, only the trappings. There were several aristocratic party scenes in the movie that I could have imagined modern aristocrats such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan attending. In 50 years, not much has changed.

I would not recommend this film to the casual moviegoer. It takes a lot of patience to sit through and the subtitles and intentionally poor dubbing, not to mention the plot, can get a little confusing if you’re not paying attention. However, if you want to see a revolutionary film full of gorgeous costumes and cinematography, I suggest you dive right in.

Seen the movie? Leave a comment!

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