May 6, 2016No Comments

La dolce vita

Every film, a painting

by Mélody Boulissière

April 27, 2016No Comments

La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini, 1960

In his review of La Dolce VitaRoger Ebert makes an affectionate and gentle description of his relation to the film’s main character, Marcello, throughout the countless viewings over the years:

“Movies do not change, but their viewers do. When I saw “La Dolce Vita” in 1960, I was an adolescent for whom “the sweet life” represented everything I dreamed of: sin, exotic European glamour, the weary romance of the cynical newspaperman. When I saw it again, around 1970, I was living in a version of Marcello’s world; Chicago’s North Avenue was not the Via Veneto, but at 3 a.m. the denizens were just as colorful, and I was about Marcello’s age.

When I saw the movie around 1980, Marcello was the same age, but I was 10 years older, had stopped drinking, and saw him not as a role model but as a victim, condemned to an endless search for happiness that could never be found, not that way. By 1991, when I analyzed the film a frame at a time at the University of Colorado, Marcello seemed younger still, and while I had once admired and then criticized him, now I pitied and loved him. And when I saw the movie right after Mastroianni died, I thought that Fellini and Marcello had taken a moment of discovery and made it immortal. There may be no such thing as the sweet life. But it is necessary to find that out for yourself.”

I can’t help but make the same sort of comparison, now, on my third viewing. If my memory’s aftertaste was always tied to Anita Ekberg’s spinning allure, this time I seem to be transfixed by Marcello’s tired gaze, at the party’s end, on the beach. Films are a great self-reflection tool.


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