12. “La Dolce Vita”, Federico Fellini (1960)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita or The Sweet Life

dir. Federico Fellini scr. Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi cin. Otello Martelli with Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noël, Alain Cuny, and Nadia Gray

In 100 words: Fellini’s masterpiece is this beautiful nightmare of a movie: at once a joyous display of cinematic craft, definitive style, and auto-reflection and simultaneously, a despairing look at the emptiness of a hedonistic lifestyle. Whereas Antonioni painted a decaying society with empty roads and spaces, Fellini portrayed the same with the opposite: he filled his frames with indelible images of crowds that surround Marcello, or him being with a different beautiful woman every day, or him participating in an orgy. Either way, nothing he does satisfies him, and that’s the point. Vivid images, great choice in music, lovely performance grace notes.

Other Movies for Context: I think about Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty when I see this movie, particularly because Sorrentino’s obvious affection for Fellini are evident. Interestingly enough, I can say the same for Im Sang Soo’s The Taste of Money which just engrosses its characters in so much wealth, without ever finding satisfaction. Fellini’s own 8 1/2 (1963) feels the most similar among his oeuvre, though that’s more of a mess to me than the beautifully orchestrated mess here.

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