La Dolce Vita (1960)
Opposites That Blend Together
22 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Fellini. The very word strikes fear into the heart of some linear film goers. But to others he is a God of film, people demand respect for him and follow his leads. La Dolce Vita is a film where there's no real plot, but the many misadventures of a writer Marcello as he travels around Rome looking for the latest gossip, story and fun.

La Dolce Vita is a film full of strong opposites that blend themselves in together almost seamlessly. The infamous opening scene of two helicopters flying across Rome during the day, one of them carrying a giant statue of Jesus Christ, goes quickly from a pure and holy symbol to an older man, Marcello, hitting on some younger girls. The next scene opens up with a close up shot of a mask from the east and performance during night. The eastern religious event is seen as entertainment. Western religion up against Eastern religion. Day against night. West meets east happens later in the film when the Virgin Mary is seen in the tree by the two young children in the country side. The location which was once peaceful and run down quickly becomes a media circus and descends into absolute chaos showing off the greedy side of humanity. Perhaps it's social commentary about religion and how it feels like it is just a game or that people believe in whatever the seers see. This scene is followed by a more sober and calmer party after a funeral for a friend of Marcello. Here once again the east is shown with great appreciation.

La Dolce Vita also focuses on the work of paparazzi who Marcello usually works with. The rabid dog like want to get the picture for the paper and get paid the most. The photographers chase after the statue in the helicopter in the beginning, they go after Italian royalty, to film starlet to high class socialites to the children who see the Virgin Mary. The paparazzi seem to be around just when things are going bad: the Virgin Mary tree being ripped apart, Sylvia and her boyfriend fighting at the club and at the hotel and the Italian royal being caught with another woman. But they are never around when Sylvia takes care of a small kitten, or when Marcello gets closer to his father, or when Sylvia reaches the top of the Vatican tower. Nothing sells like bad news.

As Marcello is traveling around Rome he realizes that he is surrounded by people who are either happy: Sylvia is a carefree raising actress who enjoys a good time, his father as a man full of experience and is still having fun, his rich acquiescence has an easy going life, his mentor is married, has two kids and a loving wife and a good job. But on closer inspection: Sylvia has a jealous boyfriend who abuses her twice in the movie, his father lied to his mother and to Marcello about things he did, his rich socialite friend is bored with her life and his mentor kills his kids and himself. Marcello's own attempts at having a happy life by try having a few nights with his rich friend last just that, a night or so. He tries to woo Sylvia, but looses out. He tries to be a good boyfriend to his girlfriend but they don't work out. Marcello finds himself lost, looking for something he doesn't have and can't seem to hold on to for more then a few minutes, happiness.

La Dolce Vita may not make sense to many people when they first see it. They may see it as a long boring movie with no real start or end, but it's after the movie is done and discussion starts and the movie sets in and the viewer realizes what they just saw. Fellini has earned his respect.
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