Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Movie of the week:

I saw this movie many years ago when I was a young man. I watched it again this past weekend and was amazed by how relevant it still seemed and by how much I enjoyed it. It may seem like a cliche', but they just don't make them like this anymore. Even if it didn't weigh in at about three hours, "epic" would be the right word to describe it.

Considered by many to be one of Federico Fellini's greatest films, LA DOLCE VITA is a study of decadence and indulgence in 1960 Rome. Very funny and fascinating, it could just as well be called, "Lifestyles of the rich and famous ......... in Rome".

Marcello, is a talented writer with a promising future, but he spends his time writing a gossip column for the newspaper. It's mindless and unfulfilling, but it pays well, allowing him to live his lavish lifestyle, and it allows him to mingle with celebrities. That's something that he's reluctant to give up.

Fellini doesn't give us a single continuous plot. Instead, he uses a series of smaller stories to set the tone of the film and to illustrate the ideas he wants to convey. In each successive segment, Marcello becomes more and more disenchanted with his lifestyle - but he can never give it up. Although long, the movie is never boring. If you've never seen a Fellini film, this is a very good place to start.

An interesting bit of trivia: Marcello's friend and colleague in the film is a celebrity photographer named "Paparazzo". You might think that Fellini is being clever here, using the word "paparazzo" for his character - except that this word didn't exist before this movie. The now commonly used word, "paparazzi" originated from this character's name in the movie.

The film is mostly in Italian with some English and a smattering of other languages, with the appropriate subtitles. The dialog is easy enough to follow with the subtitles, but the experience may be enhanced somewhat, by familiarizing oneself with a few simple Italian phrases. For example:

  1. Ciao, bella! - hey baby!
  2. piĆ¹ di vino per piacere - keep the wine coming, baby
  3. guardare mia macchina sportiva - check out my wheels, baby. Let's go for a spin
  4. vedo la madonna dappertutto- I see madonnas everywhere ......... , baby
  5. festa - party, baby, party
  6. fare l'amore - do me, baby, yeah
  7. gatta - you make me want to drool
  8. Marcello, come here - granted that it's already in English and it's only a useful phrase if you are Marcello, or you're with a Marcello, but if Anita Ekberg says "Marcello, come here." - believe me, your name is going to be Marcello.
  9. da cento per cento - 100%. That's what this film scored on the tomatometer.
Open some Chianti, rent LA DOLCE VITA, and .....


At 9:31 PM, Blogger Jan Andrea said...

I am totally going to rent this and learn Italian from it. It'll be safe for Teresa's, right? :lol:

At 11:08 PM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

I am including this in their next dvd care package, although I'm fairly certain they've already seen it.

I refreshed my long-lost Italian comprehension with the Pimsleur course. It was amazing how much of the movie I could understand without looking at the sub-titles ........... especially the dialog that was in English.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Jan Andrea said...

Okay... I watched this over the weekend, and I have to admit my initial reaction is pretty much the same as when I read "The Great Gatsby". Loathed every character, could not sympathize with any of them, thought they were all idiots, etc. Which I suspect is the idea. What's the point of having a charmed life if you can't enjoy its charms? I'll keep my happy middle-class existence, I think.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger FranksFilms said...

I think you're exactly right. That was the point. This was (is) the sort of decadent lifestyle enjoyed (?) by the rich and famous. Why do they act like idiots ........ because they can, because they don't know any better, because acting like actual feeling caring humans is too much work ..... take your pick. And although you don't want to be like them (especially when you see them through the eye of the camera, as in this movie), you would still like to have that charmed life. Why else are people so obsessed with celebrity?


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home