La Dolce Vita (1961)

on April 19, 1961 by BOXOFFICE Staff
  Whether the viewer regards "La Dolce Vita" as being shocking, sordid, sexy or moralistic, there can be no denial that it is a picture that reaches perfection in its technical and artistic presentation. The attention paid to the slightest detail to attain realism is almost astounding. And, too, nobody can deny that it is controversial and probably will cause considerable controversy when seen by all strata of society.
   Rarely, if ever, has a picture reflected decadence, immorality and sophistication with such depth, bringing into sharp focus the nobleman, the prostitute, the homosexual, the intellectual, the nymphomaniac, all woven into a series of satiric panoramas of life today. In this picture, the locale is Rome, but the events probably could take place in any large city, and very likely do.
   Federico Fellini's direction and his skill in selecting the right performer for each of the scores of roles are almost uncanny in their execution. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that the players are acting because they are so natural in their portrayals.
   "La Dolce Vita" actually is a series of episodes, held together by a thread -- the thread being Marcello Mastroianni, a newspaperman, who, in his search for news, is swept up in the maelstrom of life at all levels and becomes involved with characters, intriguing and unsavory, and with events. Among them are a suicidal mistress, a nymphomaniac heiress, a Hollywood film star, two lying children who claim they have seen the Virgin Mary, a degenerate nobility, a murderous intellectual and scores of writers, artists, parasites and other apathetic characters.
   To American audiences, the most well-known players are Anita Ekberg, portraying a ravishing visiting Hollywood star, and Lex Barker, her indifferent fiance.
   As the saying goes, no punches were pulled in depicting the wild orgies in night clubs, homes and villas. And yet they have been directed with such finesse that they do not appear to be tawdry or cheap.
   The picture is sure to create a division of opinions. As an example, in Rome one priest would tell his parishioners not to see the picture, while another would stress the Christian aspects of it. Needless to say, the film is strictly for adults.
   On the negative side, one might ask what the picture is trying to prove? If there is a moral in it, it is difficult to discern unless it is attempting to show the emptiness and futility of today's society. If that is the motive, it has proved its point. Most likely, however, the picture will be patronized strictly for its entertainment values -- by adults, of course and very broadminded adults at that. Its boxoffice potential is unlimited, as long as there is no effective action by pressure groups. The picture was produced by Giuseppe Amato for Riama Film. It is in Italian with English titles. Filmed in Totalscope. Astor Pictures 180 mins.
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