voyeuristic journey through the self indulgent cliques which make
up the café friendly crowds who feed the main characters
lust for gossip, La Dolce Vita is a fascinating film which
focuses on the cult of celebrity, the publics appetite for scandal,
and the choices made by its lead character who believes that a life
not lived under your own rules can only conclude in tragedy.
Translated from Italian into "The Sweet Life", La Dolce
Vita follows the exploits of playboy entertainment journalist
Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni), who through his work observes
various lifestyles; the celebrity, with the arrival of popular American
actress Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) a voluptuous blonde bombshell who
Marcello falls hard for; the religious, after a miraculous apparition
of the Madonna seen by two young children leads to a media circus;
the domestic, through writer Steiner (Alain Cuny) who seems to be
living a life of family bliss; and the eccentric higher class, who
live a life of decadence and debauchery.
Marcello is a not a figure of moralistic virtue. In fact, he can
be down right repugnant. His treatment of his adoring girlfriend
Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) culminates in her becoming a paranoid, jealous
basket case who attempts to take her own life. She wants to get
married, but he is afraid of domestic life and enjoys his personal
freedom. Yet, unbeknownst to him, she is the anchor who can keep
him from drifting into an aimless, empty life. However, he is so
immersed in his own self worth, that he cannot see salvation in
front of him.
There are two key moments which lead Marcello into a life of repulsiveness.
The first is when Steiner (Alain Cuny) - a respected writer, husband,
and father of two children - advises a stunned Marcello not to desire
a perfect and organized life. Later, Steiner will kill himself and
his two children.
The second moment is when Marcello's father (Annibale Ninchi) visits
his son in Rome. When they attend a club together, the father surprises
the son by turning into a party animal and flirting with a dancing
girl, who takes him back to her place.
Both his father and Steiner are influential figures in Marcello's
life, so it is no wonder that Marcello would turn into the soulless
figure of depravity as depicted in the films final act. It is a
tragic ending to a film full of many wonderful moments, the most
notable being Anita Ekberg's frolicking in a fountain, and eternal
image of beauty and sexuality captured magnificently by director
Also, the film coined the term "Paparazzi", through its
character Paparazzo (Walter Santesso), who along with his motor
scooter riding friends pounce on celebrities just like Hyena's pounce
on their prey.
An enchanting, exemplary morality tale, La Dolce Vita still
holds an enchanting quality despite the at times deplorable actions
of its characters.