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La dolce vita

36. La Dolce Vita (1960)

R.I.P. Anita Ekberg

Before seeing this film, you might think that this is simply a large film that shows a glorified and beautiful version of Rome's nightlife spiced with some drama between the elitist characters. Well, in a way you wouldn't be completely wrong, but on the other hand, this film is also completely the opposite of that.

The film does bring us to some wonderful places and most of the time shows wealthy and handsome people partying and getting it on with eachother, but instead of romanticizing this lifestyle that many people always fantasize about so much, Fellini reveals the dark truth about what's beneath all the magnificent clothes, stylish clubs, expensive cars, liters of booze and evenings of sex...

In this world of careless partying and enormous wealth, it seems like noone is actually truly happy. Something seems to be wrong, but what could it possibly be? Don't these people have everything they can wish for?

The sad tragedy that Fellini exposes, is the fact that these characters are all stuck in a superficial reality they can't escape from. They're the people who seem to have everything, but all of them are looking for something "more" in life. True love, true connection, a purpose, something that will distract them from the senselessness of their existence and their way of living.
That's not everything, though. What's truly the problem is the "can't escape" part. They are in a way addicted to the emptiness of their existence too. They know they're unhappy with their current status, but at the same time they're not strong, willing or capable enough to turn everything around anymore. They've lost all hope and simply keep going from one wild, but ultimately unfulfilling orgy to the next.

This film does a brilliant job at making the viewer understand the temptations that guide Marcello Mastroianni's character in the first place, but probably even more so the ultimate philosophical hangover he experpiences when he realizes he's wasting every bit of true potential within him. The title "La Dolce Vita" couldn't be more cynical...

AND YET this film is not really as depressing as I'm making it appear. Fellini knows that life is not black or white, that's it's not complete doom and gloom, nor moonlight and roses. There's a sadness and darkness present in this picture, but don't let that distract you from all the sheer beauty and sweetness it also has to offer.