La Dolce Vita (“The Sweet Life”) is a study of crippling boredom, leading to artistic paralysis and loose sexual morals, played out against the decadence of post-war Roman cafe society.
Federico Fellini’s imagination runs riot with a series of striking, brilliantly photographed images as his central character, a journalist played by Marcello Mastroianni, lives out 24 hours in search of a story.
Mastroianni is outstanding here as the journalist who, by day, jostles with the paparazzi in the hunt for movie stars, while by night, he indulges his passion for intellectual pretension and the indolent delights of the jet set.
Memorable scenes include a huge statue of Christ flown over Rome, Anita Ekberg drenched in the Trevi Fountain with a kitten on her head and Nadia Gray hosting an orgy at which she performs a striptease.
Here is a contrived world of shoddy pleasures in a film that amazes and enthrals – an undoubted cinematic masterpiece.
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, this sprawling, scathing satire on the decadence of contemporary Italy and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church confirmed Fellini’s reputation for flamboyant, controversial imagery.
A dire warning that Italy was still politically and socially prone to the false promises of Fascism, this almost Dantesque odyssey so drained its Oscar-nominated director, he did not make another feature for three years.