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The Long View: A Celebration of Widescreen

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
7:30 p.m. La dolce vita
Federico Fellini (Italy, 1960)

La dolce vita opens with one of the most telling widescreen images ever captured, pure in its symbolism yet entirely mechanical in fact: a helicopter is seen flying over Rome carrying a gigantic statue of Christ to St. Peter’s Cathedral. “Oh, look,” remarks a woman sunbathing below, “there’s Jesus. Where’s he going?” Fellini creates a rich, intricate tapestry of “Rome, the Babylon of my dreams” in La dolce vita, a film in which juxtaposition and composition are finely tuned to exude an air of randomness. The episodic narrative follows a jaded journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) on an odyssey in search of himself amid the decadent, dehumanized beauties of Rome’s glitterati, the sunglasses-at-night crowd. Former journalist Fellini was cunning indeed in casting His Handsomeness to portray his alter-ego, but Mastroianni was cannier still: his Marcello is a shabby soul, chasing miracles he knows to be false, and delivering them as truth.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi. Photographed by Otello Martelli. With Marcello Mastroianni, Yvonne Furneaux, Anouk Aimée, Anita Ekberg. (175 mins, In Italian with English subtitles, B&W, ’Scope, 35mm, From Paramount)

Co-presented by the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco.