Federico Fellini’s masterpiece, “La Dolce Vita”, is a comedy-drama film produced in 1960, which comments on how new, modern society has been built upon and replaced the tradition and culture of Rome. The distractions and superficialities of this newly constructed reality are exemplified by the love life of the protagonist, Marcello. All of the women with whom Marcello has affairs (Maddelena, Sylvia, etc.) represent the young, unstable reality created in the Italian postwar period. These women are contrasted by Marcello’s fiancée, Emma, who provides our protagonist with a source of stable, unconditional love, and represents the safe, old-fashioned prewar world in Rome. “La Dolce Vita” is a commentary on artificial, dazzling world reconstructed in the wake of the destruction of the war.
A scene that serves well to exemplify this theme is the film’s opening sequence. A plaster statue of Christ is being transported via helicopter to the Vatican as journalist Marcello and photographer Paparazzo follow in a second helicopter. At first, the scene portrayed is a rather majestic one: as the statue is being suspended in the air, it gives the impression of Christ flying over the city to guard/protect/bless it. But then, the news helicopter is distracted by a group of women sunbathing on a rooftop. What Fellini has created here is a scene where this massive religious icon is shunned for the frivolous activity of spying on half-closed women; postwar Rome has lost sight of what is truly important.
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