Federico Fellini’s epic charts a week in the life of a tabloid journalist (Marcello Mastroianni) as the excesses of modern Roman life go on around him.
Beginning with the startling image of a statue of Christ being transported over the city by helicopter, Fellini’s three-hour panorama of the contemporary Roman ‘good life’ marked a decisive turning point in the director’s career. Leaving behind his small-scale, realism-rooted dramas of the 50s, this episodic story of a tabloid reporter’s comings and goings within the decadent upper reaches of modern Italian society found Fellini moving in a flamboyant new direction.
The film’s atmosphere of moral lassitude, together with its then scandalous sexual frankness, created a popular sensation, introducing the world to the word paparazzi. Together with Antonioni’s L’avventura (1960), its modernity of form and subject matter ushered Italian arthouse cinema into the 1960s. The image of Anita Ekberg cavorting in the Trevi fountain is one of the era’s most iconic.
“Socially and historically a landmark film, sensing, influencing and ambivalently critiquing the role of media, gossip, hedonism and celebrity in modern culture – but all done with brio, scale and complexity achieved with an astonishing lightness of touch, utterly confident in itself as cinema.” Richard Dyer
“Sprawling, infuriating, profoundly inventive – a film world populated by beautiful and sinister creatures that never ceases to surprise.” Belén Vidal
“An acrid romp through a demi-monde choking to death on its own ennui-fuelled excess. We’re all still being deadened by the same cultural hollowness depicted here, just without any of the glamour, our present as garish and frightful as that fish on the beach. If you’re gonna overdose on beauty, you might as well have Anita Ekberg around.” Charles Bramesco