La dolce vita

A helicopter flies over Rome dangling a gigantic statue of Christ. “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. “Whither Jesus?” is a question, perhaps addressed, perhaps dismissed in witty set pieces like Anita Ekberg's visit to St. Peter's wearing a tight-fitting curé's habit, or Marcello staring down a dead fish, with its enormous open eye. 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.

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