La Dolce Vita review – Why this 63 year old Italian movie is still so current and modern

Ahead of the launch of the 13th edition of Cinema Made in Italy by Cinecittà and Ciné Lumière last week, I went to The Italian Cultural Institute in London to watch La Dolce Vita, the famous 1960 Italian film directed by Federico Fellini and masterfully restored in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna. 

The film follows the life of Marcello Rubini, a journalist who is seeking happiness and success in Rome, but finds himself lost in a world of decadence and excess. The restored version of the film is a masterpiece of cinema, and its enduring popularity speaks to the timeless themes it explores.

la dolce vita movie poster

One reason for the film’s ongoing relevance is its exploration of the human condition. La Dolce Vita delves into the nature of desire, pleasure, and the search for meaning in life. Marcello Rubini is a complex character who struggles to balance his professional aspirations with his personal desires. He is a man who is always searching for something more, but is never satisfied with what he has. This is a theme that is still relevant today, as people continue to grapple with the challenges of modern life.

Another reason for the film’s enduring appeal is its visual and aesthetic qualities. The restored version of La Dolce Vita is a feast for the eyes, with its stunning black and white cinematography and iconic scenes of Rome. The film captures the essence of the city and its inhabitants, showcasing the beauty and the decay of a society in transition. The locations where the film was shot, such as the Trevi Fountain, the Via Veneto, and the Colosseum, are still popular tourist destinations today, and the film’s depiction of these landmarks has helped to cement their place in popular culture.

The fashion in the film is also notable, as it reflects the changing styles and attitudes of the era. The 1960s were a time of great change in Italy, and the film captures this through its portrayal of the fashion and lifestyles of the characters. The film’s iconic images of Anita Ekberg in a black strapless dress at the Trevi Fountain and Marcello Mastroianni in his sharp suits have become cultural touchstones that continue to influence fashion today.

The cast of the film is also noteworthy, with Marcello Mastroianni giving a standout performance as Marcello Rubini. Mastroianni captures the conflicted nature of the character, showcasing his charm, wit, and intelligence, but also his vulnerabilities and flaws. The chemistry between Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg is also palpable, adding to the film’s sense of passion and romance. The supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from Anouk Aimee, Yvonne Furneaux, and Alain Cuny.

The restored version of La Dolce Vita is a masterpiece of cinema that continues to captivate audiences today. Its exploration of the human condition, its visual and aesthetic qualities, its depiction of Rome, its fashion, and its cast all contribute to its ongoing relevance. Federico Fellini’s legacy as a filmmaker is secured by this iconic film, which remains a touchstone of modern cinema.


Federico Fellini’s influence on the work of Paolo Sorrentino and Luca Guadagnino

Federico Fellini is undoubtedly one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema, having left a profound impact on Italian cinema and the international film community. From his innovative storytelling techniques to his visually stunning cinematography, Fellini’s work has inspired countless filmmakers across generations. Two of the most prominent directors who have been heavily influenced by Fellini’s work are Paolo Sorrentino and Luca Guadagnino.

la grande bellezza movie poster

Paolo Sorrentino, known for his bold and experimental films, has been open about his admiration for Fellini. Sorrentino’s 2013 film The Great Beauty (La Grande bellezza) is often compared to Fellini’s 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita due to their similar themes of excess and existential crisis. In fact, Sorrentino has cited La Dolce Vita as one of the films that inspired him to become a filmmaker. Like Fellini, Sorrentino is known for his vivid and surreal visuals, which create a dreamlike atmosphere that blurs the line between reality and fantasy.

Sorrentino’s latest work, The New Pope, is also heavily influenced by Fellini’s films. In an interview with Variety, Sorrentino revealed that the series was partly inspired by Fellini’s 1972 film “Roma,” which explores the director’s personal memories and experiences of growing up in Rome. The New Pope similarly takes a surreal and satirical look at the Vatican and its inner workings, using absurdist humour and striking visuals to explore themes of power, corruption, and faith.

Luca Guadagnino, on the other hand, has been more subtle in his homage to Fellini, but his films are nonetheless deeply influenced by the Italian master. Guadagnino’s breakout film “I Am Love” is often compared to Fellini’s “La Strada,” which explores the struggles of a travelling circus performer. Both films use vivid colours, dreamlike imagery, and a sense of magic realism to create a captivating atmosphere that immerses the audience in the story.




Guadagnino’s most recent film, Call Me by Your Name, has also been compared to Fellini’s work. The film’s dreamy atmosphere, lush cinematography, and exploration of desire and sexuality bear similarities to Fellini’s 1973 film “Amarcord,” which takes a nostalgic and whimsical look at life in a small Italian town. Guadagnino’s upcoming film, Bones and All, is also said to be inspired by Fellini’s work, particularly his 1957 film Nights of Cabiria, which follows a streetwalker searching for love and redemption.


film bones and all poster

call me by your name movie poster luca guadagnino






Fellini’s influence on Sorrentino and Guadagnino extends beyond their films’ visuals and themes. Both directors have also been inspired by Fellini’s creative process and his unique approach to filmmaking. Fellini was known for his improvisational style and his willingness to experiment with unconventional techniques, such as using non-professional actors and shooting without a script. Sorrentino and Guadagnino have similarly pushed the boundaries of filmmaking, often taking risks and trying new things to create something truly original.

In conclusion, it is clear that Federico Fellini has had a profound influence on the work of Paolo Sorrentino and Luca Guadagnino. From their surreal visuals to their bold storytelling, these two directors have drawn heavily from Fellini’s work to create their own unique visions of the world. By paying homage to Fellini’s legacy, Sorrentino and Guadagnino have not only continued his tradition of innovation and experimentation but have also cemented his place as one of the most enduring and influential filmmakers of all time.


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