|Marcello Mastroianni and Anika Ekberg|
La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita / The Sweet Life
Federico Fellini, 1960
Wednesday 20 October 2010 11.32 BST
Previously associated with neo realist tales of poverty and hardship, Federico Fellini's career, and Italy's public image, took a sudden shift here. It was time to replace those associations of bombed-out, postwar landscapes with hip, thriving modern culture in all its glory and squalor.
Always a master of the grand tableau, Fellini captures Rome in staggering breadth, from the opening aerial shots of the city, the narrow streets, prostitutes' bedrooms through to aristocratic homes and around the historic landmarks on the back of a Vespa. He's like a tireless, voluble tour guide; you're never quite sure where he's going but you're compelled to follow.
|Marcello Mastroinanni and Anita Ekberg|
La Dolce Vita
His protagonist, Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni), is also led along for much of the picture, a journalist on the trail of the next story or in thrall to the new idols of the age, such as the Hollywood starlet Sylvia (Anita Ekberg), after whom he wades into the Trevi fountain in the film's most famous scene.
Rubini is the epitome of continental suaveness, but he's a conflicted soul, prey to the city's tensions – between tradition and modernity, morality and hedonism, fantasy and reality. It's easy to forget how fresh and bold this all was at the time, and how the film was condemned by the Catholic church and Italian patriots, among many others.