Italy/France, 1960, 174 min
Considered revolutionary at the time of its release, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita changed the landscape of international filmmaking. Being condemned by the Catholic Church in Italy as “immoral” naturally led to its breaking all box-office records there. In the United States it is still one of the most-seen foreign films of all time. The film chronicles seven nights and the dawns that follow as journalist Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) pursues “the sweet life” in postwar Rome, floating between the decadent high society lifestyle he seeks with his rich lover and a Swedish bombshell, and the stifling domesticity offered by his suicidal girlfriend. The film’s iconic images—the statue of Christ being flown over Rome, Anita Ekberg frolicking in the Trevi Fountain in her evening gown—have become unforgettable snapshots of a society in glamorous decay. Fellini brilliantly conducts Otello Martelli’s sparkling black-and-white cinematography—restored to pristine condition in this gorgeous new print—as well as Nino Rota’s jazzy score and one of Mastroianni’s finest performances, all in a work that encapsulates the filmmaker’s many gifts to cinema. Here in a rousing, moody and unforgettable masterpiece, Fellini offers us life in all its tragedy and beauty, absurdity and magic. Originally scheduled to be shown as the Opening Night film at the 1960 SFIFF (the film was pulled at the last minute by the distributor), the Festival finally, proudly presents La Dolce Vita.
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with The Film Foundation, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Mediaset-Medusa, Paramount Pictures and Cinecittà Luce. Restoration funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. Special support for this program generously provided by Max and David Glynn. Presented in association with Italian Cultural Institute, San Francisco.