Roma (Fellini, 1972)

Fellini warns the viewer right away Roma will not be a narrative in the traditional sense. What follows are a series of strange and hypnotic vignettes geared toward exploring the sensuality and contradictions of Rome as a city, some taking place in WWII Rome and others involving a film crew shooting the city in present day. Fellini cuts back and forth seamlessly, which fits quite nicely with his disavowal of story arc. A few of the vignettes brilliantly convey Fellini’s obsessions with the church, family life, and sex, all wonderfully shot by Guiseppe Rotunno. The church fashion show is the best scene in the film, a surreal combination of commercialism and Italy’s most famous institution, making the rest of the film look downright lazy at times by comparison. For all of it’s visual beauty, Roma suffers from Fellini overload, otherwise known as blatant incoherence and indulgence. It’s like watching over two hours of someone’s warped impressions of the past, with all the bright and wonderful colors, but without any structure or lasting substance. This is of course, on first glance, and maybe my thoughts on this period in Fellini’s filmography will change upon further viewings. Right now, the thought-provoking storytelling of the early Fellini (La Strada, Nights of Cabiria) strikes a longer lasting chord with me than the the wacky and sex crazed style of Roma. But any Fellini print on the big screen is worth checking out.- Screened at the 2007 San Diego Latino Film Festival

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