|The ecclesiastical fashion show!|
FELLINI'S ROMA (1972). Director: Federico Fellini.
In his love-valentine to the wonders, joys, excesses and beauties of Rome, Fellini has fashioned not a true documentary -- many scenes are staged -- but a mock documentary that expresses his conflicted feelings about the great world capital. The film bounces back and forth in time, with the main 1940's "storyline" involving a young man (Peter Gonzales Falcon, apparently playing a young Fellini) who comes to board with a family and attends a delightfully vulgar variety show with a rowdy audience (one mother just lets her child piss right in the aisle), experiences an air raid, and goes to a brothel or two. In one "low-class" whore house the hookers are almost as old and unattractive as the madames, and the situation in the more expensive brothel isn't much better. In modern sequences an underground chamber with ancient frescoes is uncovered during an excavation for a new subway, but the fresh air destroys them. There is a scene showing busy traffic entering Rome from the airport, and a more memorable sequence showing dozens of motor cyclists zooming all around the city. The highlight of the film, of course, is the ecclesiastical fashion show [see photo], an irreverent look at the clergy in all their popinjay finery.
Verdict: A mixed bag, interesting, but hardly a masterpiece like I vitelloni . ***.