File - Inland Empire

Jesus Avalos
Dr. Zapata
October 30, 2013
RP: La Dolce Vita: Italian Neorealism
Wholeness is given to the moral and socio-economic reality of a post-war
Rome in the film La Dolce Vita. Although the film was scripted, it achieved a
powerful sense of actuality in its storytelling, depicting the main character, Marcello
Mastroianni, going about his daily life as a paparazzo journalist. Federico Fellini’s La
dolce Vita demonstrates a lifestyle in its entirety; the beautiful and the ugly aspects
of society. It depicts how the reality of others affects one’s own through its main
character Marcello. Elements of cinematography, and symbolism throughout the
film’s mise-en-scene contribute to the unique atmosphere of this Italian neorealist
The film La dolce Vita presents a concept of asymmetry among the figurative
symbolisms throughout its mise-en-scene. In other words, the contrast between two
objects in scenery helps portray a contrast between upper and working class,
between innocence and corruption, and between the job life and the nightlife. A
conflict between two objects is demonstrated in the shot transition between the
opening scenes of the film. The opening scene depicts a low-angle shot of two
helicopters, one carrying a large statue of Jesus Christ, the other helicopter following
it. In their procession, the helicopters hover over the ruins of Roman aqueducts, a
cultural and architectural symbol of the Roman Empire. The low-angle shot of the
helicopters continues as Jesus Christ symbolically hovers above the urban area of
Rome capturing images of the children running the streets of an urban Rome under
construction. In a sense, the sunbathing Italian ladies wearing bikinis represent the
upper class of society, as the scene captures the statue hovering over the women
enjoying the sun on top of a luxurious building. The scene continues into an aerial
shot of the statue hovering above the Vatican City. As the opening scene comes to an
end, it captures a medium shot of the statue of Jesus, cutting to another aerial shot of
St. Peter’s Square. The next scene continues with a cut transition to a medium closeup shot of a masked Arabian dancer.
The significance of the Statue’s Procession above Rome is that it comes
across the different stages of society. It starts from a past Roman Empire
represented through the aqueduct ruins, and ends with a new global Roman
Institution, the Catholic Church represented in St. Peter’s square. In between the
procession, Federico Fellini captures the difference between socio-economic classes
in Rome from the urban areas in development to the more luxurious housing areas.
The opening scene of La dolce Vita demonstrates a contrast between past and
present Roman establishments, and a contrast between the socio-economic classes
in Rome during the time. The most symbolic asymmetry although, is found in the
transition of the opening scene to the next; ending with the close up shot of the
statue of Jesus Christ and cutting to a close up shot of a performer wearing an
Arabian mask. These figures suggest a conflict of ideologies, especially in the
manner in which they appear one after the other on the screen.
Although the film La dolce Vita emphasizes a division between realities in the
society of Rome, one link that connects these into a reality of its own is the main
character Marcello. The story of La dolce vita captures the life of this paparazzo
journalist in the midst of these contrasting realities. One film technique used to
emphasize the wholeness of Marcello’s life involves the character’s appearance in
long shots throughout scenes in La dolce Vita. For example, a long shot captures
Marcello’s human figure in its entirety in the scene where the character of
Maddalena takes Marcello into an empty room during a party in a countryside
palazzo. Within the frame, Marcello is placed in the center of the empty “room for
serious talks”. Much like Fellini captures the reality of Marcello’s lifestyle in its
entirety, he literally does the same with the protagonist’s human form.
The uneasy feeling that Marcello Mastroianni transmitted on the screen
through his facial expressions is an example of how the Italian Neorealist La dolce
Vita may have influenced film noir in Hollywood. In various scenes the image of
Marcello reflects a state of guilt and depression, much like the psychological
alienation portrayed by the protagonist of a film noir. According to the author of
“American Cinema/ American Culture”, film noir could be defined as an active
phenomenon that produces certain emotional disorientations that are enough to
give the audience an unsettling twist (Belton 225). A scene in La dolce Vita depicts a
sad clown performing with a trumpet at a nightclub. Playing the instrument he
inexplicably manipulates balloons on the floor as an act of magic. Fellini connects
two states of illusion in this scene as the clown shares an intimate stare in an eyeline
match with Marcello; one illusion being the surreal circus act, and the other being
the extravagancy of Marcello’s lifestyle.
Works Cited
Belton, John. American Cinema / American Culture. McGraw-Hill Companies,
The, 2012. Print.