Acclaimed director Federico Fellini (Fellini's Satyricon, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2) brilliantly demonstrates why he is regarded as "the last of the great epic filmmakers," delivering "a thrilling personal memoir" (Newsweek) ... more »with this monumental and outlandish tribute to his beloved RomeThe Eternal City. This lavish autobiography, full of "lush fantasy sequences and monumental pageantry," (Los Angeles Times) begins with Fellini as a youngster living in the Italian countryside. In school he studies the eclectic but parochial history of ancient Rome and then is introduced as a young man to the real thingarriving in this strange new city on the outbreak of World War II. Here, through a series of "visually stunning" (Los Angeles Times) vignettes brimming with satire and spark, the filmmaker comes to grips with a "sprawling, boisterous, bursting-at-the-seams portrait of Rome" (Interview), reinterpreting with his inimitable style an Italian history full of "rich sensual imagery and extravagant perception" (Playboy).« less
"Fellini's Roma is a delight for the senses. You do have to throw out your ideas of a conventional narrative, as the vignettes seems to go in a completely random order. Some ideas come back (the bordello, the outdoor restaurants, the apartment living), but they do change every time. Like a dream, or a David Lynch film (it looks like both Lynch and David Byrne watched this film about a million times before Lynch did Lost Highway or Byrne did True Stories), there is a hazy surrealism to the film. The colors and stories are interesting and exciting and the transformations that take place within them (the ride around Rome "like the ring around Saturn" turns from interesting (having never been there) to boring (you keep moving and moving and moving) to tragic, all in a few minutes) are all fascinating. Favorite vignettes include the subway ride to frescos and the old woman and cronies to the fashion show (yes, another thing Byrne stole, as he did the talent show). Is this the "real" Rome? Not a chance, but it does keep you occupied during the two hours. Gore Vidal makes a "end of the world" cameo, which is a strange touch, but fits in with the film. This is definitely a film which needs to be seen more than once, and does fit in with other Fellini films, everything from Satyricon (the same loopy lack of narrative structure) to City of Women (everything from the fabulous bordello scenes to the boxing match). This is not the best Fellini (the two aforementioned films and 8 1/2 (release it on dvd dammit) and And the Ship Sailed On), but it is an interesting journey. Hippies and the colleseum are well worth the time. Four stars out of a possible five from me."
Fellini's mixture of strange & contradicting images of Roma
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 07/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Opening narration: "The film you are about to see does not have a story in the traditional sense with a neat plot and characterss that you can follow from the beginning to the end. This pictures tells another kind of story--the story of a city." And Fellini gives a loving, sometimes poking playful commentary, at times tragic portrait of Rome from his time as a boy in Fascist Italy to 1972, when this film was made.Rome. As in Romulus and Remus, the river Tiber, Julius Caesar, the Colisseum, it's a city steeped in history as a great empire that rose and fell, and the film starts with Caesar and the crossing of the Rubicon, and how he is still revered in school. There is even a statue of Caesar in his town: "apart from his usefulness to the pigeons, he was a common meeting place for the town."Speaking of common meeting places, there are two scenes where that aspect is emphasized. Fellini recalls of the apartment block where he stayed for a while, agog at the various characters, crying children, scolding mothers, etc. Eating was taken seriously, and who ate? Kids, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, friends of friends... there must have been at least a hundred or so people at the dinner feast. As one woman tells him, "They say eat alone, the devil cheers. Eat with friends, the devil jeers." The table is rife with complaints, insults, greetings, even a little girl who sings an obscene song, eliciting laughter and scandalized looks. Similarly, there is the Festa De Noantri, the Festival Of Ourselves, where the Romans celebrate themselves, and the celebrants are either long-time residents or people who thought they were passing by and stayed forever. The term "carnival-of-life" has been used to describe Fellini's movies, and this is very true here.Fellini's film unit visually "describe[s] the entry into thecity via the ring of motorways that surrounds her [Rome] like a Saturn of rings." The scene of the modern super highway speaks of the tragic toll industrialization has taken, and the raining deluge adds to the misery. Hitchhikers, prostitutes, cement trucks, even a tank and a guy pushing a cart, highway patrol, communist student protesters, insane bumper to bumper traffic, and the most tragic scene, an overturned and burning truck-trailer, dead cows littering the road, firefighters fighting the blaze. Yet history does rear its head. Plans to make a Roman subway is halted and delayed because of the unpredictable Roman subsoil. "Every 100 yards, you come across something of historical importance." The workers have to learn speleology and archaeology as a result. And when will the subway be done? Who knows?At a wartime variety show, an intellectual-looking member of the audience remarks, "We are seeing basic humanity here. Vaudeville is the arena of mass aggressiveness, a combination circus and brothel." Given the rowdiness of certain coarse members of the audience who heckle at comics or whistle at the girls, that's true enough. But might that not also be a commentary on Rome and maybe any large city?There's also the pleasant enough handsome Peter Gonzalez portraying the young Fellini and we see the look of 1930's Rome through his eyes. Interesting images and characters underpoint any Fellini film and this is no different. The huge hulk of a man at the theatre who has a wet rag thrown at his face, a religious fashion show that becomes garish, and the various prostitutes at the brothel are just some of them. Interesting commentary on brothels and churches: "an invitation to sin, one that could be confessed to the next day."So what is Rome, in the end? A city that has died and been resurrected so many times, that it's fitting to witness the coming end of civilization from there as Gore Vidal says? The vestal virgin and she-wolf, an aristocrat and tramp, a somber buffoon? The unflattering latter is given to actress Anna Magnani, whom Fellini calls the living symbol of Rome--(she died a year after this brief appearance). In the end, I'd say all these things and more."
A magical film, the very best of Fellini!
Bunny Man! | Seattle, WA USA | 12/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ROMA is a total treat of a movie. Rather than a continuous, plotted narative, it provides vignettes of "typical" Roman life. For my mind, it provides some of the strongest images ever filmed. Highlights include a totally irreverent ecclesiastical fashion show that is not to be missed, and a journey into an archaeological treasure beneath the streets of Rome. It features traffic, life during World War II, apartment life, eating, and delightful visits to the red light district.This isn't a film for children. It IS a film you simply must see!"
Rome out of a dream
Shimon | Goldens Bridge, NY USA | 05/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, the worst. The sound is HORRIBLE. Not because of any master-to-DVD transfer problems but because all the sound was post-synchronized in the original production. This means that the dialog seldom lines up with the actor(s) and it always has an ambience that has nothing to do with the scene. That was a very common characteristic of Italian movies at that time. As annoying as the sound is, so are the visuals fascinating. Very few directors have the imagination that Fellini had and there are many scenes which convey his trademark sense of absurdity and surrealism. And probably no other director ever combined satire with a love of his subjects so powerfully. If you buy this DVD because you remembered the movie fondly from 25 or 30 years ago, be warned that it often comes across as very dated. But the beauty of "Roma" is that you can jump around without disturbing any continuity because it's really a collection of (long) vignettes. And most likely some of them will be better remembered than others. If you love Fellini's work, none of what you see will surprise you. If you're not familiar with it, this is as exemplary of Fellini's work as you can get and you'll soon realize that no one makes movies like this anymore."
More real than real
D. McClure | Wilmington, DE United States | 04/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In watching this film, especially the parts shot at 'home' in the apartment, one gets that alien feeling as if showing embarassing home movies to a stranger. There is an unapologetic "this is life, have some wine and pasta and shut up you mouth" feel to parts of this movie that I wouldn't change! Having been raised mostly by an Italian family, I noticed certain subtle things about the people depicted, especially in the big feast scene, that many wouldn't pick up on. The unruly child singing the song with naughty lyrics (cute and funny), the vicar walking around shaking his money bag hoping for donations, and the best part of that scene...
A dark handsome young man with a do-rag and pullover sweater is shouting to his lady that she stop her whining and come down and join the feast! It's a wonderful little scene the way he has to coax her down, then she's glad she came.
However, Fellini is not one to leave it up to the subtleties. The scene of the fashion show for Catholic clergy is unmatched in it's genius. NOTE THE OBVIOUS SWIRLING, SHINING SUN-DISK BEHIND THE POPE! The Pope comes out, resplendant in a shining golden garment, looking like the Sun King, and I must say...it took Fellini to figure that out!
Another highlite for me is the scene in the vaudeville style theatre. There is just something disturbing about the whole scene that I cannot put my finger on. At the same time it's wildly entertaining, especially the antics of one particular teenager with a certain big fella. Whack! What has always been the most disturbing for some reason is the act that comes from the back of the theatre. Three men dressed in black coats and tails, faces painted white, black derby hats, holding long white candles come out and do a few numbers. They are trippy, they are freaky, and I can't figure out why, but they are downright scary to behold. For the life of my I can't say why.
In writing this review I have jumped around, stopping my typing to insert something out of order, just like Fellini. Not just like Fellini, that's impossible. I must say though, he has warped my sense of perception in films for the better.
I'm not going to ruin it for you. You simply must see the movie."