13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2014
Masters of Cinema continue to deliver a definitive and outstanding package of second tier Fellini titles. Following Fellini's CITY OF WOMEN (1980) and IL BIDONE (1955), their latest offering of ROMA (1972) will make a die-hard Fellini fans mouth drool, but realistically, the film itself might not convert any non-believers to the holy church of Fellini; though there are those who would place the film among Fellini's all-time best.
Better when viewed as an unconventional fantasy/quasi-documentary along the lines of I CLOWNS (1970), ROMA seems like a warm-up for Fellini's last great masterwork AMARCORD (1973). Just as AMARCORD was a film about rumination and the illusion of a particular place in time (Fellini's fictionalized home town of Rimini could just as easily stand in for the place anyone grew up), ROMA presents us with two views of the world-famous Italian capital.
The first view of the city belongs to the past, or Fellini's impressions of people, places and historical happenings. The second (and perhaps slightly more satisfying) view is that of the modern Rome, or at least modern at the time the film was originally released. Unlike AMARCORD, ROMA is not about characters. The titular city itself was intended to be the major (if not only) character. Unfortunately, that can make for a very tedious journey for viewers more accustomed to the usual tropes of cinematic storytelling.
ROMA feels quite loose and episodic; perhaps even Fellini's most stream of consciousness endeavor. The word "plotless" often gets applied to it, but I don't think the director was interested in plot at all when fashioning this particular journey. I think following the massive critical and cultural success of 8½ (1963), he was beginning to experiment more and more with alternative styles of filmmaking, and ROMA feels very much like an experiment from start to finish.
There are certain passages in the film that resonate strongly. A prolonged dinner scene at an outdoor restaurant and Fellini's own film crew deliriously entering the city are just two notable standouts. The famous fashion show satire of religion in the final act felt more like an homage to Buñuel than a surefire Fellini invention. Then there is the haunting yet strangely sleight sequence involving the disappearing frescoes. Like AMARCORD, there is a bit of vulgarity to the overall proceedings, but for the most part, the film is a love letter more than a travelogue.
For this viewer, Fellini has always worked best when applying his fantasy thematics to real people and real situations. ROMA is not exempt from the usual Fellini excesses, but it is short on the magic that makes his strongest films resonate (even his 37-minute segment in the 1968 portmanteau film SPIRITS OF THE DEAD seems more cultivated). The Blu-ray comes highly recommended (especially over the now obsolete MGM DVD) with some great essays and liner notes to help one navigate Fellini's oft-puzzling landscapes. A must for Fellini completists.
Anyone else might want to consult their travel agent before booking tickets.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2014
Rome is one of my Fellini's favourite films. If you're from Rome like I am, you will love it. If you are not, or you don't lnow Fellini so well, you might remain either shocked or extremely amazed by such a unique film. In just one shot (made by several episodes) you will get both the happy and carefree side and the dark side of the eternal city, in a way that no one has ever manage to tell. An amazing blu ray as well, greatly restored.