Saturday, February 4, 2017

#591: Roma

1972, TSPDT Rank #566

Roma is usually cast as a minor entry in Federico Fellini's filmography, but it is a highly original film nevertheless, and one which can be seen as a cross-section of the elements which Fellini would return to repeatedly throughout the second half of his career. It sits comfortably between Satyricon and Amarcord, arguably the twin pillars of Fellini's latter-day filmography, combining the vivid surrealism and fascination with the distant past seen in Satyricon with the nostalgic and semi-autobiographic evocations of WWII-era Italy which would be explored further in Amarcord. Fellini alternates between these two points of focus throughout the film, while also experimenting with a forward-looking, semi-documentary approach which combines elements of classic city-symphony films like Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera with the cinema-verite style popular at the time of the film's production. However, some sections of the film fail to fit into either of these three categories - such as the famous "ecclesiastical fashion show" sequence, which evades easy description or categorization, while also providing one of the most vivid examples of the term "Fellini-esque" imaginable. This combination of diverse styles and approaches serves to make Roma a truly one-of-a-kind film - one which, out of all Fellini's films, might provide the most wide-ranging view into his singular philosophy and approach to filmmaking.

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