ⓘ Roma (1972 film)

Roma (1972 film)

ⓘ Roma (1972 film)

Roma, also known as Fellinis Roma, is a 1972 semi-autobiographical comedy-drama film depicting director Federico Fellinis move from his native Rimini to Rome as a youth. It is a homage to the city, shown in a series of loosely connected episodes set during both Romes past and present. The plot is minimal, and the only "character" to develop significantly is Rome herself. Peter Gonzales plays the young Fellini, and the film features mainly newcomers in the cast.


1. Plot

Federico Fellini recounts his youth in Rome. The film opens up with a long traffic jam to the city. Once there, scenes are shown depicting Rome during the Fascist regime in the 1930s as well as in the 1970s.

A young Fellini Gonzales moves into a vivacious guesthouse inhabited by unusual people including a Benito Mussolini lookalike and run by a sick obese woman. He visits 2 brothels - one being dilapitated and overcrowded and the other one more stylish and luxurious - and seemingly falls in love with a prostitute working in the latter one. Other attractions in Rome are shown, including a cheap vaudeville theatre, streets, tunnels, and an ancient catacomb with frescos that get ruined by fresh air soon after the excavators discover it.

The most famous scene depicts an elderly solitary noblewoman holding an extravagant liturgical fashion show for a Cardinal and other guests with priests and nuns parading in all kinds of bizarre costumes. The film eventually concludes with a group of young motorcyclists riding into the city and a melancholic shot of actress Anna Magnani, whom the film crew met in the street during shooting and who would die some months afterwards.


2. Alberto Sordis performance

During editing, a scene with Alberto Sordi was cut because it was considered too immoral and cruel. Sordi played a rich man sitting at a bar watching some poor kids playing ball. A poor man, blind, sick and lame, comes to cross the street, preventing the rich man from viewing the scene. Alberto Sordi, annoyed, begins shouting insults at the blind man: "Get out of the way, you ugly old man! Get out!".


3. Cast

  • Pia De Doses as Princess Domitilla
  • Fiona Florence as Dolores - young prostitute
  • Renato Giovannoli as Cardinal Ottaviani
  • Peter Gonzales as Federico Fellini, age 18
  • Gore Vidal as himself
  • Marcello Mastroianni as himself
  • Federico Fellini as himself
  • Alberto Sordi as himself
  • John Francis Lane as himself
  • Elliott Murphy as extra
  • Feodor Chaliapin, Jr. as actor playing Julius Caesar
  • Cassandra Peterson
  • Anna Magnani her final film role as herself
  • Dennis Christopher as The Hippie

4. Historical contrasts and modern alienation

Fellini repeatedly contrasts Roman life during wartime Fascist Italy with life in the early 1970s. The wartime scenes emphasize the congregation of neighbors in Romes public places, such as street restaurants, a variety show, and a bomb shelter. With the exception of hippies and a conversational scene with Fellini bemoaning the loss of Roman life with radical students, the analogous congregations of the 1970s are between automobiles and motorcycles. Fellini makes a comparison between the parade of prostitutes at wartime brothels and a fantasy runway fashion show featuring clerical garb and a papal audience.


5. Narrative devices

The plot such as it is centers on two journeys to Rome by the director. The first is as a young man in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The second is as the director of a film crew creating a movie about Rome. The film alternates between these two narratives.


6. Release

The film was screened at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival but wasnt entered into the main competition. The film was also selected as the Italian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards but was not accepted as a nominee. The film is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray through the Criterion Collection.

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