Frederico Fellini’s Roma (1972) is the kind of film that makes you want to travel to the magnificent city of Rome immediately and just sit and people-watch. Both a criticism and a celebration of Rome and its people, Roma‘s synopsis is as follows:
A fluid, unconnected and sometimes chaotic procession of scenes detailing the various people and events of life in Italy’s capital. (source)
Because I’m running out of time until it’s the end of the year and I really want to finish my Blindspot series before 2017 happens, here is a selection of my thoughts on Roma.
- Roma isn’t just a film – it’s a whirlwind.
- Although the synopsis above seems to describe the film as without plot, it does have a loose structure – first, a semi-autobiographical story of when Fellini first visited Rome as a young man, and second, a story of Fellini in his later years making a film about the city.
- However, these two parts do seem to overlap and intertwine with one another and with the other stories of the city, so at first glance the film does seem to be a bit of a chaotic mish-mash of Roman quirkiness.
- Directed in Fellini’s classic lively and charismatic style, Roma is not as much of a love letter to the city as it is a celebration of both its people and its society’s shortcomings.
- The interesting thing is that there’s a nice debate in the middle as to how Fellini should show Rome – should he romanticise the city, or show it as it really is, with all its prostitutes, perverts, and insane traffic jams? It seems like Fellini has very much chosen to focus on the latter.
- Roma is filled with some wonderful cynicism, its most notable cynical moment being the seeming comparison made between a meat market of sex workers being chosen by their clients, and a fashion show for the Pope to choose his newest robes. It’s crazy.
- In fact, the Papal fashion show was probably one of my favourite scenes. Who else but Fellini could wonder about light-up Papal robes, or Cardinals on rollerskates. It’s a fantastic criticism of the Catholic church and its obsession with sartorial tradition, or it could even be a criticism of the Pope-worship of the Catholic church, depending on your own personal leanings.
- Another notable moment is where some city excavators happen upon a Roman ruin underneath the city – a beautiful, fascinating and heartbreaking scene.
- Roma makes me want to watch more and more of Fellini’s films. He’s so great.
Watch the trailer here.