Review: ‘La Dolce Vita’

Finalmente! Il DVD di "La Dolce Vita" non vendera tante copie quanto "Star Wars," ma per gli amanti del cinema, quel DVD e inestimabile. In other words, "La Dolce Vita" ain't gonna outsell George Lucas, but this is an invaluable addition to any film lover's DVD collection.

Finalmente! Il DVD di “La Dolce Vita” non vendera tante copie quanto “Star Wars,” ma per gli amanti del cinema, quel DVD e inestimabile. In other words, “La Dolce Vita” ain’t gonna outsell George Lucas, but this is an invaluable addition to any film lover’s DVD collection.

“Vita” is making its DVD bow in a restored print, which is reason enough for Fellini-philes to rejoice; even better, the two-disc set includes an hour of added material.

It’s the last of his major works to hit DVD domestically (years after its release in many overseas territories), and Koch Lorber has done a good job of supplying extras for a pic whose filmmaker is no longer around.

The first disc features the film, with the option of Richard Schickel’s commentary, and a brief intro by director Alexander Payne, whose perceptive comments are undercut by the self-conscious artsiness (quick cuts to his cue cards, tilted camera angles, dull long shots of Payne and his interviewer, etc.) of the seg.

The key extras are on the second disc. Best of the five featurettes is the 34-minute “Fellini TV,” 22 brief films that were made for the 1986 “Ginger & Fred,” Fellini’s look at the television culture. This snippets were intended as inserts, depicting various TV fare like commercials, newscasts and faux musicvideos, but all wound up on the cutting-room floor.

Funniest of these is a pseudo-variety show with a hilarious impressionist and an armless man who plays piano. Eeriest are an oddly prescient segment with talkshow panelists analyzing an Islamic beheading and a couple of gameshows that foreshadows “Fear Factor.”

Occasionally, Fellini’s voice is heard as he directs the actors and feeds them lines. These short films collectively are a gem (though they raise the issue what DVD extras will be left when “Ginger & Fred” debuts on DVD).

Also included on the disc are a 22-minute “Remembering the Sweet Life,” featuring a 1987 interview with Anita Ekberg and a 1990 dialogue with Marcello Mastroianni. The latter’s seg is briefer, but more interesting. Mastroianni says he has special fondness for the film, beyond its success and artistic accomplishments, because he learned freedom as a man, not just as an actor. “I wasn’t afraid to show myself as I was … I felt at peace with myself.”

Briefer and slighter inclusions are a short interview with the Maestro about Rome and Cinecitta; a four-minute wordless “Cinecitta: The home of F. Fellini” (a look at props, clapboards and posters from his films); and a demonstration of the audio and visual restoration of this film.

The disc also features a selection of mildly interesting stills, good bios of the principals, terrific filmographies and a smart essay by Dennis Bartok in the booklet.

La Dolce Vita

$34.98. Street date, Sept. 21.


A Koch Lorber release of the Intl. Media Films 1960 film. Exec producer, Franco Magli; produced by Giuseppe Amato, Angelo Rizzoli. Directed by Federico Fellini. Written by Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli, Brunello Rondi.


With: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimee, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noel, Lex Barker, Nadia Gray.
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