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Fellini's Roma

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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(Apr 10, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Acclaimed director Federico Fellini (Fellini's Satyricon, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2) brilliantly demonstrates why he is regarded as "the last of the great epic filmmakers," delivering "a thrilling personal memoir" (Newsweek) with this monumental and outlandish tribute to his beloved RomeThe Eternal City. This lavish autobiography, full of "lush fantasy sequences and monumental pageantry," (Los Angeles Times) begins with Fellini as a youngster living in the Italian countryside. In school he studies the eclectic but parochial history of ancient Rome and then is introduced as a young man to the real thingarriving in this strange new city on the outbreak of World War II. Here, through a series of "visually stunning" (Los Angeles Times) vignettes brimming with satire and spark, the filmmaker comes to grips with a "sprawling, boisterous, bursting-at-the-seams portrait of Rome" (Interview), reinterpreting with his inimitable style an Italian history full of "rich sensual imagery and extravagant perception" (Playboy).


Federico Fellini's 1972 ode to the city of Rome is far from a coherent narrative, but as a selection of images and sounds celebrating the famed Italian capital, it's dazzling and hugely enjoyable. Stylistically, it's a perfect bridge between the excesses of Satyricon and the nostalgia of Amarcord, and it showcases the true love that Fellini had for the Eternal City. Mixing autobiographical flashbacks with the travails of a present-day movie company making a film about the city (headed up by Fellini himself), Roma is an impressionistic tour de force, delivered via Fellini's unique cinematic vision. If you can't tolerate Fellini's larger-than-life approach, the sometimes-garish colors, or the circus atmosphere, you'll probably find Roma insufferable. But fans of Fellini will be in seventh heaven, especially during some of the wonderful set pieces--a music dance hall performance that's interrupted by bombing during World War II; a papal fashion show that's so surreal it must be seen to be believed; and a breathtaking sequence in which the film crew, tagging along with an archaeological dig, happens upon an ancient Roman catacomb and watches as the beautiful murals disintegrate before their eyes. Through it all, Fellini's passion for Rome (and moviemaking) shines through, especially in the film's climax, a dialogue-free sequence of motorcycles roaring through the city at night, a tour that ends at the magnificent Colosseum. At that marriage of past and present, Roma is about as perfect as cinema can get. --Mark Englehart

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Britta Barnes, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Fiona Florence, Pia De Doses
  • Directors: Federico Fellini
  • Writers: Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi
  • Producers: Turi Vasile
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2001
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059H9B
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,319 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fellini's Roma" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on July 19, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Opening narration: "The film you are about to see does not have a story in the traditional sense with a neat plot and characterss that you can follow from the beginning to the end. This pictures tells another kind of story--the story of a city." And Fellini gives a loving, sometimes poking playful commentary, at times tragic portrait of Rome from his time as a boy in Fascist Italy to 1972, when this film was made.
Rome. As in Romulus and Remus, the river Tiber, Julius Caesar, the Colisseum, it's a city steeped in history as a great empire that rose and fell, and the film starts with Caesar and the crossing of the Rubicon, and how he is still revered in school. There is even a statue of Caesar in his town: "apart from his usefulness to the pigeons, he was a common meeting place for the town."
Speaking of common meeting places, there are two scenes where that aspect is emphasized. Fellini recalls of the apartment block where he stayed for a while, agog at the various characters, crying children, scolding mothers, etc. Eating was taken seriously, and who ate? Kids, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, friends of friends... there must have been at least a hundred or so people at the dinner feast. As one woman tells him, "They say eat alone, the devil cheers. Eat with friends, the devil jeers." The table is rife with complaints, insults, greetings, even a little girl who sings an obscene song, eliciting laughter and scandalized looks. Similarly, there is the Festa De Noantri, the Festival Of Ourselves, where the Romans celebrate themselves, and the celebrants are either long-time residents or people who thought they were passing by and stayed forever.
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Format: DVD
Fellini's Roma is a delight for the senses. You do have to throw out your ideas of a conventional narrative, as the vignettes seems to go in a completely random order. Some ideas come back (the bordello, the outdoor restaurants, the apartment living), but they do change every time. Like a dream, or a David Lynch film (it looks like both Lynch and David Byrne watched this film about a million times before Lynch did Lost Highway or Byrne did True Stories), there is a hazy surrealism to the film. The colors and stories are interesting and exciting and the transformations that take place within them (the ride around Rome "like the ring around Saturn" turns from interesting (having never been there) to boring (you keep moving and moving and moving) to tragic, all in a few minutes) are all fascinating. Favorite vignettes include the subway ride to frescos and the old woman and cronies to the fashion show (yes, another thing Byrne stole, as he did the talent show). Is this the "real" Rome? Not a chance, but it does keep you occupied during the two hours. Gore Vidal makes a "end of the world" cameo, which is a strange touch, but fits in with the film.
This is definitely a film which needs to be seen more than once, and does fit in with other Fellini films, everything from Satyricon (the same loopy lack of narrative structure) to City of Women (everything from the fabulous bordello scenes to the boxing match). This is not the best Fellini (the two aforementioned films and 8 1/2 (release it on dvd dammit) and And the Ship Sailed On), but it is an interesting journey. Hippies and the colleseum are well worth the time. Four stars out of a possible five from me.
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Format: DVD
If you like looking at pictures, here is a fabulous movie for you. Every frame has a story, a character, a movement. Each one is a surreal painting, mysterious, unnerving and beautiful. A smirk, a leering maid, a huge landlady, a beggar with a leg in a cast, a greasy father, a man running with a handcart, a bus full of football fans, the sweaty unruly audience at the theater. Each one of these images holds more in a few seconds than most movies put into an hour. Or you can watch abstract compositions of mud on windshields, the golden radiance that surrounds the pope, the swirl of translucent fabric following a figure made out of skeletons, reflections of light on the plastic canopy over the camera, the shadows of welders on the walls of Renaissance buildings.

If all of this is a bit rich then you you can sit back and think about the ways in which Fellini is putting together not just a string of autobiographical sketches but also commenting on his own movie making. His camera, mounted on a boom, keeps coming back into the movie with questions about what can be seen, what this movie could be about be about; hippies, politics, the Roman Empire. Or should it be about the ways in which we destroy the past when we try to resurrect it? The air of the present destroys 2,000 year old frescoes.

This is a great movie, worth watching again and again.
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Format: VHS Tape
ROMA is a total treat of a movie. Rather than a continuous, plotted narative, it provides vignettes of "typical" Roman life. For my mind, it provides some of the strongest images ever filmed. Highlights include a totally irreverent ecclesiastical fashion show that is not to be missed, and a journey into an archaeological treasure beneath the streets of Rome. It features traffic, life during World War II, apartment life, eating, and delightful visits to the red light district.
This isn't a film for children. It IS a film you simply must see!
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