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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's mixture of strange & contradicting images of Roma
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...
Published on July 19, 2003 by Daniel J. Hamlow

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
The 1972 film Roma, by Federico Fellini, lies somewhere between his 1968 film Satyricon and his 1973 film Amarcord, not only chronologically, but creatively (The Clowns, from 1970, is a minor work, by comparison). It is a picaresque film, as both the other films are, and has some of the heightened imagery and poesy of Satyricon, while possessing Amarcord's humor and jabs...
Published on September 17, 2008 by Cosmoetica


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's mixture of strange & contradicting images of Roma, July 19, 2003
This review is from: Fellini's Roma [VHS] (VHS Tape)
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. The term "carnival-of-life" has been used to describe Fellini's movies, and this is very true here.
Fellini's film unit visually "describe[s] the entry into thecity via the ring of motorways that surrounds her [Rome] like a Saturn of rings." The scene of the modern super highway speaks of the tragic toll industrialization has taken, and the raining deluge adds to the misery. Hitchhikers, prostitutes, cement trucks, even a tank and a guy pushing a cart, highway patrol, communist student protesters, insane bumper to bumper traffic, and the most tragic scene, an overturned and burning truck-trailer, dead cows littering the road, firefighters fighting the blaze. Yet history does rear its head. Plans to make a Roman subway is halted and delayed because of the unpredictable Roman subsoil. "Every 100 yards, you come across something of historical importance." The workers have to learn speleology and archaeology as a result. And when will the subway be done? Who knows?
At a wartime variety show, an intellectual-looking member of the audience remarks, "We are seeing basic humanity here. Vaudeville is the arena of mass aggressiveness, a combination circus and brothel." Given the rowdiness of certain coarse members of the audience who heckle at comics or whistle at the girls, that's true enough. But might that not also be a commentary on Rome and maybe any large city?
There's also the pleasant enough handsome Peter Gonzalez portraying the young Fellini and we see the look of 1930's Rome through his eyes. Interesting images and characters underpoint any Fellini film and this is no different. The huge hulk of a man at the theatre who has a wet rag thrown at his face, a religious fashion show that becomes garish, and the various prostitutes at the brothel are just some of them. Interesting commentary on brothels and churches: "an invitation to sin, one that could be confessed to the next day."
So what is Rome, in the end? A city that has died and been resurrected so many times, that it's fitting to witness the coming end of civilization from there as Gore Vidal says? The vestal virgin and she-wolf, an aristocrat and tramp, a somber buffoon? The unflattering latter is given to actress Anna Magnani, whom Fellini calls the living symbol of Rome--(she died a year after this brief appearance). In the end, I'd say all these things and more.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dreamy Fellini journey, June 16, 2001
By 
MoE "MoE" (Winslow, AZ USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical film, the very best of Fellini!, December 9, 1999
This review is from: Fellini's Roma [VHS] (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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, colorful and entertaining., November 22, 2009
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fellini's scenic trip through Rome......, June 23, 2007
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (DVD)
For those of you unfamiliar with the works of the late, great Italian director, Federico Fellini, ROMA is one of those films that gives you a small view of the pacing and style of his filmmaking. It is at once gaudy, bawdy, scenic, lovely and horrifying. Sometimes these feelings are simultaneous and other times they are sequential. For me, Roma felt like a series of animated postcards, taking a glimpse at "contemporary" Rome (the Rome of the 1970s, when this film was shot) in contrast with the Rome of decades before (the age of El Deuce and the height of Fascist rule). We see boisterous scenes from street life, a "typical" evening in an outdoor restaurant, shots comparing the "free love" attitude of the late 1960s and early 1970s with brothels of the 1930s, and just incidental shots of a colorful array of characters interacting with each other. Some of the venues include a burlesque theater, movie house and even a cathedral, where the cardinal pays a visit and stays for a one-of-a-kind fashion show, featuring the latest styles for priests and nuns (you just have to see the habits for yourself, to believe that they exist on film. I am thinking Flying Nun meets Flying Squirrel.).

I was really intrigued by Fellini's use of spontaneity, incidental connectedness with his subjects, and backhanded humor. For me, the narration at the beginning made the film feel like we were watching it from the unseen "third person" that often tells a story from the perspective of a fly on the wall. Our narrator makes a brief on screen appearance, but, otherwise, his narration his minimal throughout the course of the story. That really opens up the atmosphere of the film and allows us to really have our own experience with the visceral animated portrait we are presented with. It ends as suddenly as it starts, and you feel as though you have just went on the strangest journey to the "eternal city," except you aren't sure what kind of acid trip you went on to get there! But, however strong the drug concoction, it is ultimately a beautiful and interchangeably odd ride.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If there is anything to be called a masterpiece, this is it., October 21, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Fellini's Roma [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Watching this movie is like walking in a museum, reading a dozen of amazing novels, being in a theater, travelling to Rome, in space and time. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun and mystery, as life is itself. Also, movie in a movie has rarely been done so well. And finally, Roma makes you wander if you really need to spend $100mln to create a visual feast. Few hints: watch it in a company of friends, make it a cinema experience (watch it in its entiriety), organise good sound system and big screen, and don't do it too late so you've got time to discuss it with friends. P.S. let me know if it worked.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More real than real, April 6, 2004
By 
D. McClure "Magnum Opus" (Wilmington, DE United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (DVD)
In watching this film, especially the parts shot at 'home' in the apartment, one gets that alien feeling as if showing embarassing home movies to a stranger. There is an unapologetic "this is life, have some wine and pasta and shut up you mouth" feel to parts of this movie that I wouldn't change! Having been raised mostly by an Italian family, I noticed certain subtle things about the people depicted, especially in the big feast scene, that many wouldn't pick up on. The unruly child singing the song with naughty lyrics (cute and funny), the vicar walking around shaking his money bag hoping for donations, and the best part of that scene...
A dark handsome young man with a do-rag and pullover sweater is shouting to his lady that she stop her whining and come down and join the feast! It's a wonderful little scene the way he has to coax her down, then she's glad she came.
However, Fellini is not one to leave it up to the subtleties. The scene of the fashion show for Catholic clergy is unmatched in it's genius. NOTE THE OBVIOUS SWIRLING, SHINING SUN-DISK BEHIND THE POPE! The Pope comes out, resplendant in a shining golden garment, looking like the Sun King, and I must say...it took Fellini to figure that out!
Another highlite for me is the scene in the vaudeville style theatre. There is just something disturbing about the whole scene that I cannot put my finger on. At the same time it's wildly entertaining, especially the antics of one particular teenager with a certain big fella. Whack! What has always been the most disturbing for some reason is the act that comes from the back of the theatre. Three men dressed in black coats and tails, faces painted white, black derby hats, holding long white candles come out and do a few numbers. They are trippy, they are freaky, and I can't figure out why, but they are downright scary to behold. For the life of my I can't say why.
In writing this review I have jumped around, stopping my typing to insert something out of order, just like Fellini. Not just like Fellini, that's impossible. I must say though, he has warped my sense of perception in films for the better.
I'm not going to ruin it for you. You simply must see the movie.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rome out of a dream, May 16, 2001
By 
Shimon "shimondi" (Eastchester, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (DVD)
First, the worst. The sound is HORRIBLE. Not because of any master-to-DVD transfer problems but because all the sound was post-synchronized in the original production. This means that the dialog seldom lines up with the actor(s) and it always has an ambience that has nothing to do with the scene. That was a very common characteristic of Italian movies at that time.
As annoying as the sound is, so are the visuals fascinating. Very few directors have the imagination that Fellini had and there are many scenes which convey his trademark sense of absurdity and surrealism. And probably no other director ever combined satire with a love of his subjects so powerfully.
If you buy this DVD because you remembered the movie fondly from 25 or 30 years ago, be warned that it often comes across as very dated. But the beauty of "Roma" is that you can jump around without disturbing any continuity because it's really a collection of (long) vignettes. And most likely some of them will be better remembered than others.
If you love Fellini's work, none of what you see will surprise you. If you're not familiar with it, this is as exemplary of Fellini's work as you can get and you'll soon realize that no one makes movies like this anymore.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper, April 28, 2001
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (DVD)
I love latching onto a DVD that's worth keeping - and that means worth repeated watchings. ROMA fits the bill.
First, know that it's a very good transfer: the film looks bright and new and brilliantly colored and the sound is clear. "Widescreen" here means only slight "letterboxing", and the subs are easy to read.
For content, ROMA is an Italophile's treasure, with a mix of a lot of earthy realism (as real as you'll get from Fellini) and a little romantic prettiness. There are both '70s counterculture and '40s fascism on view, and enough masterful filmwork to fill the eyes and ears. Everyone will have a favorite sequence: the vaudeville, yes! the visitor, si! and the world's longest boom-and-truck sequence ... fabulous.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, September 17, 2008
This review is from: Fellini's Roma (DVD)
The 1972 film Roma, by Federico Fellini, lies somewhere between his 1968 film Satyricon and his 1973 film Amarcord, not only chronologically, but creatively (The Clowns, from 1970, is a minor work, by comparison). It is a picaresque film, as both the other films are, and has some of the heightened imagery and poesy of Satyricon, while possessing Amarcord's humor and jabs at Fellini's Fascist era youth. That said, it is not as good a film as the two films that sandwich it for the very reason that it sits on that fence the two other films eschew. Whereas Satyricon was a freestyle adaptation from an ancient Roman work of art, with recurring characters in its vignettes, Roma is more of a travelogue crossed with memory, and the only constant within it is the city of Rome. The film was written by Fellini and Bernardino Zapponi, who collaborated on Satyricon, and, like that film, it is a visual orgy, filled with color and spectacle.
The two hour film is divided into a series of hallucinogenic vignettes admixed with golden memories that recount Roman history, Fellini's past, and the present of the city. These narrative streams and themes bounce back and forth, as Fellini tries to embody the very concept of Rome as `The Eternal City' of mythos (as opposed to the `city of illusions' that American writer Gore Vidal calls it, in a late cameo appearance proclaiming Apocalypticism as a vision).... Of course, the film would not be Fellinian without whores and midgets, and a slew of other oddities- human or not. This parade of grotesques is not limited to the material, but also to the very habits of the Romans from all eras, such as a scene at an outdoor restaurant, where the lower classes practice vulgarianism unabashedly. The film also has a number of uncredited cameo appearances, aside from Fellini and Vidal- mostly by Italian filmic luminaries such as Anna Magnani, Marcello Mastroianni, Feodor Chaliapin, and Alberto Sordi. The DVD, put out by MGM, is spare in the extreme, with the only bonus being the original theatrical trailer. The film is shown in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, and is a fine print- the colors really show what a great cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno was; especially in the shots taken at night, where the lighting and the colors literally blaze in their contrast to the pitch. The art direction and costuming by Danilo Donati also shines, even more so than in earlier Fellini color films- especially during the stellar Papal throne sequence, which seems almost the antithesis (or genial parody) of Francis Bacon's Satanically satiric painted portrait of Pope Innocent X- replete with a throne that seems to explode in color and neon. That said, the only one of the Fellini regular crew who seems to be doing subpar work is the normally fantastic Nino Rota, whose soundtrack is barely an influence on the images. Whether this is because the music is deliberately understated or because the imagery is so overwhelming is debatable, but it's still a notable absence.
Overall, Roma is a solid film with great moments, but one that has more value as a work of art that bears scrutiny for its reflection of its creator, rather than standing on its own artistic merits. It is not as daring as Satyricon, not as ribald nor tightly edited as Amarcord, not as probing of the human condition as Nights Of Cabiria, not as intellectualized as 8˝, nor is it as all-encompassing as La Dolce Vita. But, after all, how many films are? It is akin to dissing a drama of Eugene O'Neill because it falls short of The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, or A Long Day's Journey Into Night. If it is best as a baedeker to those greater films in the Fellini canon, so be it, for it is a sojourn worth the undertaking.
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Fellini's Roma
Fellini's Roma by Federico Fellini (DVD - 2001)
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