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When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital

Posted August 09, 2010 to photo album "When in Rome: Movies from the Italian Capital"

As part of Movie City Rome, Nick Dawson takes a trip through cinema history and examines the different ways filmmakers have portrayed the Italian capital on the big screen.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Ben-Hur (1925)
Slide 3: Open City (1945)
Slide 4: The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Slide 5: Roman Holiday (1953)
Slide 6: La Dolce Vita (1960)
Slide 7: Accattone (1961)
Slide 8: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Slide 9: Caro Diario (1993)
Slide 10: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Slide 11: Facing Windows (2003)
Slide 6: La Dolce Vita (1960)

Slide 6: La Dolce Vita (1960)

Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita captures Rome at a moment when the Eternal City was embracing a new metropolitan modernity; the film opens with a helicopter flying over a Roman aqueduct, carrying a statue of Christ to the Vatican, but focuses on the decadence of the new generation of Roman residents. Fellini’s movie vividly depicts Rome and its nightlife, memorably capturing the romance between jaded journalist Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) and film star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg). “Rome is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world,” said A.O. Scott in a recent video piece on La Dolce Vita for the New York Times, “but it has never looked better than in the black-and-white compositions of cinematographer Otello Martelli.” The irony is that much of the Rome we see on screen was not the city itself, but detailed sets recreated in Cinecittà, Rome’s great movie studio. Even famous locations, such as the bustling Via Venteto and St. Peter’s Basilica, were seemingly cheaper or easier to fake than shoot for real. What was certainly not faked was the film’s iconic sequence in which Ekberg and Mastroianni wade into the Trevi Fountain: the scene was shot in the winter and Ekberg (a tough Swede) stood in the freezing water in her sopping dress without complaint, though apparently Mastroianni required a wetsuit under his suit to keep out the cold.