By Alessia Ricciardi
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Extra resources for After la dolce vita : a cultural prehistory of Berlusconi's Italy
Critics as diverse as P. Adams Sitney, Barbara Lewalski, and Anne Paolucci repeatedly have advanced readings of the film as an allegorical pastiche that chiefly alludes to Dante’s Commedia. According to this perspective, the film’s inaugural image of a statue of Christ being flown across Rome by helicopter encodes a dire, Catholic warning. 36 It might be said, however, that such readings of La dolce vita as a kind of Dantesque roman à clef run directly counter to the testimony of Fellini himself, who often repeated after the film opened that it was not his intention to provide a moralistic depiction of Italian society.
What has Sweetness prevailed instead is a formalist aesthetics that welcomes the dissolution of historical metanarratives as the prelude to an expanded freedom of irony, reappropriation, and ludic play. I maintain that Federico Fellini constitutes a distinguished exception to this intellectual panorama, not only because he refused through the end of his career to become a “cosmopolitan,” universalist filmmaker in the Hollywood mold but also because his last films register the crisis point in which Italian ultraconsumerism culminates.
25 Written in a collaboration among Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, and Ennio Flaiano, La dolce vita remains one of the most incisive analyses of the vulgarity and corruption of the Italian political economy of the 1960s. 26 We might say that if, as Cesare Zavattini asserts, neorealism developed as the art of the encounter, an art that places emphasis on the element of chance inherent in any random rencontre, Fellini by way of contrast perfects in La dolce vita a cinematic art of love at last sight. And he maintains this mode of perception throughout the film.
After la dolce vita : a cultural prehistory of Berlusconi's Italy by Alessia Ricciardi