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Roma

Directed by Federico Fellini.
With Britta Barnes, Peter Gonzales Falcon, Fiona Florence.
Italy/France, 1972, DCP, color, 128 min.
Italian, German, English, French, Latin and Spanish with English subtitles.
DCP source: Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cineteca Nazionale

Fellini himself makes a rare cameo in this 1972 extravaganza to issue the following advice to a group of young activists: “I think a person should be true to his own nature.” The line doubles as a statement of purpose for Roma, a time-spanning symphony for the Eternal City that makes few concessions to objective reality or comprehensiveness, unfolding instead as a pinwheel spin of the director’s memories, obsessions and fascinations toward the metropolitan hub he daydreamed about as a boy and eventually moved to as a young man. That same wide-eyed striver is the protagonist of Roma, played by Peter Gonzales Falcon in his youth and, though largely offscreen, the real Fellini as the older filmmaker who has decided to document the changing face of an ancient town that was then being galvanized by modernity. This thin metafictional conceit allows for numerous digressions, as Fellini’s craning and zooming camera lovingly surveys cabaret performances, community feasts and high and low brothels in the Mussolini era, and traffic jams, police altercations and underground archaeology projects in the present day. It all climaxes in the elaborate staging of a fashion show at the Vatican, a gaudy large-scale spectacle unbelievably pulled together on a Cinecittà backlot.

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