Bitter Or Sweet?

Italian director Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is a searing, intelligent portrait of the moral chaos happening in Rome as its aristocracy and their institutions flounder in the wake of World War II. Told from the perspective of a womanizing journalist juggling multiple women, the legendary director’s most popular international film contains his most extravagant visuals and indelible filmmaking. La Dolce Vita offers up some of Italian cinema’s most iconic moments.

Starring European screen icons Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, and Yvonne Furneaux, Fellini’s richly rewarding classic undresses Rome’s high society in stunning fashion. A satire providing no easy answers, targets like the media and the Church are deconstructed in merciless style.

Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is a marvel of world cinema, one of his lasting contributions to the silver screen

The unforgettably cinematic visuals, combined with the screenplay’s razor-sharp dialogue and keen insight, produce undeniable screen magic. Quickly finding itself a cultural touchstone, La Dolce Vita won the prestigious Palme d’Or in 1960 and was nominated for several Academy Awards before being condemned by the Vatican. Even casual movies fans are likely somewhat familiar with the Italian film – Swedish actress Anita Ekberg was immortalized forever bathing in the Trevi Fountain. One of the most iconic scenes in European screen history, you might mistakenly think La Dolce Vita is a romantic tale.

The great Marcello Mastroianni is a handsome reporter working out of Rome, a real ladies’ man. Working for a gossip rag, Marcello grows envious of the decadent elites he covers like his friend Steiner (Alain Cuny). Tired of his hum-drum work as a journalist, Marcello dreams of a higher writing career. Intrigued by their immoral lifestyles, Marcello embraces their hedonism. Engaged to Emma, Marcello meets a string of women who tempt him from family life like gorgeous movie star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg).

A smartly layered critique of Italian society, Fellini’s masterful direction and sumptuous storytelling work in harmony with a perfect cast filled with household names. Marcello Mastroianni’s portrayal is one of the great screen efforts, a master class in acting nuance and intimacy. La Dolce Vita is seen through his character, a regular Italian slipping into the moral abyss like quicksand.

Fellini’s La Dolce Vita is a marvel of world cinema, one of his lasting contributions to the silver screen.

Video

In 2011, La Dolce Vita was restored in 4K by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in association with The Film Foundation, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Mediaset-Medusa, Paramount Pictures and Cinecittà Luce. Struck in Italy from the original black-and-white camera negative, that excellent transfer has served as the basis for every Blu-ray release since, including this fine release by Paramount and Criterion’s earlier discs.

The main feature runs 175 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in efficient and effective AVC. The crisp 2.35:1 black-and-white cinematography receives flawless grading with a rich contrast and nigh perfect shadow delineation. Overall detail from the 1080p video reflects a slightly older 4K scan, but remains impressive over a decade later.

The film elements have been graded against vintage prints and a prior restoration from the 1990s, a striking improvement for La Dolce Vita. Hints of deterioration are most noticeable in select scenes. You might be able to squeeze a little more detail and definition from the source with recent advancements but the grading is impeccable.

There are no surprises with Paramount’s disc. It’s the same careful restoration and remastering job seen on prior Blu-ray releases, a superb job worth owning. Let’s hope someone gets around to releasing La Dolce Vita on UHD one day.

Audio

The original 35MM theatrical optical sound has been lushly remastered in mono 2.0 Dolby TrueHD audio. The soundtrack is from composer Nino Rota (The Godfather), heard in astounding depth and presence. La Dolce Vita sounds wonderful with crisp extension and smooth fidelity. Excellent dynamics and soulful tonal balance make for perfect dialogue reproduction. It’s the same quality audio found on earlier Blu-ray releases.

Optional English, English SDH, and Italian subtitles play in a white font inside the scope presentation. An English dub in mono 2.0 Dolby Digital is included but not recommended.

Extras

La Dolce Vita is one of the few region-locked ‘A’ Blu-rays from Paramount. The disc is bare-bones aside from an introduction by Martin Scorsese. Those seeking myriad special features for the film should hunt down the out-of-print Criterion Blu-ray or their 2020 Essential Fellini box set.

Special Introduction By Martin Scorsese (02:30 in HD) – The esteemed Italian-American director recalls the splash La Dolce Vita made upon its American debut and praises Fellini’s gifts as a filmmaker.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided for review by the label. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page.

La Dolce Vita
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Fellini’s most popular international film is an intricate and rewarding satire packed with wondrous visuals, tackling Italy’s decaying high society and entrenched cultural values.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 57 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: