Rome exerted a powerful influence over Fellini throughout his life but rarely did he express his love for it more clearly than here. Mixing documentary-style reportage, self-contained dramatic set pieces and strange, impressionistic sequences, Roma explores the director’s youth, the process of film-making and the mysterious allure of The Eternal City.
Essentially a series of loosely-connected vignettes, the first section sees the young Fellini (Peter Gonzales Falcon) arriving in Rome. We visit a brothel, witness Fellini fall in love with a prostitute and listen to Gore Vidal’s bleak assessment of the city’s future. As with much of Fellini’s work it’s a free-form approach that values images for their own sake. Yet amid the purposefully imprecise sequences are some startling moments. The best of these sees a film crew uncovering a set of 2000-year-old frescos. Elsewhere is an extraordinary, fantastical fashion show in which solemn clergy model the latest Catholic vestments. Throughout, Fellini is acutely aware of the contradictions that make up his beloved Rome and though, in the strictest sense, the film goes nowhere, somehow it’s a fabulous journey.
‘one of his best works of this period’
‘a ravishing and innovative visual symphony’