Fellini's Roma (1972) from Tuna

Roma (1972), Fellini's autobiographical tribute to Rome, was released on region 1 DVD this week.
It has no plot, but is rather a non-linear impressionist portrait of the eternal city, focusing on pre WW11, and early 1970. Considered a masterpiece, I can't help but wonder if part of that reputation is due to the fact that Fellini wrote and directed it. Maltin awards 3 stars, and IMDB readers have it at near classic status at 7.7/10.


see the main commentary

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it. Some scenes were very enjoyable, my personal favorite being an Ecclesiastical fashion show featuring nuns habits, traveling suits for the well-dressed priest, and even Papal vestments. There was also a lengthy tribute to Roman bordellos, in which several anonymous women were topless. 

The non-linear approach to time, with present, past and fantasy all strung together, makes it a little hard to follow, but, since there is no plot, it probably doesn't matter. For Fellini fans, of course, this is a must own. For the general art house crowd, it is a must see. Others probably won't find much to enjoy about it. 

DVD info from Amazon.

The DVD is dark and very grainy, and devoid of special features. Letterboxed

Scoop's notes.

I agree with Tuna in that there's no reason to call this a masterpiece unless you are swayed by the Fellini name on the marquee, but if you enjoy pure discrete imagery, surrealism, the carnival, or satirical set pieces, you may really enjoy it. The Papal fashion show is hilarious, in a certain distorted way. There is an often-anthologized scene in which a modern film crew finds an ancient Roman catacomb and is horrified to discover that their very presence has caused the priceless murals to disintegrate.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.7 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Definitely a genre art film, I doubt that it has a lot of crossover appeal, and will give it a C+

Return to the Movie House home page