How Fellini made his modernist masterpiece

Secchiaroli-mastroianni-02Ian Thomson at The Spectator:

Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita was a box-office triumph in Italy in 1960. It made $1.5 million at the box office in three months — more than Gone With the Wind had. ‘It was the making of me,’ said Fellini. It was also the making of Marcello Mastroianni as the screen idol with a curiously impotent sex appeal. No other film captured so memorably the flashbulb glitz of Italy’s postwar ‘economic miracle’ and its consumer boom of Fiat 500s and Gaggia espresso machines. Unsurprisingly, the Vatican objected to the scene where Mastroianni makes love to the Swedish diva Anita Ekberg (who died earlier this year at the age of 83) in the waters of the Trevi fountain. Sixties Rome became a fantasy of the erotic ‘sweet life’ thanks in part to that scene.

After La Dolce Vita, Fellini found himself at a creative loss and hung a sign above his desk: ‘NOW WHAT?’ Sophia Loren’s movie-mogul husband, Carlo Ponti, persuaded him to contribute to Boccaccio ’70, a collection of lewd short films inspired by the medieval Decameron, but it was a critical failure. At the end of 1961, still in ‘creative limbo’, Fellini began work on , his eighth and a half film; it was to be a signpost in his development as a magician-director.

more here.