After nearly three hours Fellini's relentlessly enigmatic, non-committal approach leaves you wishing for something more than poignant imagery and moody, self-obsessed characters. (Review of Original Release)
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The film was hugely successful and widely praised in its time, though it's really nothing more than the old C.B. De Mille formula of titillation and moralizing--Roman orgies and Christian martyrs--with only a fraction of De Mille's showmanship.
A profound film by a legendary director in the greatest period of his career.
A brilliantly conceived epic fable.
In one movie, at least, the ethical baseline (heisted, you could argue, from "Sweet Smell of Success") gave Fellini's roaming, cluttered mise-en-scène a chilling gravity he could never genuinely locate again.
In this one masterpiece, Federico Fellini achieved the ideal balance -- between social observation and unconscious imagery, between artistic discipline and freedom, and between the neo-realism of 1950s Italian cinema and the orgiastic flights of his later work.
The movie is made with boundless energy. Fellini stood here at the dividing point between the neorealism of his earlier films (like "La Strada") and the carnival visuals of his extravagant later ones ("Juliet of the Spirits," "Amarcord'').
Freshly viewed, the movie's melancholy seems to fit uncannily well in the moment we find ourselves now. In the film there are mentions of nuclear annihilation and worries that heedless lust and wanton partying could bring Rome a second fall.