Fellini’s towering achievement of 1960s cinema is a vast widescreen fresco of the glitterati of Rome in the post-war economic boom.
The episodic narrative follows seven nights and seven dawns in the life of gossip journalist Marcello, who hops from one bed to another, pursues Anita Ekberg’s surreally pneumatic film star, reports on bogus miracles, and copes with a visit from his father and a friend’s suicide. He is repelled, fascinated and seduced by the ‘sweet life’ of the title while nursing guilty aspirations for something higher.
The film caused a sensation on its initial release, angering censors and polarising opinion among critics and audiences, but is now rightly considered a masterpiece that’s had a profound influence on popular culture. It was La Dolce Vita, for instance, that coined the term ‘paparazzo’, which came to describe a certain type of relentless celebrity photographer.