Roma (1972) | Federico Fellini’s surreal homage bedazzles on Blu-ray

Roma on Blu-ray

For the first time in the UK comes the Blu-ray release of Roma, one of the most colourful spectacles in the cinema of Federico Fellini. This homage to Rome brings the Eternal City to exuberant outrageous life through a surreal mix of fantasy, documentary and autobiography.

Fellini's Roma on Blu-ray

Of all of Fellini’s wildly expressive art movies, Roma is the one I return to time and again. Why? Because it operates on a purely subconscious level. It’s blend of memory and fantasy creates a surreal travelogue that haunts you forever. And the director’s ornately orchestrated set pieces are not only a sensorial delight; they also seem to get to the core of what it is to be Roman.

Part one, set in 1939 on the eve of war, shows a young Fellini discovering the city’s bustling life for the first time, and this is wonderfully illustrated in a stunning scene in which an entire neighbourhood dine on steaming plates of pasta on a crowded street during a heatwave.

Fellini's Roma on Blu-ray

In the second part, set in the 1970s, an older Fellini is filming his documentary, in which he is trying to discover the real Rome. And it’s with these segments that he wields his cinema magic: A film crew struggles in the rain to shoot footage of a new ring road as prostitutes ply their trade on the roadside; archaeologists discover a 2000-year-old Roman house in a subterranean tunnel only for the frescos to fade before their eyes in a matter of seconds; and a motorcycle gang take a night through the deserted city, their headlights creating ghostly shadows of the facades of Rome’s most iconic sites, before disappearing into the darkness.

Fellini's Roma on Blu-ray

But it’s the papal fashion show that is the film’s high point. This comic communion of cartoon camp and Catholic pageantry is cinematic genius, and Nino Rota’s funereal score only adds to the religious ecstasy that unfolds. This is satire in its shiniest ecclesiastical garb, while the film’s closing shots, as the motorcyclists head into the night, makes for a seemless link to Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning The Great Beauty which, in my mind, makes for an ideal companion piece to Fellini’s triumphant homage.

The Masters of Cinema Blu-ray release includes a 1080p HD transfer of the international cut, restored in 2010 from a 35mm negative, with options to watch the film with or without subtitles, with English audio, and with separate music and effects tracks. There’s also an interview with Italian cinema expert Chris Wagstaff, deleted scenes and two trailers.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on March 3, 2014, in Classic World Cinema, Must See, Must-See, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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