La Dolce Vita

Nino Rota

" Another interesting part of the score - if not the most essential of all – is the music the composer wrote for the famous Trevi Fountain scene featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life, 1960) is an Italian film that displays the glitter and glamour of (night) life in Rome, full of great joy, humour, and surrealism. Yet, the film thrives on a theme of duality; the la dolce vita feel is contrasted by an undercurrent of emptiness and sadness. Years ago, the film felt like a hugely extended exercise in misery, unwilling to fully embrace the duality, but also not enjoying the hilarious and surreal sequences of the film. The film was one of the templates for the emptiness and enjoyment of life, which to this day remains relevant, even though it is almost as old as the journey to Canterbury, which I suspect was what made me not care for the film at first. Now, I fully embrace the surrealism, selfishness, absurdity, sadness and sweetness of life.

Nino Rota's music embodies an incredibly diverse mixture of different instruments and styles, from orchestral, lounge, jazz, pop, rock, circus music, dance, classical, and Roman cultural references. It is remarkable how Rota intertwined the original score with adaptations of the source music seamlessly for the film, a new practice the composer would repeat in later collaborations with Fellini, but never so astoundingly as for La Dolce Vita. While some music is specifically suited to the overall feel of the (night)life, going from conversations with people, or interaction during a dance, an orgy, a performance with the ever luring masquerade of the empty undercurrent, there's also actual dramatic intent with his music. In undergoing the film, there is the artificial film language; great directing, an incredible mise-en-scène, memorable cinematography, the mind-boggling set pieces, outstanding acting, and much more; all strengthened by Rota's music.

Another interesting part of the score - if not the most essential of all - is the music the composer wrote for the famous Trevi Fountain scene featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg. It's a symbolic scene of a man giving in to one of the virtues of life, as he finds the woman attractively splashing into the water, too irresistible; a perfect capture of the duality theme of the film. The music begins with a gloomy electric organ - a vital, out of his world instrument throughout the score - and a gently plucked harp, conveying a surreal and fairy tale feeling, as they walk towards the fountain, stops as Ekberg is in the water, only to be reprised near the end, segueing into Mastroianni sleeping in his car, being photographed by paparazzi. The new 2018 2CD release by Quartet reveals two alternative cues, which uphold the gloomy electric organ, but replaces the wonderfully imaginative harp with a disconcerting, though slightly curious woodwind, both reprisals of another cue earlier in the score. Presumably, they were spotted at the exact same moments as the two cues that ended up in the film, but the intent of the music is different, and it especially misses out on the imagery feel, which is much stronger in communicating the duality in the film.

La Dolce Vita is a classic Nino Rota score, one of the many memorable collaborations with Federico Fellini. At times, I love the simplicity and affection of the composer's music in their films, but besides the duality, which again is the most important of all, there is much music that doesn't resonate with me. Looking at Rota's career, the circus music, the light touches, the nostalgia, and so much more, are usually good trademarks, but again, they do not always connect to me on a personal level, both in and outside the context. La Dolce Vita is not the kind of film that wholeheartedly elevates me, but there's much merit. Amarcord and Otto e mezzo (81⁄2) are two scores with which I have a strong emotional connection.

Tracklist (CAM 1991)
1. Titoli Di Testa (05:08) Canzonetta - Notturno II° - Cadillac
2. La Dolce Vita (05:41) Arivederci Roma / Carcalla's - La Bersagliera
3. La Dolce Vita (01:35) In Via Veneto
4. Patricia (03:45) Caneonetta - Entrada Dei Gladiatori / Parlami Di Me
5. Lola (Yes Sir, That's My Baby) (04:22) Parlami Di Me / Stormy Weather
6. Via Veneto E I Nobili (01:22)
7. Blues (05:42) La Dolce Vita Dei Nobili
8. Notturno O Mattutino (01:30)
9. La Dolce Vita (03:01) La Bella Malinconica
10. La Dolce Vita Nella Villa Di Fregene (06:21)
11. La Dolce Vita (02:58) Finale

Total Duration: 00:41:25

Tracklist (Quartet records, 2017)

Disc 1

1. Titoli (Film Version) (01:59)
2. La Dolce Vita (Elicotero) (01:09)
3. La Dolce Vita (Club Cinese) (03:04)
4. Ma-Ma (00:58)
5. La Dolce Vita (Via Veneto) (00:42)
6. La Dolce Vita (Piazza del Popolo) (01:42)
7. La Dolce Vita (Cadillac) (01:43)
8. La Dolce Vita (Cadillac canzonetta) (01:41)
9. La Dolce Vita (Da aeroporto a Via Appia) (00:39)
10. La Dolce Vita (Salita San Pietro) (01:50)
11. Arrivederci Roma (02:03)
12. La Dolce Vita (Caracalla) (02:44)
13. La Dolce Vita (Coda Caracalla) (01:01)
14. La Dolce Vita (La Dolce Vita a Caracalla) (03:08)
15. La Dolce Vita (Mamma Sergio) (02:12)
16. La Dolce Vita (Gattino) (01:05)
17. La Dolce Vita (Fontana Trevi) (01:03)
18. La Dolce Vita (Via Veneto #2) (01:04)
19. La Dolce Vita (Chiesa) (01:09)
20. Pity Pity (01:08)
21. La Dolce Vita (Salone Orientale #1) (01:44)
22. La Dolce Vita (Salone Orientale #2) (02:31)
23. Marcia dei Gladiatori (02:05)
24. Lola (Yes Sir That’s My Baby) (02:26)
25. La Dolce Vita (Night Club) (03:12)
26. La Dolce Vita (Patricia / Night Club #2) (02:20)
27. La Dolce Vita (Valzer Stormy Weather) (02:30)
28. La Dolce Vita (Via Veneto dei nobili) (01:47)
29. La Dolce Vita (La dolce vita dei nobili) (05:43)
30. La Dolce Vita (Scena villa) (01:11)
31. La Dolce Vita (Mattutino #1) (01:02)
32. La Dolce Vita (Mattutino #2) (00:32)
33. La Dolce Vita (Orgia) (00:48)
34. Jingle Bells (02:32)
35. La Dolce Vita (Orgia Can-Can) (01:18)
36. Patricia (04:40)
37. La Dolce Vita (Orgia #2) (01:41)
38. La Dolce Vita (Orgia #3 / Why Wait) (03:43)
39. La Dolce Vita (Orgia #4) (02:40)
40. La Dolce Vita (Finale) (00:27)

Total Disc Time (The Complete Film Score): 77:15

Disc 2

1. Titoli di testa Canzonetta Notturno II Cadillac (05:13)
2. La Dolce Vita Caracalla’s La Bersaguera (05:46)
3. La Dolce Vita In Via Veneto (01:38)
4. La Dolce Vita Patricia Canzonetta Marcia dei gladiatori Valzer (Parlame di me) (03:48)
5. Lola (Yes Sir That’s My Baby) Valzer (Parlame di me) Stormy Weather (04:29)
6. Via Veneto e i nobili (01:27)
7. Blues / La dolce vita dei nobili (05:43)
8. Notturno e mattutino (01:35)
9. La Dolce Vita / La bella malinconica (03:08)
10. La dolce vita nella villa di Fregene Can Can Jingle Bells Blues (La Dolce Vita) Why Wait (06:18)
11. La Dolce Vita (Finale) (03:03)

Total Time (The 1960 Soundtrack Album): 41:20
12. Titoli (Alternate #1) (02:12)
13. La Dolce Vita (Cadillac / Canzonetta) (Alternate) (01:46)
14. La Dolce Vita (Piazza del Popolo) (Alternate) (01:53)
15. Titoli (Alternate #2) (02:01)
16. La Dolce Vita (Gattino) (Alternate #1) (00:53)
17. La Dolce Vita (Gattino) (Alternate #2) (01:01)
18. La Dolce Vita (Salone Orientale #1) (Alternate) (02:13)
19. Arrivederci Roma (Alternate) (02:04)
20. La Dolce Vita (Fontana di Trevi) (Alternate #1) (00:47)
21. La Dolce Vita (Fontana di Trevi) (Alternate #2) (01:05)
22. La Dolce Vita (Danza al Club Cinese) (00:59)
23. La Dolce Vita (Fisa) (00:20)
24. La Dolce Vita (La dolce vita dei nobili) (Alternate) (05:45)
25. La Dolce Vita (Orgia #3 / Why Wait) (Alternate) (03:44)
26. La Dolce Vita (Notturno) (00:45)
27. Titoli (Alternate #3) (02:02)
28. La Dolce Vita (Chiesa) (Alternate) (00:50)
29. Parlame di me (Vocal) (02:48)
30. La Dolce Vita (Vocal) (03:00)

Total Disc Time : 78:42

Total Duration: 02:35:12

(written 16-08-2022)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 2 votes - average 2.75/5)

Released by

CAM (regular release 1991)