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Film / Roma (1972)

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Roma is a 1972 film directed by Federico Fellini.

There isn't a story. It is, essentially, Fellini's ode to his adopted home town. The movie starts out with Fellini as a boy in the provinces, fascinated by Rome even before he ever went there. He finally does go there as a young man of nineteen, in 1939. Part of the film is a series of vignettes of Rome from the Fascist Italy era: a vaudeville show in 1943 is interrupted by a bombing raid, young Fellini goes to a brothel.

Interspersed with these segments are segments from modern day, early 1970s Rome, with Federico Fellini making a movie. The modern-day segments include shots of the then-recently completed ring road, hippies hanging out around the Trevi fountain, and a singularly bizarre fashion show.

Anna Magnani, legendary Italian actress, made her final film appearance in a cameo. Cassandra Peterson, who would later become famous as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, appears briefly as an extra.note 


No connection to Alfonso Cuarón's 2018 film Roma.


  • Anachronic Order: Starts with Fellini as a boy 1930-ish, then bounces back and forth between scenes of young Fellini in World War II-era Rome, and 1972 Rome.
  • Aside Glance: The 1972 portions of the film include many people glancing at the camera as Fellini's crew films scenes in Rome.
  • Auto Erotica: At the movie theater, the camera shows a stylish woman and Fellini identifies her as the wife of the local pharmacist. Apparently she cheats on her husband a lot, as the next shot shows her having sex with another man in a car. Then the next shot after that shows a long line of men all waiting to have sex with her.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: The Trope Maker, as Fellini goes to an Italian-language production of Julius Caesar and watches the scene where Caesar gets stabbed.
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  • Blowing a Raspberry: Some of the hecklers at the 1943 vaudeville performance do this.
  • The Cameo:
    • Anna Magnani in her final film appearance.
    • Gore Vidal, having dinner in an outdoor restaurant, talks for a bit about how Rome is such a great place for artists.
  • Creator Cameo: Apparently the 1972 film crew is supposed to be Fellini's, but we only see him once. He's filming a scene in a park when young people accost him and demand to know if his film will show an idealized Rome or if it will show the real Rome with all its problems.
  • Fanservice Extra: Topless hookers in the 1943 brothel scenes. Topless female hippies lounging around 1972 Rome.
  • Fashion Show: A deeply bizarre fashion show about new fashions for priests, cardinals, and nuns. One cardinal model is wearing an electric suit with lights that flash like a Vegas billboard. Two nun models are wearing ridiculous wimples with bird wings. The fashion show ends with a guy who's apparently supposed to be the Pope, on a golden throne with a golden sun behind him.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The scene with a low-rent 1940s brothel catering to sailors is followed by a scene of young Fellini going to a high-class brothel catering to rich folks. Fellini engages the services of a High Class Call Girl, then asks her out on a real date. (We never do find out if she accepted.)
  • Hong Kong Dub: As with every Fellini film, all the dialogue was looped in after filming, and sometimes it is very noticeable.
  • Inner Monologue: The elderly princess who hosts the deeply weird Fashion Show has an Inner Monologue where she muses about how her time has passed and how Rome was so much nicer in her day.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The last scene is a sequence of shots in which motorcyclists zip around Rome, passing by several of the city's most memorable landmarks. The final shot has the film fade to black as the motorcyclists zoom off down the road to parts unknown.
  • The Place: Rome, Federico Fellini's adopted hometown.
  • Shout-Out: There's a picture of Greta Garbo outside the movie theater where young Fellini goes to see a film.
  • Vaudeville: Young Fellini goes to a 1943 vaudeville show that includes a terrible comedian, a chanteuse, a Fred Astaire imitator, and three Charlie Chaplin imitators who sing a song together.
  • Visual Title Drop: The very first shot of the movie is a mileage marker in Fellini's home town of Rimini, marking how far it is to Rome.
  • We Interrupt This Program: A live version. The vaudeville sequence is dated to July 1943 when a guy interrupts the vaudeville show to deliver a bulletin about the Allied landing in Sicily. (Apparently the Germans and Italians wrecked the Allied offensive and everything is going great.)
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Did the High-Class Call Girl in 1940s Rome accept Fellini's invitation to a date? We'll never know.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: When young Fellini moves to Rome in 1939, one of the guests in the boarding house where he gets a room is an actor named Marco Landi, who says Fellini must surely recognize him, and tells Fellini the pictures he's appeared in.