In the fountain, with Anita

20 jan

Besides Fellini´s “La Dolce Vita” (1960), what other Anita Ekberg movies have you seen?

I asked friends and none had seen any. Some cinephiles were able to mention “Intervista” (Fellini, 1987) where, anyway, the recently deceased Swedish actress appears as herself, old and fat, with nothing of her once astounding beauty.

And, however, Anita is one of the most worshipped divas of the cinema.


The truth is: to be a diva a single role may be enough.

And hers was that one, I mean, the big tits and hoarse voice sensual Sylvia, the gorgeous blonde who invites Marcello into the waters of the Fontana di Trevi, in Fellini´s 1960 masterpiece.

One funny thing was, some of my friends confessed not even “La dolce vita” they had seen, and, nonetheless, (they could not explain why), they seemed to remember the Roman fountain scene.

Actually, the fact can be explained. The cinema, or rather, cinephilia, is not necessarily made of entire movies, but also of single images or scenes that sometimes impose themselves as recurring intertexts. That which elsewhere I once called “beloved images”.

For instance, recently two movies showed the Fontana di Trevi scene, by the way, not just showed, but made it the core of their fictional universe. They both told the romantic adventure of this old lady who dreams of meeting her perfect valentine and with him travel to Rome, just to recreate the emblematic fountain scene – if possible, including the little white cat and the glass of milk which is served to it.

An Argentina production of 2005, the first movie is the original one; a Hollywood production of 2014, the second one is its remake, both with the same plot and title, although not with the same artistic quality: “Elsa & Fred”.

Not to mention that, a couple of decades ago, in “Intervista”, the very same scene had been (re)exhibited, when a real Mascello Mastroiani, along with the whole film stuff, visits Anita´s farm house, and there, in the sitting room, with a fellinian magic power, reproduces the Fontana di Trevi scene, on a white sheet used as screen.

Anita and Mastroiani in Fellini´s masterpiece.

Anita and Mastroiani in Fellini´s masterpiece.

The fact that moviegoers do not recall other Anita Ekberg movies is understandable.

Although she was in 63 movies, very few, besides “La dolce vita”, are worth mentioning, “War and peace” (king Vidor, 1956), where she has a supporting role, is almost an exception.

I myself could only remember her in “Boccacio 70”, a film in four episodes, and in that also episodical bittersweet comedy by Vittorio DeSica, “Seven times woman” (1970), in which, anyway, the repeated woman is not herself, but Shirley MacLaine.

Only in checking over her filmography could I identify some of the her movies I had seen in the past: two comedies by Frank Tashlin, with Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin, “Artists and models (1955) and “Hollywood or bust” (1956), and the film she was making when Fellini found her in Italy: “Sheba and the gladiator” (1959), you know, one of those void Italian epics which were so often produced at that time, leading nowhere…

But, who cares? Anita Ekberg is the eternal diva whom we shall forever worship.

In the fountain, with Anita.

In the fountain, with Anita.

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