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  • Writer's pictureVinnie Favale

Fellini And The Catholic Church

Opening shot from "La Dolce Vita"[1960] with Jesus Christ statue.

Fellini and the Catholic Church have an interesting history together. The Vatican condemned "La Dolce Vita" when it was released 1960 (it was banned entirely in Spain until 1978.) It might have had something to do with the seedy side of Rome that Fellini captured so perfectly in his own special way. I'm sure opening the film with a statue of Jesus Christ dangling from a helicopter while beautiful, sunbathing Italian women watch in amazement didn't help. Or maybe it was the Vatican Fashion Show sequence from "Roma" which mocked the sartorial splendor of the Catholic Church decades before Madonna Ciccone.

The Vatican Fashion Show from Roma [1972]

Wait, must have been this poster for "Roma";

But it's incredible how sometimes debauchery plus time can equal forgiveness. When Fellini passed away in 1993, his wake was open to the public and it was held at at Cinecitta in Studio No. 5 where he filmed most of his movies (including recreating the the Via Veneto for "La Dolce Vita".) The funeral mass was celebrated by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a high Vatican prelate who has been a close friend of Fellini and his wife for many years.

'Fellini portrayed Italy and its contradictions in his films, and for this we must be grateful to him,' the cardinal said in his sermon.

And in 2013 no less than Pope Francis stated in an interview that his favorite film was "La Strada".

For a deeper dive into Fellini's relationship with the church there are two interesting articles to read. The Church Times story opens with a great Fellini quote;

“THE Church never gave me joy. . . The Church frightens me to death. I am a Christian. I believe in the necessity of God. Because I believe in man. And God is the love of man.”

There's also an interesting blogpost titled "Fellini's Religiosity" with some good insights.

Let us pray.

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