This was the Rome of Fellini at the end of the Thirties. But Rome, today, how is it? In order to describe the Rome of the first half of the Seventies, Fellini starts with his cinematographic troupe from the motorway that leads the car drivers into town. Here only cars are to be found and the only human presences are those of prostitutes and homosexuals who offer themselves on the roadside. Nowadays the noise of the metropolitan traffic surpasses and submerges any other noise, while in the roads a single traffic jam forms and the honks combine in a single orchestra.Fellini directs a march along the street. It is a group of demonstrators of the left winger, holding banners on which it is to be read: NO POWER TO THE BOURGEOISIE. With a subtle irony, the director moves then to shoot the city in the park of Villa Borghese.
Here he meets some students who ask him to make a film of social denunciation, while an other interlocutor harangued him with these words: “But what sort of Rome is this? All crazy, everybody runs, they are always in a hurry, people have gone bad: this is why the Romans disappeared. Look around: only stinking longhaired hippies, students who do not want to study, transvestites, drug addicts of all kind, because now you don’t think that this movie will also go abroad and if you records the homosexuals, the prostitutes, the same bad images, how are you showing up our Rometta?”
Nevertheless Fellini believes that one must only talk about what one feels congenial. And what he likes to show is for instance, how the Baraconda theatre was thirty years ago, when it was not clear whether the show was made by the artists on the stage or by the audience in the stalls instead, among the public. Fellini on the other hand seems to confirm all through his movie that the truth is often much more theatrical than the show itself. And this is true above all during the fascist period, when cine-magazines seem to be an appendix to the cinematographic performance. Even in the defeat, the show goes on so. In the air-raid shelter, where an old man complains (“I was so happy where I was sleeping, and now because of that one…”), while another man sitting beside him reproaches him sternly: “… it is intolerable, such men should be ashamed: in the very moment when the country is all united in the foregone conviction of Victory, one should keep on hearing such defeatist speeches. Shame on you! Italy is fascist. The Duce! This is our only faith: we must win, and we will win!”
Returning to nowadays Rome with all its problems of viability, Fellini visits then with its troupe the metro yards and interviews the director of the works: “The underground of Rome is unpredictable, every mile there are important ruins and needless to say the works suffer from this situation: it is a very difficult contract. We simply wanted to solve a problem of city traffic, a shield shaped metro network, like in Monaco, in Dublin, but here the underground has eight layers we should be archaeologists, and speleologits at the same time. The first time that the necessity of making a metro in Rome was urged was in 1871, exactly one hundred years ago. The bureaucracy is even more unpredictable than the underground, the correspondence between us and the Roman Municipality fills up the entire route of the metro line…” An air pocket found by the caterpillars indicates that beyond the wall where we were digging a tunnel there is something. We proceed then making a hole through which some workers with a cinematographic troupe go down. They are faced with the remains of a splendid Roman house with mosaic floors and frescoes that upon contact with oxygen loose their colours, and practically crumble.
Roma, Federico Fellini part III >>