La Dolce Vita appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. At the film’s start, a text disclaimer warned us that the source suffered from lots of damage, some of it “irreparable”.
That set me up to expect an ugly presentation. However, the opposite proved correct, as Vita offered a strong image.
Sharpness usually seemed positive throughout the movie. A few wider shots displayed a smidgen of softness, but not in a way that created real distractions. Instead, the film usually looked detailed and concise.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. No issues with digital noise reduction occurred, as the movie presented a natural layer of grain.
In terms of source flaws, some streaks appeared on the right part of the screen during the Cha-Cha Club sequence, but overall the film came free from issues.
Black levels looked deep and rich throughout Vita, as the movie presented a rich silver image that displayed fine contrast. Shadow detail also appeared clear and appropriately opaque with no signs of excessive thickness. Across the board, the Blu-ray presented the film in a satisfying manner.
The movie’s LPCM monaural soundtrack wasn’t quite as pleasing, but it seemed to be decent for its era. Like other Italian films of the era, all dialogue was looped, and this created occasional lip-synch issues.
The lines could also seem artificial and not especially natural. Those issues became inevitable, though, and overall clarity of the dialogue was acceptable.
Effects came across as acceptably clean and realistic. Also recorded after the original shoot, they remained a fairly subdued aspect of the mix, and they could be somewhat flat, but as a whole, they sounded fine for the era.
Music was even less involving, as the film’s score didn’t play a huge role. In any case, the music sounded a bit strident and thin, but it seemed to be reasonably clear. This ended up as a passable soundtrack for a movie from 1960.
A mix of extras appear here, and we launch with The Eye & The Beholder, a nine-minute, 32-second visual essay from filmmaker ::kogonada. The program looks at some aspects of the film’s techniques and gives us interpretation.
We find some useful points here. However, the presentation seems a bit annoying in terms of pretensions, so it loses some points for its style.
From 1965, we get an NBC news Interview with Director Federico Fellini. In this 30-minute, seven-second chat, journalist Irving R. Levine talks with Fellini about aspects of the filmmaker’s career.
Given its roots as a US network TV interview, I didn’t expect much, but this turns into a fairly effective overview. While it lacks tremendous insights, it becomes a nice glimpse at Fellini circa the mid-60s.
A 2014 Interview with Assistant Director Lina Wertmüller goes for seven minutes, 25 seconds and provides Wertmüller’s thoughts about working with Fellini and aspects of the Vita production. Wertmüller offers an engaging chat.
Another 2014 reel, an Interview with Film Scholar David Forgacs lasts 14 minutes, 29 seconds and discusses the movie’s themes and interpretation along with some aspects of the production. We find another informative piece here.
An Interview with Film Journalist Antonello Sarno also comes from 2014. During this 15-minute, 51-second piece, Sarno examines the movie’s Rome, themes/subtext, and aspects of the production. Sarno brings us a worthwhile reel.
We go back to 1963 for an audio-only Interview with Actor Marcello Mastroianni. It spans 47 minutes, 19 seconds and goes over aspects of his career, his work with Fellini, and Vita. Expect a high-quality discussion here.
A still collection called Felliniana occupies 49 frames and gives us a mix of promotional materials. It becomes a nice compilation.
Finally, we get a booklet. It includes photos, credits and an essay from film historian Gary Giddins. It finishes the package well.
As a piece of art, La Dolce Vita succeeds, as its appealing photography and appropriate sense of world-weariness combine to make its points. However, as a piece of entertainment. the film becomes tough to take, as its long running time can make it a chore. The Blu-ray brings very good picture along with adequate audio and a mix of bonus materials. This turns into a strong release for a well-constructed but often off-putting movie.