The last week I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts of film, time, life, and death. It all ties together with Federico Fellini’s famous film, La Dolce Vita and the death of famed bombshelter-era bombshell, Anita Ekberg this last weekend. I’m not a Fellini expert, my tastes in vintage movies tend to run more towards the Universal monster movies starring Lon Chaney Jr. Nor am I a devotee of Ekberg, but rather a more casual fan. And yet here I am, moved to write in effect about her death and her place in classic cinema.
So how did we get to this point, then? Going off my previously described affection for classic monsters, it should surprise no one that I also devour my share of horror and vampire novels. Most recently, I’ve become a fan of Kim Newman’s vast alternate history series, Anno Dracula. The first novel set naturally enough in Victorian London, using the Jack the Ripper murders as a setup for the horrorific goings on. The second novel takes us into World War One and deals with none other than the famous Bloody Red Baron of Germany. Finally, the third novel (Dracula Cha Cha Cha) takes us to 1959 Rome or more to the point, the Rome seen in films such as Roman Holiday or, you guessed it, La Dolce Vita. I received the novel as a Christmas present and recently started making my way through it.
The book pays a tremendous homage to Fellini’s film, with it’s own variation on Ekberg’s famous dip in the Trevi Fountain ending in coupious amounts of vampire grue. I was familiar enough with La Dolce Vita to pick up on the references. But I admit to my shame, that despite being a self-proclaimed film buff, I had somehow managed to never see the movie, possibly due to it’s lack of vampires or werewolves. Maybe I’m just inheritantly some weird form of a low-brow snob? Whatever the reason, wading through the novel finally pushed me to get over that hump. On January 9th, I ventured into the Vulcan Video and rented both the Bill Murray military comedy Stripes and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. I could almost feel Murray’s eyes gazing over the cover image of Ekberg as I left the store, DVD’s in hand.