100 years ago today, the great Federico Fellini was born in Rimini, Italy. It seems appropriate that today’s scene of the day should come from my favorite Fellini film, 1960’s La Dolce Vita.
In this scene, which occurs at the end of the film, jaded journalist Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) finds himself hung over on the beach, watching as a group of people pulls a dead sea serpent out of the ocean. The serpent appears to be a giant squid of some sort. Myself, I’ve always felt that it was the equivalent of the Biblical Leviathan and maybe the fish that swallowed Jonah. Regardless of the fish’s history, it’s now dead but, as Marcello points out, its eyes continue to stare. The people on the beach are less interested in what the fish is and instead more concerned with what they can do with the carcass.
Marcello looks away from them and sees a young woman named Paola (Valeria Ciangottini) standing at the other end of the beach, calling out and motioning to him. Marcello attempts to hear what Paola is saying but he cannot hear her words over the sounds of the ocean. For once, Marcello, the journalist and the high society insider, does not know what is being said. Finally, Marcello walks away with another woman, leaving Paola’s message a mystery.
What was Paola saying? Perhaps, in the end, that’s not as important as what we think she may have been saying. (Sofia Coppola later played a sort of homage to this ending with the final scene of Lost In Translation.) Marcello missed the message but the good life — La Dolce Vita — continues.