Cinema: The Day of the Beast

La Dolce Vita (Fellini; Astor) is ambitious, sensational and controversial. Acclaimed in Europe as "the greatest Italian film ever made," it has also cooked up Italy's sizzlingest scandal since the lurid Wilma Montesi case. L'Osservatore Romano has damned it as "indecent" and "sacrilegious"; Communists have hailed it as an "unmasking of corrupt bourgeois society."

What is the fuss all about? Something—and nothing. In fundamental intention, La Dolce Vita is an attempted apocalypse, a vast (3 hrs.) evocation of the Second Coming of Christ. But for those who do not care to be...

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