With the Death of Anita Ekberg Comes the Death of La Dolce Vita As We Knew It

There have been so many actresses in film history who have made a lasting impression on the silver screen with minimal screen time (see: Major Stars With Minor Film Roles More Memorable Than the Movie). The greatest elucidation of this, however, is Anita Ekberg as Swedish-American actress/sex bomb Sylvia. Even though Ekberg would go on to star in other films, including another Fellini segment in Boccaccio ’70 called “The Temptations of Doctor Antonio,” Ekberg was irrefutably always seen as the whimsical, buoyant woman dancing in the Trevi Fountain.

Wild & carefree
Wild & carefree
With her death on January 11th, appropriately and symbolically in Rome (in spite of her Swedish origins), La Dolce Vita has been cast with a less glossy pall. Knowing that Anita Ekberg–the ultimate icon of the film and arguably Italian sentiment during the 60s–has expired does not taint the film, per se (obviously most of the people involved with it have already died), but it does make one question whether all traces of the concept of “the good life” have dissipated entirely.
As the lusted after Sylvia in La Dolce Vita
As the lusted after Sylvia in La Dolce Vita
The representation of an ethereal, free-spirited woman with overt connotations of the virgin and the whore syndrome has been shattered with the loss of Ekberg, who died in the picturesque commune of Rocca di Papa from an as of yet undisclosed illness she had been suffering from for some time. At a mere 83 years old (young for a woman these days, particularly a European one), Ekberg had endured the tragedy of so many bombshells who are forced to age: looking old (see also: Brigitte Bardot and Anna Karina). As someone whose acting worth had so long been based on her appearance, Ekberg was unsurprisingly quoted as saying, “When you’re born beautiful, it helps you start in the business. But then it becomes a handicap.”
Frozen in time
Frozen in time
While Ekberg will always be frozen in time as the woman cavorting through a fountain with Marcello Mastroianni, her demise is indicative of a permanent chasm in how we view La Dolce Vita henceforward. Call me macabre (which I most definitely am), but I’ll never be able to watch the movie in quite the same way knowing she’s gone. At least I have a tattoo of the broad to console me though.

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  1. Pingback: In The Name of All That Is Holy & Italian, Do Not Remake La Dolce Vita | Culled Culture

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