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VIDEO ESSAY: Anita Ekberg: Artist and Model

VIDEO ESSAY: Anita Ekberg: Artist and Model

Even as a 16-year-old, it was impossible not to fall in love with Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.
Her childlike glee when howling with the coyotes could melt the coldest
of hearts, and her physical curves made Marilyn Monroe, the clear
inspiration for her American starlet Sylvia, look like a stick figure.
As I tried to explain to my mom at age 16, “The word ‘voluptuous’ was
created for this woman!” (Now, at age 25, I still imagine gaining 15
pounds so I too can dress up in a black strapless dress and dance to
“Ready Teddy” one day on Halloween.) In Fellini‘s world view about the
shallowness of the 60s jet set, you still want to believe that Sylvia’s
joie de vivre will pull herself, and Marcello, out of the sadness of the
celebrity culture into which they find themselves sinking. 
In
a modern context, we might cynically categorize Sylvia as a “Manic
Pixie Dream Girl,” the childlike foil whose purpose to the script is to
be emotionally available to a vacant man and give him a reason for
living, but even the term’s coiner, Nathan Rabin, would be against that,
for Fellini’s greatest gift to Ekberg’s career was to contextualize
her–and, yes, her curves as well–into the emotional territory of his
scripts, instead of merely making her a sex object or plot device, as many of her
American films did before Fellini granted her cinematic immortality. He
celebrates her body in La Dolce Vita and Boccaccio 70, where
Ekberg plays a billboard come to life, but in both films, her sexual
prowess is used to expose the insecurity of man while capitalizing on
Ekberg’s trademark wit and comedic timing. On screen, she was the dream
you never wanted to stop chasing, even though you knew she’d never give
you her full attention. But she gave hope in an otherwise depraved
world, who knew that la dolce vita boils down to this simple line: “I like lots of things, but there are three things I love most: Love, love, and love.”

Serena Bramble is a film editor whose
montage skills are an end result of accumulated years of movie-watching
and loving. Serena is a graduate from the Teledramatic Arts and
Technology department at Cal State Monterey Bay. In addition to editing,
she also writes on her blog Brief Encounters of the Cinematic Kind.

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