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The film Roger Ebert calls his all-time "favourite"


The tension between filmmaker and film critic has been fragile ever since the invention of commercial cinema when directors and movie studios were put under the microscope upon the release of each and every new film. It has reached breaking point in recent years, as everyone with a phone and access to Twitter, Facebook, or any social media platform regards themselves as movie experts and avid critics.

In the history of film criticism, there is no more excellent and more respected name than Roger Ebert, a presenter and writer who famously appeared alongside Gene Siskel on the 1980s show At the Movies where they’d review the latest releases. Perfectly contrasting in personalities, Ebert was often a little more lenient than Siskel, though this is certainly not to say that he would refrain from an impassioned debate. 

As a true purveyor of cinema, Ebert’s opinion was trusted by thousands who were willing to hang on his every word, celebrating the films of Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles and Yasujirô Ozu. In a list of his all-time favourites, in fact, he lists the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, Tokyo Story and even The Tree of Life, though only once did he disclose his number one. 

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“What is my favourite film?”, Ebert asks himself in an exclusive article, before considering his answer for a good amount of time, eventually coming to the answer of La Dolce Vita by Federico Fellini. Explaining his love of the film in good detail, Ebert begins by saying, “It doesn’t get old for me. Age has not withered, not custom staled, its infinite variety. I’ve grown so worked up just writing this paragraph that I want to slide in the DVD and start watching immediately”. 

Released in 1960, La Dolce Vita is Fellini’s masterpiece amid a truly impressive filmography that also includes the likes of 8½, Amarcord and La Strada. Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Anouk Aimée, the classic Italian film follows a week in the life of a tabloid journalist living in Rome.

Continuing in his gushing adoration for the film, Ebert adds that the film is “one of the most visually fluid movies ever made, a movie that approaches music in its rushing passion, not simply because Nino Rota’s score is one of the best ever recorded, but because the characters seem to move with music within them”. 

Having a deep personal connection to the classic film that he has re-watched time and time again throughout his career as a journalist, Ebert holds great love for La Dolce Vita. As Ebert prophetically explains, “I think I will always want to see it again. It won’t grow stale, because I haven’t finished changing”.