Seeing Federico Fellini's Roma


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Seeing Federico Fellini's Roma adventures in imaginative tripling
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ix, 169 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Kuhn, Philip A ( Philip Alan ), 1946-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Roma (Motion picture)   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1980.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 164-168).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Philip A. Kuhn.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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aleph - 000100087
notis - AAL5547
oclc - 07288593
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Full Text







Copyright 1980


Philip A. Kuhn

For Hyta, whose image I live up to


Who to acknowledge? It is a difficult question, yes? I should

begin to answer by saying that I have no master and so these acknowledg-

ments are not a listing of whom I would place in a greater or lesser

role in regard to this book or my life. I should add that I can only

acknowledge in the particular; someone's name is more a smile or the

angle of eyeglasses on a face or even a way of walking, Then, if I do

not acknowledge some people, it is not because I am forgetful or

temperamental; I am, instead, aware of them lastingly. In this light

I acknowledge Geneva and Robin Kuhn.

First there is Armando Prats. Through him shines the Latin imagi-

nation. He has as good an eye as one is likely to encounter. I have

learned much from him concerning movies and I admire his literal sensi-


Dr. A. Carl Bredahl spent a good deal of energy on this project.

His comments were thorough, helpful, and honest. He was open and

encouraging in spite of the fact that I worked at an enormously slow

pace. He, too, delights in the moving color image,

Dr. Sid Homan was as conscientious a reader as one could hope for.

He shared his knowledge of the theatre and pointed out numerous facets

of literary drama which allowed me to see Roma in a different light.

His comments regarding the publishing of this work were greatly


Dr. Richard Brantley made several comments regarding the cinematic

aspect of Roma which were invaluable. He suggested literary correlates

in regard to the individual and the concept of the city which were

instrumental in getting me to see the diversification that cinematic

adventure brings to traditional narration. He also provided me with

suggestions aimed at how to make this work better in terms of publi-


Then there is Dr. Richard Garrett. Several years ago, Dr. Garrett

opened his physics laboratory to me so that I might experiment with

film and laser light and increase my understanding of optics. I always

found him to be a curious and gracious individual.

Mary Windham is to be congratulated for persevering through my

shifting deadlines and still consenting to type this manuscript. She is

a thorough and compassionate human being.

Michael Green and Jack Gregory encouraged me during some diffi-

cult times. As former students, they convinced themselves that they

needed to hang out with an eccentric teacher; the truth is that I

needed them more. They are two fine imaginations.

And last there is W. R. Robinson, the man with the finite eyes,

who thought, probably rightly, that I'd never carry through with this

project. His suggestions in regard to the writing of the book were

difficult and at times obscure but nonetheless valuable. I learned

from him that the better thing one can do in this life is to be a "cell."

He has the right stuff and I am indebted to him for things which cannot

be accounted for in these pages. It's the end of an era, Handball.



ABSTRACT ... ........ .. viii


ONE OF ROMA. . . ... 10

The Camera Eye Conjoins; the boy-Fellini Advances 10
The Camera Eye Is Initiated; the Boy Makes
Contact with the Female Image. .. 19
Storing Energy for the Advance, the Camera Eye
Observes and the Boy Investigates. ... 26
The Camera Eye Seeks a Potent Image; the Black
Stone Marker and the Female Bicyclists 31
The Boy-Fellini Chooses and the Camera Eye Connects;
Together They Liberate the Colorful Female 41
The Young Man Fellini and the Camera Eye
Penetrate Rome .............. .53
The Imaginative Camera Eye and the Female Image:
Giving Birth to Color. . ... 61
The Present-Day Fellini and the Colosseum: the
Camera Eye Connects with an Insufficient Image 65
Notes. . . ... 71


The Gigolo, the Tourist, and the Imaginative
Camera Eye Bring the Adventure Forward 72
The Present-Day Fellini at the Villa Borghese:
the Imaginative Eye Seeks a Potent Union 80
The Red Male and the Blue Female: The Cinematic
Eye's Method of Conjunction. ... 84
The Talents of the Young Fellini and the Blond;
the Imaginative Eye Unites With the Power-
Image of the Arch. . ... .94
Papino, Maya, and the Documentary Camera; the
Imaginative Eye's Genius in the Roman House. 99
Notes. . . ... ... 109


The Cinematic Eye Gives Birth to the Concomitant
Images of Young People . ... 111


The Cinematic Eye, Dolores, and the Young
Fellini Advance Physical Phase. ... 119
The Cinematic Eye, the Princess, and the
Cardinal Achieve Intellectual Phase ...... 131
The Cinematic Eye and the Motorcyclists Give
Birth to Creative Phase . ... 144
Notes . . ... 162

BIBLIOGRAPHY. . . ... .... 164

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . ... .... 169

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Philip A. Kuhn

December 1980

Chairman: William R. Robinson
Major Department: English

A detailed study of Federico Fellini's Roma, this dissertation

explores Fellini's creative acts with the moving color image. The study

primarily concerns the relationships that are established with the

Fellini image, the female image, and the imaginative camera eye. Most

apparent in these relationships are the qualities of change, movement,

and power, and the overall drive to become free of imposed conditions of

verbal narration within the movie, namely the mythic and legendary.

Fellini seeks to move beyond these traditionally literary forms of

narration and to allow the actual, new story of the color image its

power of existence within the medium of the movie and of life.

This study of Roma focuses on the problem of how the moving color

image achieves concomitancee," a term used instead of its literary

forebear, unity. The exploration of concomitance entails paying close

attention to the adventures of each of the three Fellini images, the

various female images, and their relationships to the imaginative


camera eye. The concomitance of these three elements within the movie

engenders the phenomenon of "imaginative tripling." Imaginative tripling

is the primary narrative act Fellini performs with the moving color

image, an act which ultimately deformalizes in that it ceases to need

the existence of his image to succeed.

Each chapter of the dissertation corresponds to one of the three

episodes in Roma. Each chapter considers the degree to which Fellini's

imagination explores the values of Rome, that is, the possibilities of

the story of the city. The three chapters follow the successive

developments that are created from the interaction between Fellini's

visual imagination and Rome. Chapter One assesses the unique and

visually generated acts of the boy-Fellini--the revolution he initiates

within his highly controlled world--and traces his revolution which

transfers to the quality of life that the young Fellini and present-day

director manifest. Chapter Two promotes the adventure of Fellini's

imaginative tripling in terms of the opposing values of past and present.

It focuses on the young Fellini, who carries on the boy's imaginative

acts and unites with the female image. Also, the chapter examines this

new union and compares it to the tacit love which exists between

present-day Rome and the director's documentary view of its subway

system and the ancient Roman house that his film crew encounters there.

Chapter Three considers the breakaway of Fellini's imaginative tripling

in the successive and more complete unions of the male and female

images, In this chapter the conclusion is reached that the imaginative

camera eye, working together with the male and female images, advances

the existence of the new relationship of imaginative tripling as a

thriving power within the world.


When I first saw Federico Fellini's Roma, something happened up

on the screen which was, at first, difficult to see and even more

difficult to relate as an experience. I had the sense that whatever

happened was enough beyond my powers of seeing that I needed to see

the movie again. There was no problem seeing and evaluating the

influences and effects of the mythic, legendary, and religious qualities

in the movie. In addition, the voice-over narrator's assessment of

his film and his claim that he was attempting to paint a "portrait of

Rome" seemed removed from what had caught my eye. Something else was

present that neither the voice-over narrator nor the identifiable

mythic, historical, and religious features could account for or control.

I saw this something else in the boy-Fellini's interaction with

the priests in the Catholic school sequence. This something else was

also present in the last shots of Roma, which are radically different

from those of the opening sequences. Whatever had revealed itself to

my eye involved change and had its own system of advance. Whether this

happening related to the boy-Fellini's image or his young man and

present-day counterparts, I sensed that the acts of each of these images

were controlled by another power in the movie. No matter how eccentric

the activity of a given Fellini image became, it was ultimately


controlled by the power and method of the word. But during the movie's

concluding shots, the moving color image shed the restrictions of the

verbal method--especially as the voice-over Fellini employed it--and

that image broke free from all previous restraints under which it had

functioned. I came to see that, prior to the ending of the movie, the

Fellini image had been enlarging its power for action all along and had

finally transferred its powers to the common images aboard the motorcycles

in those ending shots.

This dissertation attempts to account for what I sensed to be

happening in my initial viewings of Roma. I do not approach the movie

with any a priori critical expectations. Nor am I interested in showing

how Roma is like or unlike another movie or how it upholds the values or

extends the tradition of a certain genre within the movies. What Roma

requires of the viewer is that he use his eyes to interact literally

with the living color image. For its visual method of narration initi-

ates the eye to a new story, a story of imaginative growth and creative

change. Specifically, the examination of the creative change narrated

in Roma focuses upon the relation of the boy-Fellini, the young Fellini,

and the present-day director to the various female images and the imagi-

native camera eye. These relations are beginnings, not ends. In

declaring beginnings, each union of the Fellini image, the female image,

and the camera eye progressively carries forward the event I call

"imaginative tripling." Imaginative tripling is a concrete and definite

process since it grows from the moving color image. Its story is open,

successive, and transformative. Fellini's visual act of and adventure

in imaginative tripling lives only in the moment it is seen; it


professes no other existence. Fellini's creative activity thus enacts

the living process as it is experienced in the visual possibilities of

each new day.

To account for what is happening in Roma, I found it necessary to

introduce new terminology. This system of terms describes the visual

method of the narrative advance in the movie, an advance whose central

focus is the Fellini image. As the movie enacts an adventure in change,

so the terminology is designed to account for the growth and change

achieved through the three key elements within that adventure, the

male and female images and the camera eye.

The central term I used throughout the dissertation is "concomi-

tance," which replaces its literary counterpart, unity. Concomitance

means working or existing together. That is, the concrete images of

Fellini and the female, and their interactions with the camera eye,

work together to promote value, the value of Fellini's new story. There

is a relationship between unity and concomitance in that both are

mergers. But unity leads to oneness and in the world of images there

can be no oneness. In concomitance, the idea of oneness is replaced

by the fact of wholeness. In other words, concomitance refers to how

images join together, give off power, and break free. The concomi-

tance within Fellini's imaginative tripling, through the specific

images already mentioned, discloses the narrative drive of the movie.

For example, concomitance in Roma is first achieved with the union of

the boy-Fellini, the window cleaning woman, and the camera eye during

the Half-head sequence. The boy's view and that of the camera eye

work together in seeing the woman. Her smile acknowledges the boy's

glances. The boy and camera eye take the power of this rudimentary

merger with them to an upcoming sequence involving another female image.

This fundamental concomitance reveals that concomitance in Roma is

accomplished through successive changes in the relationship of these

three forces.

Fellini's visual method, or his system of imaginative tripling, is

composed of three modes. Each mode identifies different qualities which

occur in moments of transition. The first mode entails contact, mainte-

nance, and penetration. Contact is the primary act of the senses. In

its relation to Fellini's visual system, contact is the passion to see.

It is the fact of looking, the prelude to involvement. Maintenance

is interest carried forth. In the method of seeing, maintenance appears

in the individuality of the image. When the eye attends to one image,

other images perform subordinately to that image. Maintenance is the

continuance of an image as itself. In addition, maintenance preserves

the state of things. In this regard it has an intellectual function,

which is the verbal narration of an image. Penetration is primarily the

exploration of value in the image, of its powers to act. Penetration

is contact in the extended sense in that a mutuality of contact--the

visual acknowledgments of two images--discloses the importance of a

union. Penetration promotes the value of a beginning. It is a gaining

entrance to something.

The second mode of imaginative tripling consists of talent,

faculty, and genius. These three features are narrational qualities.

This mode of Fellini's visual system derives from the first mode.

Talent is the basic human credit which clarifies imaginative activity.


Talent cuts into a medium so as to become part of that medium. It is the

quest for novelty seeking fulfillment from an exploration of the world.

Talent is the passion to get involved, to unite to an image and trans-

form it. Faculty is the method of the intellect. Stressing critical

judgment, the concerns of faculty emanate from the intellectual activi-

ties of comparison, delineation, distinction, divergence, and discrimina-

tion wherein an exclusive set of relations and circumstances is posited.

Faculty, moreover, upholds convention. Faculty employs the image in a

manner that subordinates images to ideas. Consequently, faculty

engenders opposition. Faculty interferes with or mediates visual

experience, denying its immediacy. Genius refers to the new moment of

excitement in visual experience. It expresses the performance of

individuals within their medium. Genius promotes the power of imagina-

tive activity in the world. It transforms life, making it new. Genius

is also the quality of amazement, the popping of power in the midst of

the routine and habitual. Genius expands the known. In addition,

genius is an involvement, whose value is a turning together with,

through which a quick and qualitative transformation of life happens.

It announces only itself and carries no message. In revealing itself

only, genius, as it revivifies value, declares its immanency.

Angle, aspect, and phase form the third mode of Fellini's imagina-

tive tripling. These three elements attend to outcome and performance.

Outcome is the quality of dramatic interaction whereas performance is

the potential of that interaction to be brought forward as a quality of

visual narrative or in succeeding narratives. This mode links to


concomitance in that it clarifies the existence of imaginative tripling

in its moments of transition. Angle reveals the process of the visual

event regarding its narrative qualities. The presence of two succeed-

ing and conflicting narrative properties evinces angle. In Roma, the

conflict emanates chiefly from the opposition of image and word. The

presence of talent and faculty in a given scene allows that the outcome

of that scene promotes duality, This splitting of narrative drive serves

to delay its advance. Aspect refers to the evolution of point of view.

In Roma, the first person, verbal point of view contrasts to the imagina-

tive point of view of the Fellini images and the cinematic eye. Indeed,

there is a continual struggle between the two. The first person, verbal

point of view is accompanied by narrative qualities of compression and

dimness in the formats of the shots it dominates. By comparison, the

imaginative point of view liberates the individual from these qualities

of compression and dimness, qualities in opposition to the medium of the

movie. Phase reveals the performance of concomitant images, their

succession and degree of involvement. Phase also promotes the value of

the medium of light, its primary colors which advance imaginative tripling

as an inherent quality working throughout Roma. Through phase, the

various achievements involved in the adventure are explored. Phase

signals the complete turning together of the male and female images and

their interactions with the camera eye.

Structurally, this study of Roma is composed of three chapters.

Each chapter conducts a detailed analysis of one of the three episodes

in the movie. Each chapter utilizes the method of vision discussed

above. As this is the method of the moving color image, so it is also

the method of the three chapters. What becomes most valuable to this

study is the interaction between that "something else" and the method it


Chapter One introduces the revolutionary vision of the boy-Fellini

and assesses the value of that vision in relation to the world of

faculty surrounding him. In line with this revolution, the special

terminology is introduced into the concrete activities prevading the

boy's arenas of action. I attempt to show how the boy's imaginative

tripling literally discloses the method of these terms so that the

value of his creative acts may be revealed. This chapter also considers

the transfer of the boy's visual activities to the young man and present-

day Fellinis. What is significant in this transfer of imaginative drive

is that it brings forward the voice-over narrator's (Fellini's) desire

to paint a portrait of the city with his documentary camera. As the

chief agent of faculty, he controls his three images though the value

of their visual revolution eludes him and gains the power of creative

advancement, concomitance. Further, the chapter details the beginnings

of the deformalization of Fellini's imaginative adventure. That is,

the power of visual revolution of the three Fellini images carries

forth to common male images. This is a necessary phase for the adven-

ture to become a phenomenon of the world.

Chapter Two considers the further advance of imaginative tripling

as a method of conjunction, as a value which links the activities of

past and present. This chapter focuses on the events surrounding the

young Fellini and those regarding the director's film crew which


documents the Roman subway and the two-thousand-year-old Roman house

that are encountered there. The voice-over Fellini continues to preside

over the images. The young man furthers the imaginative activity of

the boy in that he unites to the female image. He can perform the deeds

that the boy can only envision. With the young man's vision and the

acts of the World War II theatre, both Fellini's imaginative tripling

and its deformalized counterparts are brought forward. The chapter

continues with an examination of the documentary crew. It is the

function of the male and female members of Fellini's film crew to docu-

ment imaginative tripling. Their concomitant adventure replenishes

the fading historical qualities within the Roman house. This chapter

concludes by way of showing how the story of the moving color individual

increasingly becomes the focus for Fellini's imagination. The story of

the individual, gaining strength from its growing concomitance, further

supersedes the voice-over narrator's claim that Roma is the story of

Rome, of place and its history.

Chapter Three explores the birth process which leads to the

breakaway of Fellini's adventure. In fact, imaginative tripling is the

narrative structure of the third and last phase of the movie. This

chapter examines the unique relationships of the young people at the

Spanish Steps and the quality of their love. This love, presenting the

fusion of male and female images, is carried over to the brothel

sequences. In the culminating moment within the third brothel, the

young Fellini unites with Dolores. Now, the Fellini image has taken its

act of imaginative tripling as far as it can go. The chapter then

looks at the Domatilla scene. This scene promotes the adventure in


another light. What is ultimately encountered is the Pope's image,

whose diversive energies explode the qualities of the new union of

Fellini and Dolores into the Feast of Ourselves. Chapter Three concludes

with an assessment as to how the deformalization process takes place,

Particularly of interest is the way in which the voice-over narrator

and his method of faculty get cut out of the action. With the demise

of his powers, the new unions of the male and female images, together

with the moving camera eye, implant Fellini's adventure of imaginative

tripling in the world.



"The Journey Is the Problem"
from the opening subtitles
to Chaplin's The Gold Rush

Roma is an activity of the blessed blessed eye. Among the shattering
lights in a mountain's outline, on a screen divided against the stone,
he makes to look at the city with the mind's eye as if to paint a por-
trait, tell of the ideal and sacred city, sing his own song into love,
as if in loving it he would become wise and even more make of it a
woman's image. But there is a lack of love, as if in summoning the
place through words the immediate image drowns in smoke, becomes sucked
dry, as trees swallow the small fire that burns beneath them shredding
heavens with a limb. And the pastels do not bleed, nor do the mountains
dance, but words append the lights of that small town.

Is it Rimini
that bends the broken voice and ushers through the sounds, or are the
lights, convivial to the dawn, breaking on the edge of Rome where
fountains alter mind? There is a shunt of wheel and a deaf scythe.
Everything is here--everything is moving.

"And It Came to Pass--Not to Stay"
R. Buckminster Fuller

The Camera Eye Conjoins; the Boy-Fellini Advances

When the slide of the whore appears in the slide show during the

Catholic school sequence near the beginning of Roma, a struggle to

achieve fundamental narrative unity, or concomitance, occurs. The sub-

sequent shots become explosive. Events speed up. As spontaneous

activity infuses the stolid atmosphere of the large room, the lights

come on. The priests momentarily lose control over the boys who

obviously see in the whore's image something that is absent from those

of Rome's historical landmarks, something that unites them and from

which they gain great delight. They do not applaud this image from any

sense of expectation.

Despite the contradiction between the priests' and the boys'

behavior and between the priests' and the whore's images, a union has

surfaced that terminates the ordered methodology of the history lesson.

The camera eye reveals the whore's image and then, following a cut, it

zooms in on the boy-Fellini, White light highlights his face, revealing

his love of this image and his acknowledgment through a smile that this

is his act.

Just what is happening here? Quite clearly the boy has a talent,

a passion for seeing something new, He has added a new image into the

typical state of affairs. He chooses to involve himself in the scene

in a way peculiarly his own. Overshadowing other actions in this

sequence, the boy-Fellini has joined himself to an image and a novel

relationship springs forth from this union. Through the boy's talent,

an agreement comes to pass. This new image, that of a woman straddling

a chair, wearing only a g-string, her back facing the audience, a black

and white image stripped of any vestments including those of color,

achieves through its novelty and power of attraction a union that those

images of Rome's historical landmarks and the She-wolf do not.

The priests abhor this image just as much as the boy is attracted

to it. The whore's image happens in the context of Rome and its history,

and the priests object to her common image as much because of this

disjunctive association as because of their disdain for the stripped

image per se. For the priests, her image has no importance; that is,


it is not unified with the other slides. The priests view her image as

improper and vulgar. To them, she's simply a whore, a low-class woman.

Their definitions of her image rob it of its inherent power. For the

head priest, who sits at a table in the rear of the room, the slides hold

no interest. He only becomes concerned about the slide show when the

order of the class is interrupted. His power lies in maintaining order,

in keeping things going according to a pre-set plan.

Throughout this sequence there is an extremely stiff confrontation.

The boys' connection with this image lies beyond their sphere of knowl-

edge, hence its immediacy and thoroughness. They delight in seeing and

living up to the whore's image. That is, they delight in experiencing

its power. The priests force the boys to repent their actions because

the boys are too young to understand that they will "go to hell" if they

look at images such as the whore's.

This, then, is what is happening in the appearance of the slide of

the whore: The "new" in the form of the boy-Fellini's talent temporarily

replaces the old order. Also, a concomitance manifest in the trinary

relationship of the whore's image, the boy-Fellini, and the camera eye

is narratively joined. Because concomitance is a plural event (that is,

one in which three factors are needed to advance the creative activity

in the movie), Roma's story does not entail the reconciliation of

opposites--for example, the boy's act and the order of the school. Roma

is the story of the commencement of particular and qualitative activity.

In this regard, the importance of the slide show is that it exemplifies

Fellini's opening remarks during the credits: Roma is not a traditional

story with a "convenient plot and characters."


For the boy-Fellini, the whore's image presents a progression, an

imaginative and narrative leap from the She-wolf and landmark slides.

The lesson on Rome, for him, begins as a female image. That image

extends and transforms the traditional story of Rome concerning its

myth, via the She-wolf slide, and its legendary qualities, embodied in

those images of the St. Maria Maggiore, Caecilla Matella's Tomb, the

Arch of Constantine, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and St. Peter's

Cathedral. Myth and history yield to the whore's vital, actual image.

The boy makes no connection with Rome through the architectural or

mythic structures. As a matter of fact, these other images bore him.

He only responds to them half-heartedly through short unenthusiastic

clapping; his face is without expression.

For Fellini, even as a youth, images are dynamic enterprises, The

whore's image results from the projection of light. The boy chooses

projection, that activity which "throws forward," as the medium for

exploration, although at this moment in the movie he doesn't control it.

The female image, through projecting light, transforms the present

moment--throws it forward, initiating change, specifically the scene's

dramatic change of attitude and mood.

Another change initiated in this scene is that of the camera eye.

At first just another spectating eye in the room, it eventually assumes

the view of the projector. The camera eye throws forward the whore's

image. It is the camera eye that first shows her image to the eye of

the movie viewers, and not the slide projector in the room. Like the

boy-Fellini, the camera eye directly links to the image of the whore.


Both the boy and the camera eye advance this image, the boy dramatically,

the camera eye narratively. Moreover, through the present perception of

the movie viewers, this concomitant advance is unhindered by the past,

by myth and history.

Rome is an image of skin for the boy (it is what happens on the

surface of the sheet-screen), whereas he sees the other images within a

perspective, whether this perspective be compositional or historical.

The whore's image and that of the She-wolf are similar. Both, though

having no movement of their own, are nonlinear images that don't

possess the stiffness of the perspectival formats characterizing the

images of the buildings projected onto the screen. These two images

differ, however, in one important aspect. The She-wolf image is con-

ventionalized. Not only does this image occur in a formal and

historical overview of Rome in the slide show, it also marks Rome's

beginnings. It is the first and most glorified Roman image. On the

other hand, the whore's image--etymologically, "whore" means "to be

liked"--lacks these restrictions or qualifications. The whore's image

occurs originally and spontaneously. Its freshness and wholeness do

not suffer from any stylization, save that style which light imparts to

it. For the boy, her image, the simple declaration of his young eye,

marks a beginning.

Thus, the slide-show sequence evidences, in a rudimentary manner,

that the story of Roma involves thoroughly connecting the female image,

Fellini's image, and the relation between them to the imaginative

camera eye. The interaction of these three powers provides the matrix


from which Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling begins. Since

the story of Roma involves the connections that the camera eye makes

between Fellini's image and those of the various female images he seeks
out, Roma is the story of the camera eye. This is not in itself really

new for Fellini, except that here it relates to Fellini and Rome. But

the camera eye performs a greater task in Roma than making connections

of importance relating to the unity of images in the movie. It is not

the observational protagonist that it is in Fellini's The Clowns, the

movie preceding Roma. For Roma, the camera eye is a fully integrated,

moving, and interacting protagonist. To separate the camera eye from

the female image or from Fellini's is to reduce the narrative impor-

tance of Roma. The action not only centers around but becomes the

relationship asserted through Fellini, the female, and the camera eye

as wholly integrated powers. This is the activity to which the term

"imaginative tripling" is addressed. Moreover, as the boy-Fellini's

actions show, imaginative tripling is a method of conjoinment and


Before the whore's image appears, the priests are busy giving the

boys a visual history lesson, or a lesson on the nature of faculty,

Faculty is the method of the intellect, which throughout Roma opposes

Fellini's adventures in imaginative tripling. As the one priest iden-

tifies the slides for the boys, he instructs them in the fundamentals

of faculty. Faculty specializes in opposition. The priest teaches the

boys that vision, as it persists in the method of faculty, declares an

image spatially frozen and bound in time. For the priests, an image

has no inherent powers for change. For them, an image is a vehicle


upon which a narrative technique foreign to it is placed. The priests'

method of faculty cannot merge with any of the slide images. It is not

the goal of faculty to bind itself to the world. The priests' faculty

professes the value of stiffness and patterns of stiffness, It is this

stiffness of the ordered images that the boy-Fellini rejects inside the


With the revelation of the whore's image, the boy-Fellini inadver-

tently gives the priests and his fellows a lesson in talent; he con-

fronts them with a perceptual penetration into the moment. When the

history lesson, the formal attention and order, the tight rows of

uniformed boys, and the overall tranquility of the room are superseded,

the boy-Fellini's genius has come to the fore. Becoming active in the

concomitant alignment of the naked image, the boy-Fellini, and the

camera eye, it ruptures the method of faculty which the priests enforce.

The boy-Fellini's genius obliterates order; it shatters the artificial.

As swiftly as the new moment of excitement in the form of the

naked image takes place, equally as swift do the priests assert their

authority. Wherever there is imaginative activity, there is the

stiffest opposition to creative advance. The head priest slams his fist

on the table. The priest who has been narrating the slide show tells

the boys, "Don't look. Shut your eyes or you'll go to hell," As he

speaks, he moves in front of the whore's image, his arms outstretched so

that he forms a cross. The cross is a cinematic form linked to faculty.

There is no other form which involves opposition in the manner that the

cross does. Its vertical and horizontal lines in their x- and y-like

axes never touch, except at one fixed point. The cross is also a

terminated or cropped form with an absolute center; it doesn't house;

rather it segments and quarters the field of view. As a connotative

instrument, it represents the Church, itself a historic and full-blown

arena for the continuance of faculty as the supreme human narrative


In contrast, the cinematic form the whore's image presents is the

double arch of her buttocks. These unclosed double arches function as

the central image in Fellini's imaginative tripling. In the schoolroom,

the priest's human cross covers the naked image's double arch, removing

it from view. The priests' faculty, as it emerges through the linear

cross, the stern words, and the basically black and white light format

of the room, serves to control and fix the boy-Fellini's imaginative

adventure. More particularly, it serves to intervene in the boy-Fellini's

drive to integrate himself with an image of his choosing.

Partially dominating the end of the sequence is the image of the

She-wolf. Shortly before the conflict within the room is resolved by

way of the "hymn of forgiveness," the She-wolf slide reverses. The

projectionist loses all control over the slide projector. The whore's

image robs him of his mechanical ability. As the projectionist is

falling to his knees, his hands over his eyes, in order to join the

others in the hymn, the image of the She-wolf returns to the screen.

For a split second it faces to the right and then reverses to its former

position, facing left, as it was at the beginning of the slide show.

This feat happens automatically; there is no way to explain it. It is


outside the priests' domain of faculty. The self-reversal signals that

this image and its thematic importance in the history of Rome are already

insufficient as a primary narrative source for Roma. Roma will not seek

its fulfillment through a chronological series of events but from

Fellini's generative capabilities. Myth and the She-wolf's image

necessarily align with the central story of the movie because they too

signal beginnings, but the creative change achieved in Roma is not based

on the limiting capabilities of a serial advance.3

As the slide-show sequence fades almost out, several other features

pertinent to the She-wolf image appear. The boys partially block out

her image, which lies in the background of the frame. That image now

occurs in a literally lesser light. With the lights of the room turned

on, the power of the She-wolf to radiate, to impart to the eyes a signi-

ficance of details, greatly decreases. No one in the room looks at the

She-wolf. She may exert no further power over the members of the room.

The narrative impact of the She-wolf dissolves; she's just another image

in the room, no more or less important. The power of faculty that the

priests act upon dominates the scene. The camera eye passively

observes. The boy-Fellini is indistinguishable from the other boys.

Despite the efforts of the priests to stop it, the concomitance of

the female image, Fellini's image, and the camera eye, out of what is

overtly initiated in the slide show, continues to change and advance.

The events of the scene suggest that these three units will join

together more thoroughly as Roma progresses and will give off power to

other images which will then promote imaginative tripling as an activity

in the world. Ultimately, the concomitance within Fellini's imaginative

tripling will disclose a breakaway of creative energy primarily through

the male and female riders aboard the motorcycles in Roma's ending

shots. Among other things, the breakaway entails supplanting the method

of the voice-over narrator's faculty with the liberating powers of the

new adventure. The camera eye will also break away, joining itself to,

leading, and then interacting with the fully charged and active moving

color images of the movie's final shot.

The Camera Eye Is Initiated; the Boy Makes Contact
with the Female Image

To see clearly what is at issue in the conflict between the boy-

Fellini and the Catholic school, it is necessary to look at the Half-head

and schoolroom sequences. Within the formal classroom Fellini, as the

voice-over narrator, recollects a few of the specific tales and historic

figures about which he learned, In the other sequence the boy-Fellini

and his two friends approach a statue of Caesar, called Half-Head. It

is winter. The voice-over narrator introduces the sequence by stating

that every Italian town has a statue of Caesar. With the existence of

the boy-Fellini's image, another narrator takes over. He is an old man

who tells a story of the sculpture to the boy and his two friends.

Both sequences have a verbal narrator whose goal is to endow the

moment with historic latitude. But where the prime moment in the Half-

head sequence revolves around the art of sculpture, that in the

schoolroom attaches itself to myth and history as verbal narrative arts.

The verbal history lesson is the forerunner of the visual history

lesson, the slide show. In addition, the boy is inside the school and

outside when he sees the statue. The inside/outside motif is important

because imaginative tripling cannot ultimately succeed inside. Its

story depends not on confinement but on liberation. The boy-Fellini

searches for novelty in the Half-head sequence, whereas his quest is

denied in the schoolroom. What succeeds inside the schoolroom is con-

vention, which perpetuates opposition to the boy's visual adventure.

The Half-head sequence has to be carefully scrutinized. The eye

level long shot which establishes the sequence shows the old narrator to

the extreme left of the frame. In fact, since the frame cuts into him,

he's half an image himself. Behind him is an old woman inside the

rectangular frame of a window. She smiles. But she is literally a

cardboard image. Having no power of movement, she's as frozen as Half-

head. Both are sculpture. When the camera eye zooms in on the old

man, the cardboard image is seen to lack power. Her presence comple-

ments the feeble narrator, whom the boy-Fellini ignores and who for all

intents is speaking to hear himself. His job is to substantiate the

worth of the statue, This narrator, the cardboard woman, and the

statue are props in the voice-over narrator's method of faculty; they

are visual facts which do not have the power to achieve concomitance.

To the extreme right, the boy-Fellini is standing next to the

other boys. The frame cuts the boy-Fellini in half, also. Several

narrative properties which contribute to concomitance become evident.

The old man's verbal narration occurs at a distance. There is no

dramatic interaction between the boy-Fellini and this narrator. So

there is a dual narrative element in the sequence. The old man, half

inside the left frame, promotes a story which is beginning to lose its

power. The boy-Fellini, having moved into the frame, brings his new


narrative with him. The camera eye joins itself to the boy's visual

powers through a subjective camera shot, whereas it regards the rest of

the scene in the manner that the old man regards it, casually and from

long distance. This distance attests to the severe angle of the division

splitting apart the verbal from the visual forces. On the other hand,

the boy's method of visual assertion is brought into phase with the

camera eye through its attachment to his act. The camera eye renders

the value of the root-act of the boy's imaginative tripling in Roma.

His act of imaginative tripling is in evidence in the slide-show sequence

but phase, the stage of development, the sequence of movement, is not

achieved. The whore's image is black and white, where only color can

promote phase as a narrative value. It is good that her image is

crossed out and not maintained as a percipient activity. The boy must

qualitatively expand his capacity for imaginative action. The whore's

image also lacks movement, so it is in phase with the boy-Fellini only

so far as his visual narrative exists, It requires the entire movie to

bring the cinematic particulars in Fellini's imaginative tripling

completely into phase. Even then, phase is only relatively completed.

The narrator's words in the Half-head sequence are related to the

sculpture in the same manner that the priest's words relate to the

images in the slide show. The old man employs faculty, especially as

it relates to a type of critical judgment and historic evaluation.

Once again the object of attention for faculty lies fixed. It does not

itself advance; it needs external narrative support. It must be

maintained from outside itself. Clearly the statue occupies a sub-

ordinate role in relation to the old man's narration. For the


voice-over narrator the entire Half-head sequence is subordinate to the

statue and to the historic figure the statue imitates. The narrators'

feats of maintenance carry forward the statue's interest,

The boy-Fellini ignores the image of Caesar. What interests him is

the woman who cleans the second story window. The camera eye subjec-

tively shows his view, an extreme tilt shot up and to the left. The

camera eye aligns with the boy, participating in his interest in and

contact of the female image. The camera eye and the boy indulge in her

image. The woman smiles at the boy. Whereas the cardboard old woman's

smile is frozen and ineffectual, the window cleaning woman's smile is

happy and vital. She acknowledges both the boy's view and the camera

eye's view. She enjoys being looked at. The boy has no such inter-

action with the statue or with the old man who narrates its historic


It becomes evident in this interaction that what Fellini's imagina-

tive tripling involves, through the contact of the boy, the female

image, and the camera eye, is seeing that art and the world are insepa-

rable. Where the old narrator and voice-over narrator distinguish

between art and the world, Fellini, even as a boy, literally sees art,

the art of visual narrating, spring from the world. For Fellini there

is really no such thing as art. There is only the world and Fellini as

he moves through the world.

Thus Fellini's basic narrative act in Roma springs from the contact

it makes with the female image in the Half-head sequence. He joins the

rudimentary visual circuit of his story in the narrative merger that

occurs in the sequence. This contact launches the dramatic action the

boy-Fellini performs with his talent in the slide show. The contactual

birth of Fellini's imaginative adventure is maintained by the faculty of

the voice-over narrator. This is necessary. The boy-Fellini's new life

has to break away from its environment.

In the Half-head sequence, the powers for the boy-Fellini's quest

are overtly activated. It houses, therefore, a reverse of the slide-

show adventure. Where the priest forms a cross as he stands in front of

the whore's image, the cleaning woman's enormous buttocks, forming a

single arch, and her back cover the crossed frame of the half-open

window. The cross-form is broken due to the fact that the window is

open. The female image, half in and half out of the window, hints at

penetration. Her task, cleaning the window, clearing a visual path,

coincides with the opening up of vision that the slide show enacts. Her

presence on the window ledge suggests that her image connects the

outside and the inside. The boy-Fellini tacitly learns this connection.

At least he learns at this stage that the female image is a connective

one. His appreciation of the power of the female image underlies his

introducing it in the form of the whore into the slide show.

The boy-Fellini chooses to revel in the window cleaner's image and

not in that of Half-head. For the boy, her image is spermatic and

vivid. More important, it is an actual image of present perception,

whereas the narrators dwell on a past moment. The woman's image itself

is, therefore, thematically restricted by the past. Half-head has no

such actualizing power. For the narrators--the old man and the voice-

over Fellini--the statue serves the purpose of exemplifying a kind of


power in history that succeeds by means of literary conventions. Half-

head is a construction, a verbal edifice.

The window cleaner's image and the whore's image have no meaning

or purpose for the boy. Occurring in the talent phase of Fellini's

career as an artist, or before critical judgment takes place, the female

images have no purpose or meaning. They advance themselves only, and

the boy and camera eye advance with them. The female images need no

representation and orientation. The narrators dwell on their abilities

to actuate the sculpture in a narrative beyond their surface relation-

ship with the statue. They are enamored with what the image represents

and the legend associated with it, not with its dynamics. Ironically,

the closest either comes to contact with the statue is to describe it

as Half-head, to see it as having a descriptive possibility or a

visually relevant power. (But this is a special case for the power of

words.) Afterwards, their words fail them. They do not complete any

descriptive narration of the work of art. Neither does the boy. His

job is to look for the possibilities for advancement within visual

arenas. Silently, he initiates an act with which the camera eye aligns

itself. The camera eye and the boy make a penetration of the frame and

do not maintain the typical state of affairs or, for that matter, the

state of verbal narrative in which it subordinates the particulars of

the visual world to itself.

Through his penetration of the Half-head sequence, the boy makes

his way through the scene. In so doing he effects a change which

results in the acceleration of this adventure in imaginative tripling


forward into more sophisticated arenas. The boy penetrates the inner-

most resources of his medium. Through the female image, he gains

entrance to the interior of the frame. He and the subjective camera

eye establish the interior of the frame as the world the imaginative

adventure will continue to explore, a world whose method of interaction

is based on immediate perception.

Penetration also occurs in the Half-head sequence as a cinematic

agent. The arch, present in the walls of the building and the screen

of the umbrella, exists in agreement with the seed crystal of imagina-

tive tripling, that is, with the boy, the female image, and the camera

eye. The arch is chiefly an element in a design. It is not a form that

anyone or anything passes through. It doesn't link directly to the boy

or the female image, though the top arc of one arch appears beneath the

window cleaner's image. In this rudimentary association the arch is a

power of the camera eye which must eventually become visually involved

in the tripled relationship. The arch begins to power the adventure

through the form of the double arch emanating from the whore's buttocks.

In addition, the last act the boy performs in Roma is to watch the Roma

International train leave his hometown. Climbing the fence that

encloses the playground, he distinguishes himself from his two platmates

who remain boxed in by the diamond forms of the fence. In opening up

his field of view, the boy frees the adventure to advance beyond him.

Through a subjective camera shot, the camera eye also makes visual

contact with the train's image which embodies the arch-form associated

with visual narrating, progression, and concomitance in Roma. When the


train departs, it penetrates the frame and penetration, by way of the

arch-form, becomes the theme of the young man Fellini's adventure in


Storing Energy for the Advance, the Camera Eye Observes
and the Boy Investigates

With the visual drive of the narrative established by the boy-

Fellini in the Half-head and slide-show sequences, it is possible to see

more fully what the conflict between the boy-Fellini and the priests

entails for Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling. In the events

in the schoolroom scene, which precede the slide-show sequence, the

cane-wielding teacher and the matron are busy keeping the boys in order.

The head teacher preserves order within the school and the voice-over

narrator, through his memory, emphasizes the known, chiefly what he

learned there. What the narrator knows provides him with the key to his

control over the portrait.

The sequence is set apart from the mainstream of the boy's

narrative thrust. He does not attach himself to any particular image.

He investigates the scene. The camera eye does not involve itself with

the boy's visual capabilities. Both are merely observers ultimately

working against each other. The school's faculty, in its most rigorous

forms, dominates the action within the frame and poses the basis for

conflict that the boy and the camera eye seek to move beyond. The

sequence maintains an exclusive set of circumstances and promotes

comparative and divergent values. It is this sense of value from which

the boy breaks free in order to perform his talent in the slide show.


The front wall of the schoolroom consists of two shades of grey.

Dark grey colors the wall for its bottom sixty percent and light grey

covers the upper part of the wall. A blank blackboard on a stand

appears to the left-front of the classroom. The matron stands in front

of the rectangular form, She wears a dark drab uniform. The boys all

wear similar dark blue uniforms. The head teacher is essentially a

black and white image. The scene, with the exception of the dark brown

bench-desks, is achromatic. It is literally absorbing and dim; it

doesn't radiate.

The scene evinces splitting or fragmenting. On the front wall a

cross occurs between two framed photographs. One photo depicts a

"head" shot of Mussolini. The other is a bust shot of the Italian King,

Victor Emmanuel III, Though the cross separates the two pictures, they

are not visually in opposition. No image opposes another. In history,

though, the men opposed each other ideologically; they acted upon the

power of faculty.

As the cross is the cinematic agent splitting up the wall, so it

segments the room. The one central aisle leads to a horizontal one at

the front of the room. The room establishes a terminated cross, a T.

The cross forms emphasize the presence of faculty. As the scene divides

and narratively advances black and white polarization, it dramatically

splits also.

The voice-over Fellini's power of faculty opposes the action within

the frame, subordinating it to his own wishes. He states that at school

he heard some fascinating stories about Rome. He learned about "Atilius


Regulus, who got himself rolled over inside a barrel lined with pointed

nails; Caius Mucius Scaevola, who barbequed his hands over red-hot

coals; and Caligula, who used to sit at the table together with his-

horse." For the narrator both Roman images, like Half-head, and Roman

legends surrounded him as a boy. Like the sculpture of Caesar, these

strange stories about Rome's military figures fueled Fellini's imagina-


Imaginative tripling happens, however, in spite of the voice-over

narrator's claims of control over his own story. The new visual story

has no heroes and is not fantastic. The boys are restless, and a clear

division exists between what the teacher and matron try to accomplish

and what actually happens. The boys reject the superimposed order of

the school. For their disrespect, they receive the teacher's blows to

their heads and the threats he makes with his cane. Many of the boy's

heads, as a form of punishment, have been shaved. More than a few of

them have adhesive tape crosses on their shaved heads. This world

traps the boy-Fellini's drive, creating in him the need to seek

eccentric action, such as he brings it to the slide show in the form of

the whore's image. In the schoolroom the boy's restlessness, as it

foreshadows adventure, prepares him for the slide show. The boy needs

the school's oppressive method to rebel against; it allows his story

its qualities of choice over the staid activities of what already


The camera eye remains at the back of the classroom. It doesn't

penetrate the scene and is literally detached from the boy's plight.

A cut must occur for the camera eye to get into the flow of events, but


it doesn't track into the action and join to it through a fluid self-

act. Despite the several cuts, the "eye" only observes; it doesn't

interact with the images. The scene frustrates the boys, the authority

figures, and ultimately the camera eye. This frustration, seen in the

splitting of the sequence, lays the groundwork for the narrative advance

that the boy-Fellini and the camera eye achieve in episode one.

History, via the narrator's words, his act of memory, and those

military figures on the front wall, opposes the actual, perceptual

moment. The Church and its school, as proponents of faculty, restrict

the boy-Fellini's passion to see and to generate his story. What

results is an overall dramatic compression. This compression issues

from the super-tension of a given sequence or scene wherein a narra-

tional power, like splitting, controls the surface event.

Nowhere is splitting more apparent than near the end of this

sequence when, taking their cue from the voice-over narrator, the boys

rush to the one window of the room to see the She-wolf and the geese of

the capitol. The narrator states that, as a boy, he was allowed to see

these images from his classroom window. After the boys rush to the

window, there is a cut. The camera eye tilts and zooms in slightly on

them. It watches them watching. The narrator's method of faculty

dominates the boys' images. The boys don't see anything. The boy-

Fellini's ability to make contact is stymied. He cannot unite to an

image. As the boys look outside--and clearly they aren't looking at

anything, because they continue to bump each other and play their school

games, though the boy-Fellini is more earnest in investigating the


off-screen image than the others--the head teacher demands that they

return to their seats. He says, "Where do you think you are, in the

streets?" They are only allowed to look out the window at a worthwhile

image, that is, at an image of mythic or historic relevance. Their

learning has little to do with what is common, practical, or perceptual.

Indeed, the strange tales awe the voice-over narrator, Clearly the boy-

Fellini is not awed by the images he sees. The narrative split between

the percipient arena of the world at large and the intellectual domain

of the school persists. The split contributes to the boy's interaction

in the moment of genius in the slide show. It reveals the worldly power

of the whore's image in contrast to the priests' isolated arena.

When the camera eye zooms in on the boys, the crossed window frame

becomes more of a formal Christian cross, revealing the greater power

of faculty established by the Church. The cross segments both the

camera eye's view of the boys and their view of the external field.

Every cinematic form in this sequence serves to fragment the life and

dynamics of the youths, This especially occurs at the window when, like

Mussolini and the King, the boys are framed into four "pictures." The

significant difference is that these "pictures" move.

When the boys are at the window, their images achieve dramatic

compression to its severest limits. For a moment they are split away

from the eccentric activity they carry out in the classroom. Their

containment is formal and complete. Similar to what happens to the old-

man narrator and the camera eye in the Half-head sequence, the boy-

Fellini and the camera eye are diametrically opposed. Boxed in for a

moment, unable to unite to an image, the boy loses his vital drive,


his inherent ability to narrate within the world. In fact, the boys'

rapid movements within the classroom, despite their obvious conse-

quences, acknowledge their love of pure energy and the uniqueness of

their silent communication.

It is clear by the end of the schoolroom scene that it is this

denial of the visual method that the Fellini image must overcome in

Roma. The boy's talent for gaining access to his medium is arrested in

the schoolroom. Without his powers for seeing and narrating the female

image, the camera eye becomes a passive recorder of events. In over-

coming the restrictions in the schoolroom, the boy-Fellini--and later

his young man and present-day counterparts--will overcome the power of

the voice-over narrator's faculty which establishes increasingly greater

opposition to Fellini's imaginative tripling as the movie progresses.

As a dividing power, the narrator introduces his method of faculty in

the first shot and opening dramatic shot of Roma. His power of faculty

establishes itself in opposition to the red light and the moving images

of three female bicyclists. The narrator pays no attention to the

female images. His method is not oriented to concomitance, Rather, it

seeks proper images for a portrait of Rome.

The Camera Eye Seeks a Potent Image; the Black
Stone Marker and the Female Bicyclists

To properly appreciate the energies that are unleashed and Fellini's

method of visual narrative employed in the diverse activities enacted in

the opening section of the movie, culminating in the slide-show scene

and Roma as a whole, it is necessary now to go back to the opening shots

of the movie and examine the larger narrative unit of the first episode


which extends from Roma's first shot to those of the Colosseum. In the

opening shots, what becomes overtly evident about the drive and conflict

within Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling is visually present

and active but dramatically latent. The first shot of Roma consists of

nothing more than a screen of red light. The red light indicates that

energy is present at the outset of the narrative. The shot advances

light-energy in its basic form, as color, so there is literally a

radiating surface powering the movie's beginning. The movie promotes

itself in terms of its medium. The red shot initiates the viewer into

the surface sensibility which the Fellini image seeks to explore.

Moreover, red promotes experience and signals changes in experience. In

addition to the arch, red also aligns with the new visual adventure.

The existence of red indicates the degree of narrative phase that

Fellini's imaginative tripling establishes during its journey in the


One word fades in to the red surface: Roma. It consists of black,

Roman-type characters. After this word fades out, the remaining credits

appear and disappear. During the shot Fellini, as the voice-over

narrator, introduces himself and proceeds to make some interesting

comments. He says,

Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. The film you are about
to see does not have a story in the traditional sense with
a neat plot and characters that you can follow from the
beginning to the end. This picture tells another kind of
story, the story of a city. Here I have attempted a portrait
of Rome. When I was very small and still had never seen
her, since I lived in a little provincial town in the
north of Italy, Rome for me was only a mixture of strange
contradictory images.


Fellini attaches himself to the surface world of these "strange"

images in that what he seeks is an image, a portrait of Rome. His

words, like the title and credits of the movie, occur after the red

light. As a verbal narrator, Fellini is accurate in his assessment of

the movie. Roma does not have a story in the traditional sense, that

is, in the sense that it has its roots in another medium, such as

literature, and that the story is a translation of sorts. Roma does not

ultimately involve beliefs, customs, proverbs, codes, doctrines,

teachings, sayings, or conventions, or the general observance of any of

these models which house the seeds for stories and tales. Fellini makes

a valid observation about his story; it is an unusual and untraditional

one whose roots do not lie in knowledge but rather in visual experience.

The only character or mark in the movie is this over-riding verbal

narrator. Ironically, he is a voice without an image. He sets forth

authoritative comments about his film in an attempt to establish himself

as its narrative agent. In fact, his words are themselves "credits,"

the acknowledgment of work completed. He states what he believes to be

true about the movie. His is the only mind or interior that is con-

fronted during the story, and it is a mind undergoing degeneration.

It is already apparent how the new visual story in Roma needs

images and not ideas for its performance. It is also apparent how the

Church and its school hamper the growth of the boy-Fellini's narrative

acts. In a similar vein this narrator, as a prime mover--a role he

falsely assumes because his words occur after the red light which

initiates change in Roma--tries to frame all the images which contribute

to his "portrait of Rome." In so doing he tries to control the color

images which move forth and interact in Roma. He seeks to rob the

moving images of their purity and uniqueness, qualities common to all

moving images, by placing them in a formal context. His "portrait"

consists of a method for events which derives from an order issuing from

his memory. He endows common images--in themselves a spectacle, a
"public show," something "to look at"--with a rite of passage. Roma

is not a story of a city, of a place. It is the story of particular

moving images, those which unite to carry forth Fellini's adventures in

imaginative tripling. It is fitting that the narrator, as the central

power of faculty in the movie, never comments on the concomitance which

becomes more apparent as the movie progresses. Concerning himself with

past events, the narrator fails to connect with the concomitant images

of present perception,

Moreover, the narrator's penchant for wanting to fix the moving

image yields finally to that moving image. The process begins as his

words follow the vibrant red light in the first shot. This voice will

die. For without its death, Fellini's story of imaginative tripling can

neither succeed or deformalize (the process whereby Fellini's imaginative

adventure becomes an event in the world, beyond the control of his

images, though his images are responsible for creating its existence).

Nor can Fellini's story become free to impart its full value to its

viewers. This degenerative or non-creative activity is in evidence when

the boy's story emerges during the Half-head sequence. The narrator

claims that Rome was a mixture of "contradictory images," images which

literally go "against words," "against speaking." The moving image


promotes the force which ultimately undoes him. This contradiction and

the hint of the narrator's death occur in the movie's second shot.

The narrator's words come after the red light in the first shot;

they also come after the moving image, that of three female bicyclists,

in the second shot of Roma, which begins in medias res. The shot is a

basic exercise in the narrator's method of faculty from which other

scenes--for example, the schoolroom and bar sequences-derive. The

frame almost divides into halves. At the center of this division is a

telephone pole to which a slant structure attaches. It looks like

this: A. The form is a stylized version of the Greek letter

lambda. The symbol, another form linked to faculty, signifies perme-

ance. The symbol is a cinematic gauge of what is happening in the

shot. The permeance of the form aligns with the fixing and limiting

power of the voice-over narrator's words. There are also a rectangular

stone marker and two surrealistic trees. There is a town in the back-

ground of the frame and behind it a mountain. The shot is extremely

dull; blues, greys, and muted whites predominate.

Three female bicyclists emerge from the left of the frame. The

first walks her bike and carries a scythe. The other two ride their

bikes. The second cyclist moves ahead of the first and the three exit

to the right of the frame. Their path turns slightly into the frame as

they leave it. From the onset of Roma, the female image introduces its

power as that which penetrates the visual arena. In coming to the

middle of the three bicyclists, in penetrating the moving event, the

woman carrying the scythe foreshadows the degeneration of the narrator.

It is the narrator--a power at the center of things throughout the

movie--who will get "cut out" of the action near the movie's ending.

The second shot emphasizes extreme depth. Besides the stone

marker, Rimini, and the mountain, the string of telephone poles cuts

into the left center of the background, The poles curve slightly from

right to left, penetrating the center foreground. In its various

forms, communication and forms for communication dominate the shot.

Various female images in this episode, however, will create a way into

the frame so that the concomitant images in the adventure will

penetrate it similarly to the images of the telephone poles. The moving

color image will always remain within view. The communicative depth

that the telephone poles establish will begin its move to the hori-

zontal position, a move that the lambda, also a symbol for longitude,

declares implicitly. It is not verbal feats which come to have

penetrative capabilities. They too "cut away" as the movie progresses.

As the crossed condition gives way to the arch, so too does the verbal

give way to the visual in each episode.

The setting of the second shot is a given early winter morning in

the narrator's past. Snow covers parts of the ground. The trees are

barren. The shot is primarily tedious. There is difficulty seeing its

particulars. Only scant top lighting, the few lights in the town

windows, and the softly reflecting undersides of clouds and patches of

snow illumine the frame. The low hanging clouds visually compress the

shot. The narrative subtlety of the images in the shot contrasts to the

narrator's alert memory of his first-remembered Roman image. The shot

sharply contrasts to that of the red light. The only red is the

flanged, muted red cover concealing a bundle that one of the women

carries on her back. Already the red light has aligned itself with a

potential image in Fellini's imaginative tripling.

Cinematically, the cross form, the rectangle, and the circle

prevail. In fact, the shot appears as a composition of geometric lines

and forms, which further establishes the dominance of the narrator's

faculty. The crossed form occurs in the t-tops of the telephone poles

and in the branches of the two barren trees. In both instances the

cross associates with lifeless, motionless images. The crossed forms

of the tree branches consist of a series of X's which forge the origin

of the formal crosses occurring later. The cinematic function of

episode one, and episodes two and three as well, is to introduce the

cross--the central image for faculty--and then qualitatively replace the

form by the end of the episode with the arch. This replacement begins

to occur by way of the window woman's arching buttocks which obscures the

crossed form of the window frame.

The rectangular form is most apparent in the stone marker. The

form also occurs in the window frames of the town buildings, some of

which are lighted. The power of light to reveal the particulars of

images is literally and figuratively boxed in within the shot. The

narrator's fascination with the stone--a rectangular and masculine form--

reveals an identification. One of the functions of the shot is

identification, another preoccupation of the narrator's faculty.

The circular form is present in the wheels of the bicycles, and it

is the only moving form in the shot. The circle, a female form, is

governed by the women. The two who ride their bikes especially align

with the circle in a mechanically asserted form. The bicycles are

simple machines, and "machinery means a reservoir of power.5 In this

regard, the reservoir of power links to the moving female image with

which the Fellini imagination strives to unite. The moving images are

also self-propelled in a journey whose whereabouts are unknown. What

is important for Fellini's imagination is their activity, not knowledge

about their activity. As an agent of concomitance, the female image

has escaped the domain of the narrator's faculty.

The arch is also present in the second shot between the cyclists

and the stone marker. This small arch finds a complement in the back-

ground of the frame, namely the arching peak of the mountain. Suffice

it to say that the arch-seed and its complement grow from the earth.

The arch-seed, occurring between the circular wheels and the rectangu-

lar stone, gives way to the formal arch during the course of the

episode. The formal arch aligns with the activity of concomitance. A

merger of the circle and rectangle, this third form is instrumental in

giving birth to the boy's story. As a form that is open, its identi-

fication with the earth further stresses the nonmythic and unhistoric

power of Fellini's visual narrative whose ultimate drive is to affirm

itself within the world now,

The voice-over narrator continues to communicate information to

the movie viewer. He says,

The first Roman image I can recall is this one, a
mysterious stone eaten away by time, standing in a field
just outside my hometown.

As he speaks, the camera eye pans slightly to the right and zooms in on

the black stone. The camera has been occupied with a stationary long

shot up to this moment. The women pass in and out of view and the

camera eye does not follow them. It gets into the action by way of the

narrator's verbal cue. Like the priests in the slide show, the narrator

subordinates the black image to his method of faculty. He maintains

it. In its way, the stone shows the narrator's liking for the fixed

image whose value is historic. For him, the stone marker function

similarly to the sculpture of Half-head. In effect, it is the proto-

type for the sculpture, another piece of the portrait. On the other

hand, the camera eye spontaneously accepts the boy's contact with the

window cleaning woman. Moreover, the line of telephone poles, the

comment "just outside my hometown," the direction of the camera eye in

relation to the stone, and the stone itself, on which appear letters

and numbers--Roma Km 340 c.--all evince fixed qualities.

Events in the second shot totally cross each other. The voice-over

Fellini fixes the moment as thoroughly as he aligns himself with the

rectangular black marker and the Rimini of his past. As the shot

culminates in a crossed condition, the bleak atmosphere and frozen

scene serve to enhance the dilemma. The narrator begins his story of

Rome, of place, with images of another place. In this act and through

his words, he demonstrates his penchant for control, though he never

mentions, and thus cannot control, the moving images of the women.

They have moved forward to another arena, and their detachment from the

frame signals a beginning.

The camera eye in panning to the right goes with the right-ward

motion of the bicycles. There exists a tacit connection between them

which motion makes possible. The second shot establishes two of the


powers of concomitance--the camera eye and the moving female image--

which, due to the pervasive method of the narrator's faculty, cannot

achieve advance. The women move through the scene on their own power,

but the camera eye is trapped by the narrator's memory of his first

Roman image, the black marker, Seeking a potent image, the camera eye

is denied. It needs the power of a Fellini image and the narrator has

no image. The Fellini image engenders the dramatic drive of the

imaginative adventure and provides the camera eye with the potent

images that, in its medium, the camera eye thrives on.

The narrator's presence as an instrument of faculty in the second

shot does not allow for contact, though it is proper that he connect

with the word, a connection that doesn't propel growth, The vision of

Fellini's imaginative tripling grows from Fellini's images and their

power to generate new moments of excitement. In the second shot,

however, compressed in time, events are out of phase. They maintain

through the desire of the narrator's memory to reconstruct facts which

by themselves do not get involved in the adventure. When the camera

eye zooms in on and artificially expands the black monument, the

absorbing power of that image further dims the narrative thrust of light

to roll with its medium. As in the Half-head and slide-show sequences,

the Fellini imagination needs light. For Fellini, light is all that


So already in the opening shots, the drives, obstacles, and

conflict that emerge overtly in the drama of the Half-head, schoolroom,

and slide-show scenes are present and active. The female image,

necessary to the boy-Fellini's adventure in seeing, does not figure

centrally in the narrator's presentation. When the women leave the

shot, they take movement and the red color-power out of the scene. In

aligning himself with the black marker, the narrator acknowledges that

he values the known and not the present perception of the female images.

Their power, aligned with that of the bicycles, contributes to the

overall story of Fellini's imaginative tripling. Moreover, the

narrator begins his story in terms foreign to the movement and color

inherent in the medium of color movies. He identifies with a black

unmoving mass. Later in the first episode the narrator will shift the

focus of the movie to the attempts of the present-day Fellini to make a

documentary. The documentary leads to the image of the Colosseum,

which replaces the stone marker as a central image in the narrator's

portrait. Thus the first episode ends with the narrator's power of

faculty extant in the historic image of the Colosseum. But the

motorcycles in the ending shots of Roma retrospectively reveal the

importance of the bicycles and, consequently, the importance of the

women who ride them to engender a narrative origin in Fellini's imagina-

tive adventure.

The Boy-Fellini Chooses and the Camera Eye Connects;
Together They Liberate the Colorful Female

In accordance with the narrative pattern that prevails in the

events within the Half-head, schoolroom, and slide-show scenes and in

their sequential relation to one another, the opening shots are followed

by the Rubicon sequence in which a conflict between images and words

seeks to check the advance of the individual. The Rubicon sequence


involves the school boys, the head teacher, and the matron, who are on

an outing in the countryside near Rimini. The teacher and the matron,

the on-screen agents of faculty, attempt to keep the boys in order and

keep them silent. The camera eye shows the bespectacled teacher via a

"head" shot. He speculates that "this is where Ceasar crossed the

mighty Rubicon." The sequence introduces the boy-Fellini in Roma and

shows that he, like the female image in the second shot, initially

operates within the limits of faculty.

As the boys cross the stream, the teacher says, "To Rome." The

matron repeats his words. Though none of the boys completely crosses

the Rubicon, the cross condition dominates by way of the teacher's

narration of the boys' actions. His words control and "cross" the

interest of the boys. The boys are in phase with the second shot in

that their path across the stream turns into the frame, similar to the

path of the female bicyclists. Dramatic penetration continues. The

significance of "crossing the Rubicon" lies in its idiomatic function.

As an idiom, it means to start on a course of action, to make a begin-

ning, from which there is no turning back. The idiom applies to Caesar

in a moment in history. The action the boy initiates within the Half-

head sequence acquires a historic correlate, a legendary parallel.

Like Caesar, the boy begins on a course of action from which there is no

turning back. He starts in his own way, through his perception. He

has no strategy, as Caesar did. He seeks integration and mergence, not

separation, which marked Caesar's war activities against Pompey. The

boy is integrated with the movement of the female bicyclists. The

concomitance between the female image and the boy-Fellini begins as a


sharing of motion. The female image and the boy's image, through this

alignment with motion, initiate themselves in the medium of the movie.

For the boy the die is not cast. He makes no decision. He is in the

process of moving into the Half-head sequence and interacting with the

window cleaner's image,

The initial concomitance of the boy-Fellini, the window cleaner,

and the camera eye gives way to the act of genius which results from the

boy-Fellini's talent with the whore's image in the slide show. The

concomitance which happens during the slide-show sequence depends on

the existence of a Fellini image. In contrast, a deformalized con-

comitance is enacted in the bar sequence. The concomitant activity in

the bar occurs despite the format of opposition which structures the

bar sequence. In this regard, the bar sequence contains one of the

most intriguing events in the movie, In this larger scope of the

narrative action, in contrast to the dramatic focus on the boy-Fellini,

the human image will disclose its inherent power to enter into the

tripling process and will establish that concomitance is ultimately

clarified through the act of penetration.

The camera eye looks through a rainy window which obscures the

background, the inside of the bar. Behind the window stands Giudizio,

Rimini's village idiot. His image and the smoke from his cigarette

obscure seeing. There is a vertical divider at the center of the bar,

a visual cut of sorts. The camera eye moves inside to the right half

of the bar via a cut and shows the old actor from the Caesar play, He

is a black and white image, the agent of faculty in the sequence.


Opposition persists in the form of the bar itself, which cuts the frame

on a slight diagonal from right foreground to left-center background.

On the other side of the bar is the bartender. His expression reveals

his awe of the actor. In the background is the Roman standard, the

eagle. It maintains the presence of faculty in a historic sense,

similar to the She-wolf image. Rectangular forms frame or bar every

image in the shot. Little movement occurs. Affectedly, the actor

smooths the brim of his hat and sips a drink. That is the extent of

movement. It is as if the actor paralyzes the action with his

presence. His method for life, acting on the power of faculty, seeks

attention. What results from his search for attention is that he makes

himself a center around which action, verbal action, takes place. An

off-screen voice comments on the "real art" of the actor's portrayal of

Caesar. The actor is pleased that other images are subordinated to his

own. In the verbal hierarchy, he occupies a position of power, and he

flaunts it.

The other side of the bar creates another scene entirely. Human

images penetrate the frame. Something magical happens. When the woman

in the foreground moves--she turns in toward the frame and fluffs her

hair--her simple action sets off a spontaneous series of movements.

From the foreground to the background, eight male images perform

various movements. They carry on a visual ballet. In a less direct

manner, but similar to the schoolboys in the slide show, the men unite

to her image. They perform in response to her action. The contact

that the Half-head sequence and this shot disclose begins the

involvement of imaginative tripling as a living story in the world, a

story that reaches its evolutionary peak, for Roma, with the occurrence

of the motorcycles in the last shot of the movie.

The active side of the bar opposes the other. Moreover, it is

expanded by the wall mirror, though the mirror cannot lead to any

dramatic access. By way of the mirror, the two circular lamps "double

up" and create more light. The common images unite through their

movements. There is nothing to know about them. No title or special

achievement marks them as it does the aging actor. They do not promote

a hierarchy for action; they simply act. They are in phase with the

adventure in that the boy-Fellini and the female bicyclists show how

the journey first begins through an alignment of motion. The men in

the bar transform this association with movement in that they do not

parallel the movements of the bicyclists. Instead, the men move

freely and do not recapitulate the avenue for motion of the boy-

Fellini's image. Their individual contacts with the female image

establish that they are independent from, but narratively in tune with,

the boy-Fellini's adventure. The boy's contact with the window

cleaner's image introduces the power of penetration to the act of imagi-

native tripling. The men in the bar show how penetration is, for them,

a narrative given. The male image in the deformalized aspect of the

adventure is now free to initiate the power of talent. The unknown male

at the Trattoria in the young man Fellini's adventure in this episode

carries forward the talent phase in the deformalized story of imagina-

tive tripling. What becomes necessary is for Fellini to pay attention



to the visual spectacle of the bar and its narrative. Through perci-

pient involvement with the world, the free images in the bar advance

the moral imperative of action and thus declare every dependent

particular a participant in forging the world's successions.

The succeeding acts of the boy-Fellini's imaginative tripling take

place in the movie house where there is a revitalization of his interest

in images. In particular, the boy's search for the female is revivi-

fied. The movie house provides the boy with the most imaginative arena

for his quest. In addition, the sensory world of the bar and the

intellectual attitude dominating the Rubicon sequence are brought

forward within the movie house. The movie house repeats the sensory,

intellectual, and imaginative phases that the boy experiences in the

Half-head, schoolroom, and slide-show sequences.

The movie house scene begins with a dark handkerchief-like image

being withdrawn from the camera's eye. Immediately, the boy-Fellini

and the moving camera become "eyes." In fact, that is the boy's

function--he never says a word in Roma. As eyes, the boy and the camera

reveal different and united views. The camera eye focuses on showing

the boy looking around. The camera eye moves with the boy for the

remainder of this first phase of episode one, the boy's phase,

Inside the movie house "there's room for everybody." The exclusive

atmosphere of the bar and Rubicon sequences opposes and does not pertain

to the world of the movie house. The medium of movies includes every-

body and everything--everything has an image. Once inside the theatre,

the camera eye shares the boy's view of the movie screen. The shot


tilts and slants unusually. In this way it repeats the boy's view of

the window cleaning woman and brings forward his interest.

The boy's imaginative tripling is historically paralleled by way

of the faculty in the black and white movie--the fragmented story of

Messalina, the Christian Priscilla, and an unnamed man. The movie

introduces images whose setting corresponds to those slides of Rome's

landmarks the boy sees earlier. With the movie, history begins its

narrative contraction in Roma; it begins to lose its power to oppose

Fellini's imaginative story. Also, the depth element of verbal infor-

mation asserted in the second shot continues to lose its penetrative

value. Like the voice-over narrator who dwells in his own past, the

formal themes and their dramatic portrayals give way to the actual

story of Roma, which so far remains in the embryonic moments appropriate

for the boy's pristine eye.

Fellini's mother and father engross themselves in the movie, as do

others in the audience who obviously know something about Messalina and

the Christian Priscilla. But the boy seems unimpressed. He doesn't

interact with the movie's story. The movie furthers the connection

between Roman aristocracy and the Church, a connection which is main-

tained through history. The boy's imaginative drive is again trapped

by a medium foreign to him, one in which, like the schoolroom and

Rubicon sequences, he cannot assert his talent.

The movie ends when the unnamed man physically unites himself to

the Christian Priscilla. He chooses to interact with Priscilla's image

and not merely observe it. His involvement parallels the boy-Fellini's

involvement with the female image to this moment in Roma. Though the


boy and this man exist in exclusive media, their stories are similar.

The unnamed man is the new adventurer whose advance, like the boy's, is

inconsistent with the dramatic action in which he finds himself. The

arena in which the man performs is controlled by the aristocrats'

faculty, specifically Messalina's.

The unnamed man and the Christian Priscilla turn in toward the

frame and further establish concomitance as an activity which needs to

stay within the parameters of the frame. The man forsakes the "painted"

image of Messalina for the clean, stripped image of Priscilla, which at

this time aligns with the clean image of the new Church. He chooses the

new and actual over the old and historic. In this manner he and the

boy proceed similarly. Historically, however, the tripling that the

unnamed man involves himself in, by way of the control of aristocratic

and religious proponents of faculty, leads to separation.

The divisions of the movie's screen via spears, and the rectangu-

larity of the wall of the arena, continue those of Roma's second shot.

The She-wolf and the myth it engenders frame the arena in the outline

of wreaths across the arena's wall, forming the ears and eyes of the

She-wolf. As the unnamed man approaches the camera eye in his journey

toward Priscilla, there is a white out that smoke produces. The drama-

tic union, via the white-out, connects with a maximum amount of energy,

white embodying all color. The union is a perfect one. In its com-

pleteness, its value is to maintain a historic event which the movie

audience obviously sympathizes with. The movie reminds the audience of

the fruits of their Roman ancestors. While the re-enactment of the


historic union is associated with great energy, it also is associated

with the obscuring of vision and the cluttering of the surface-event,

the tactile merger of the man and Priscilla. The attempt at imaginative

tripling, emanating from legend and promoted in a black and white

medium, lacks the narrative and dramatic power to overcome the sanctions

of the Church and aristocracy. The Fellini image, on the other hand,

breaks free from these sanctions. It can only advance in the moving

color medium, not re-enact legend. In the union of the man and

Priscilla, there is an end: the end of the movie, the end of the

audience's experience with it, and the end of dramatic consequence, The

cross-form that the unnamed man makes with his arms upholds this sense

of an end. The man's cross-form signals that the faculty of the black

and white movie dominates his actions.

A newsreel follows the movie. The boy-Fellini is further stymied

by these current events pertaining to Mussolini, and it is during the

newsreel that the boy enacts his talent. Turning away from the newsreel

and involving himself with the audience, he sees a woman. He chooses to

interact with his medium and not observe it. Through the boy's talent,

a perceptual succession of passage through the past moment begins, The

voice-over narrator states that the woman is the dentist's wife and

that she is worse than Messalina. Similar to the boy's genius in the

slide-show sequence, wherever there is imaginative activity, there is

the stiffest opposition to creative advance.

The dentist's wife sits between two men, her husband and the man

she makes a sizzling pass at. The camera eye aligns with the woman,


and the boy-Fellini and the Fellinis' maid look at her. For the first

time, the female image unites with the camera eye. The red light of the

first shot appears in the particular, enhancing the female image as it

radiates from her red hair and lipstick. The boy chooses the living

color image over the black and white ones of the newsreel and brings

his adventure in imaginative tripling forward into the color world.

When a verbal narrator is present, the boy continues to opt for his own

method of visual interaction. Opposing the historic thrust of the

black and white movie and the current events of the newsreel, the boy

chooses to involve himself in history in the making. There is the

potential for new and undetermined action in the actual concomitant


Moreover, on his cap appear the words Regia Marina. In their

literal sense the words mean "royal navy." They also refer to one who

directs a movie. Even as a boy, Fellini fully aligned himself with

the movie making process. He actively directs the new adventure. What

interests him are the movements of the "likeable" image, the dentist's

wife. The moving color image makes contact with his own, something it

could only do in black and white in the Half-head sequence. A burst

of creative energy, a new moment of excitement and genius, follows that

contact. The boy performs an imaginative act. Suddenly, the dentist's

wife is in the back of an old car. The imaginative moment involves the

woman's sexual prowess. Outside the car seven men wait. She is eager

to accept them. The boy's imagination focuses on the power of indi-

viduals, sexual power and promised unions, and the potential power of


the machine. The imaginative love-making process that the boy enacts

carries over as the intrinsic process of the feat of imagination itself.

The imaginative act, taking place in a rural red setting, serves to

liberate the boy from the newsreel and the movie house, though he is

not present in the event. He and the camera eye remain outside the

action. His imaginative breakout of the female image lacks his actual

breakout and merger with the female image.

The second aspect within the imaginative event retains these re-

strictions. The dentist's wife performs an impromptu dance, itself an

art form. Around her sit ten men dressed in togas. Through the art

of her dance, through her motion, the boy liberates her from the role

of being the "dentist's wife." In so doing, the boy's act breaks free

from the narrator's faculty. The boy's genius becomes the driving power

in the adventure, not the narrator's faculty. The power of the female

image--she wears a sheer red low-cut dress to complement her hair and

lips--lies in her abilities to infect history with her existence.

Through her verbal identification with Messalina, this living

"Messalina" penetrates history with her vitality, and the dead past

comes alive through her color image. The imaginative act embodies the

historical particulars, in part, of the black and white movie. Visual

features from that movie, the only features the boy acts upon when he

watches the movie, aid the boy's escape. This is fitting. A historic

theme provides escape from present moments as it invigorates them.

The boy's imaginative drive breaks away from chronology. The boy's act

involves wholeness; it revitalizes through color and motion the fusion of

present and past so that they can succeed in the perceptual moment.


The woman's narrative performance is to function as a red "star," a

selected image growing out of the circle of other images impotently

surrounding her. As an on-screen parallel to the condition of the

camera eye and the boy, the male images are not active in this imagina-

tive moment. Her suggestive dance invites the boy and the camera eye,

and Roma's audience as well, to join her. Like her movie house image,

she performs for the camera eye and unites with it. In so doing, she

herself becomes the colorful theme of the boy's eye. She is the most

potent image to which the boy-Fellini unites. Energized by the red

female in its concomitance with the Fellini image and the camera eye,

the new adventure must expand to include the young man Fellini, who

provides the possibilities for its greater sophistication. Through this

phase in the movie, the boy has initiated the movie viewer in a new

story, one which asserts that "every detail is an opening on to a world

of its own.

Where the boy-Fellini and the camera eye were restricted in their

drives to unite with the female image in the schoolroom and slide-show

scenes, now they have become fully engaged in seeking the female image

in the movie house scene. The boy-Fellini's talent with the whore's

image has been transformed so that the dentist's wife red image is

centrally activated by the talent of the camera eye. The boy's absence

from his imaginative act is proper. His actual dramatic merger with

the red female would prove to be clumsy. Dramatically, her mature

powers would strip him of his talent. Fellini's adventure in imagina-

tive tripling, so far, on the strength of the boy-Fellini's dramatic

actions, has become the cinematic drive in Roma. Out of the alignment


of the boy-Fellini and the camera eye, the imaginative eye of the movie

has gained the power to advance the boy's dramatic drives beyond his

scope. Thus the imaginative eye will now move on to align itself with

the young man Fellini. Much the same as the dramatic limits the boy

places on the imaginative eye's adventure, the alignment in Rome of the

young man Fellini and the camera eye discloses that Rimini itself has

become insufficient as a place for dramatic action.

The Young Man Fellini and the Camera Eye Penetrate Rome

Shifting away from the boy-Fellini's world to the young man

Fellini's world of Rome, Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling

will gain the power of penetration. Unlike the schoolroom, slide-show,

and movie house scenes, the scenes in Rome will be noted by the fact

that the Fellini image can dramatically separate itself from proponents

of faculty and can function independently from the camera eye. The

concomitance of the young Fellini, the female, and the camera eye will

become a union based on a mutuality of interest but will not be mani-

fested until the second episode. Primarily, where the boy-Fellini

indulged in the physical powers of a female image, the young man has a

more discerning and critical eye. He wishes to explore the new Roman

images with, at this point in Roma, no desire to seek a union such as

the boy imagined. Being an outsider in Rome, the young Fellini's

naivete limits his visual adventure as far as the female is concerned.

His eye will undergo a breaking in period in Rome which his appearance

in the first episode makes possible. Later, in the second episode, the

young Fellini will unite with a female image and thus dramatically bring

forward the boy's imaginative drives. In addition, the camera eye,

independent from the young Fellini, will interact in a concomitance at

the Trattoria feast, away from the power of the Fellini image around

which the drama is still centered. It is the cinematic eye, then, that

will advance Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling in the upcoming

scenes in Rome.

In Rome, the second phase of episode one begins. Fellini, now a

young man, disembarks from the train. The cut which separates the boy

and the young man entails much that is new. Though thematically a

past moment, this past is not as removed from present-day actualities

as the boy's world. The move toward the present parallels the disolv-

ing presence of the formal mythic and legendary themes in Roma. The

problem the boy presents to the journey involves change and movement as

they enhance his imaginative escape from place, especially Rimini. The

young man's journey involves change and movement appropriate for the

imaginative individual who penetrates place, namely Rome. Penetrating

place, the young man seeks images of alive individuals, not images for

the narrator's portrait. The young man's white garb reveals him to be

a complete and innocent presence at Roma Termini, which in itself is

brighter and more colorful than any scene in Rimini. Compared to the

boy's drab and absorbing uniform, his suit radiates maximally. Quite

clearly, his image stands out at the station. Black for the boy-

Fellini, and later for the young man and present-day Fellinis, signals

the working out of imaginative drive, the making of a story. Black

denotes internal energy. When the human image is in black, the eyes,

facial expression, and hands--those bodily features which direct the

outward opening narrative pulses of an image--are highlighted.


White, worn only by the young man Fellini, indicates that a maxi-

mum amount of surface energy is present. With the boy's drive already

active in the movie, it is the job of the young man's image to perform

the deeds that the boy only imagines, that is, physically uniting with

the female and journeying to Rome. As an active "eye," the young man

is no different from the boy or the camera eye. The young man's task

is that of any image, which is to unite to other images.

As the spontaneous activity in the bar shows earlier, or as an

upcoming sequence in the feast evidences, it will become the task of

common male and female images to advance Fellini's new story. The

young man, just another image in Rome, discloses the openness of the

narrative of imaginative tripling by allowing his innocence and simpli-

city to act for him. Through these qualities, he shifts the viewers'

attention to the images surrounding him. He is, in effect, self-less.

Imaginative tripling, a story of creative change, professes a moral

imperative which declares the advance of involving action, an advance

that would not occur if any Fellini image exclusively controlled it.

Fellini's new adventure ultimately becomes an intrinsic performance of

life. This, in part, is what the journey of the motorcyclists reveals.

Like the boy-Fellini outside the movie house, the young man begins

his "tour" of Rome as nothing more than an alive eye in the sense-world

of the train station. Unlike the boy, the young man experiences life

outside. The train station sequence activates the "roadway" as a

penetrative avenue toward which images move. This penetration is a

step away from that of the second shot of the movie, though place


contains the roadway, and so far the story of place encloses the new

visual story of the individual.

There are a myriad of connective images which maintain the acti-

vities of the boy's world. The voice-over narrator further emphasizes

his power of faculty. He states that the fascists are in power. The

young man arrives in the city during a time of war. There are many

soldiers. In fact, one soldier presents the young man's image in

another light. This "young Fellini" appears dressed in uniform and

heading in the opposite direction from his own penetrative moves. In

this regard, the uniformed "Fellini" is the polar opposite to his white

existence. He is another possibility of the Fellini image at the train

station. There are also nuns and priests, and an unknown woman who

looks for someone. This female image, loosely aligned with the young

man's image, brings forward the possibility for concomitance. Though

she and the young man do not make contact, the seeds for Fellini's

imaginative tripling are present in Rome. The sensory world of the

train station occurs as another example of collective images which are

subsumed by the voice-over narrator's faculty. Emerging from this

world, the young man Fellini rides the trolley to the Paletta house.

The young man confronts ordered images on his way, but unlike the boy-

Fellini's clash with the priests in the slide show, the young man in

his penetration of Rome via the machine escapes the control of the

priests' ordered images and their faculty.

Where the young Fellini travels horizontally with the camera eye,

the group of priests in black uniforms and hats vertically climb the


steps of a church. The dramatic separation of the young man's story

and the story of the Church and its narrators stands out in a moving

context. It marks the further separation of his adventure from the

historic and mythic roots of Rome. The priests make the same She-wolf

ears and eyes form as the wreaths on the wall of the arena in the black

and white movie. Myth and the Church diametrically oppose the young

man's view and that of the camera eye.

The movements of the priests and the young man separate via the

cross-form. The tacit presence of the moving cross involves its

literal disintegration. The priests' vertical line (ascent) detaches

from the young man's horizontal line mergencee) and vice versa. With

this moving destruction of the cross-form, the arch gains power. Also,

the young man's power of talent is in motion. In this regard, he

exhibits a change from the boy-Fellini, whose eye mainly pans and

tilts, two rudimentary camera movements. The young man brings to the

adventure the sense of movement which seeks to track and pierce and

not, like the boy, escape--escape from Rimini, from family and school,

and from the provincial.

The young man, via the camera eye, sees a woman beating a rug.

Through a subjective shot, the camera eye also contacts her image.

Performing her task from a second story window, the female image this

time is revealed from the front; it has become more involved in the

action and succeeds the woman in the Half-head sequence. The relation-

ship of this female, the young man, and the camera eye establishes

concomitance as an event in Rome. The young Fellini begins his contact

with the female in alignment with the boy's first contact.


At the Paletta house the penetration of the female world begins.

Through the young Fellini, the power of penetration gains sophistica-

tion. As a free agent, free of family and school, the young man

naturally develops greater interests. For the first time in the movie

being inside constitutes more than one room in which everything happens.

There is more for the young man to see. Since this is the case, the

cut, itself a unit of motion,7 becomes an agent in the narrative and

dramatic advances of the young Fellini's actions. As the young man

journeys into the frame at the station, he does the same in the Paletta

household. In fact, as a surface creature in episode one, it is his

job to penetrate the frame.

To the left and right of the long hallway in the house are many

rooms that the young man and camera eye penetrate together and

separately. The maid, Anonietta, emerges from the hallway. She and

the young man penetrate the hallway together. The young Fellini and

the female image dramatically make contact; they flirt. The possibility

for a phase the boy imagines, here shows a possibility for climax.

The role of children in the Paletta house and in Rome is different

from their role in Rimini. In Rimini, the children went to school and

the boy participated in such formally structured events as eating

dinner and going to the movies. In Rome, the children play soccer and

other games. They also function as images which originally and spon-

taneously generate great amounts of energy. In one such outburst, one

of the Paletta children, a girl, asks Fellini if he wants to "see a

tiny granny." Fellini replies, "That is what I'm here for." He


acknowledges that he has come to Rome to see. He perpetuates the boy-

Fellini's creative visual drive. Following the little girl up a flight

of stairs, the camera eye shows the tiny granny through the young man's

subjective view. The few shots evince severe opposition. To the left,

the girl jumps up and down and yells while the grandmother, a black and

white image, sits and talks quietly. Indeed, the two are roughly the

same size. Thematically, youth opposes old age; the unindoctrinated

girl contrasts to the extremely religious grandmother. Excitation and

movement oppose passivity and near-stasis. Freedom opposes limitation.

The covered image of the grandmother contrasts to the short open dress

of the girl. Overall, the girl radiates while the grandmother absorbs.

Moreover, Fellini's strong image contrasts to the grandmother's weak

image. He and the girl similarly oppose the grandmother's image. The

girl's new life and the new life of the young man's eye emphasize the

grandmother's dull world which is dominated by images of order.

The young man is introduced to the mother of the house, an enormous

woman who must stay in bed because she has "bad ovaries." All the

qualities of the Paletta house merge in her. She warns the young man

that he must obey house rules. She says that her family is respected

and respectable and that there will be no kidding around. As the agent

of faculty, she confronts the young Fellini with the hierarchy in her

method of faculty. Her huge image, boxed in by numerous rectangular

forms--the room, the doorway, the bed--contrasts to the images of whores

in Roma. Unlike them, she cannot move. Her immobility and her inert

sexual capacities single her out as a female image which cannot enter


into a concomitant relationship. The camera eye zooms in on her as it

does the stone marker. She, too, is an image of place in the narrator's

portrait. Her son, overexposed to light--he has a sunburn--returns to

his mother in a kind of degenerative birth scene. As literally a sub-

stantial image, she carries not the delight and passion of the birth

event but instead its burden. In her, the creative life processes are

inverted. At the Trattoria, however, the camera eye will give birth to

the colorful female image that furthers Fellini's imaginative journey.

The birth takes place outside and is not restricted by the rectangularity

and decadent Florentine art surrounding the incapacitated mother of the

Paletta household. Foremost, the Fellini image now has access to the

outside, to the open. Unlike the boy-Fellini, whose only moments away

from the insides of rooms were guided by the school's teachers or were

bound by the school's playground fence, the young Fellini is fully

mobile. Able to act on the diverse energies of his imagination which,

among other things, lead him to the Trattoria feast, the young Fellini

has introduced a complexity to the drama that it earlier lacked. The

dramatic action itself in Roma will henceforth entail greater conflict

and tension than was overtly in evidence between the black marker and

the female bicyclists. Moreover, it was one matter for the priests to

block the boy-Fellini's talent with the whore's image, or for the boy-

Fellini's "movie" of the red female to halt because it lacked the

presence of a fully empowered male, but now the forces of Fellini's

imaginative tripling are complex enough and great enough to openly

oppose the narrator's quest for his portrait. With greater motion and

flexibility the young Fellini has directly focused the power of the


drama on the individual. Individual action has begun to take over from

the power of place and what, for the narrator, is the "story of a city."

Due to the young Fellini's ability to move, and to the freedom of the

camera eye, the narrative in Roma is openly polarized; it is now an

open-ended story in the sense that the central conflict between image

and word must be resolved narratively. Shortly, the present-day

director will emerge, With the presence of his image, over which the

narrator has greatest control, the conflict between the narrator's

faculty and the visual process of concomitance will be maximal, The

re-emergence of the young Fellini in the Barafonda Theatre scene in

episode two signals that his powers for action and penetration have not

been exhausted in episode one, On one hand, the narrator needs the

young man's image to thematically enter the past. On the other hand,

the young man may further engage in concomitance and thus expand the

experiential vistas of imaginative tripling. In episode two the young

Fellini's imaginative drives will be aligned with events in the Bara-

fonda Theatre scene which will disclose that concomitance has become

the leading narrative activity in Roma. In existing beyond the

narrator's temporary control, the young Fellini's image will bring

forward the cinematic importance of Fellini's imaginative tripling as

it functions in the open, away from the interiors of place.

The Imaginative Camera Eye and the Female Image:
Giving Birth to Color

Contrasting the inert and still-life qualities of the huge mother,

the Trattoria, or local feast, provides the occasion for the young man's

last performance in this episode. The arch-form of the road which cuts

through the feast aligns with the young man's penetrative enactments.

It also establishes the Trattoria as an imaginative arena. Called Via

Albalonga, this "long white way" unites the background and foreground

of the frame. The trolley cars travel this white way, creating the

existence of an open path for the journey of images. The fact that the

road is called "white" serves to enhance its function for a perfect

journey, an absolute penetration. In effect, the narrator's faculty

controls the roadway. No such penetration exists for Fellini's imagina-

tion. Since the white road leads to the unfinished background--the

unfinished set in a studio--penetration by a Fellini image of the

background would only make for an incomplete journey to another place.

Moreover, to journey there would be to maintain the separation of movies

and the world. Ultimately, there would be nowhere to go, and those who

made this perfect journey would end up making a realization about movie-

making and movies, about the journey, and about themselves. Fellini's

journey of imaginative tripling leads to vision and new modes of aware-

ness stemming from that vision.

The powers of this new mode of awareness occur at the feast. The

individuals at the feast dominate place. Since it is night, the

shadows and blacks and greys of the buildings yield to the color images

of the individuals. The colorful individuals vivify place as they

attract the eyes of the movie viewer, and in doing they diminish the

importance of place.

Overlooking the feast is the "Countess." Her subjective view of

the feast belies the wealth of activity therein. Several things happen

with the existence of her image. Foremost, the female does not identify


with a kind of work. The woman remains the enigmatic "Countess." With

the exception of her red lipstick, she is a black and white image.

Presumably, she is removed from the feast because of an argument with

her boyfriend, himself a black clothed image revealing the existence of

internal imaginative drive. Through their relationship, they bring

forward Fellini's imaginative adventure in renewing its basic union.

The man's ruddy complexion signals change for the process of concomi-

tance. The male image now promotes the red value of Roma's first shot.

The male, charged by love, advances chromatic power in the adventure.

Where before, the male image occurred in black and white, now it

furthers its existence as a color bearer within the medium of the movie.

The concomitant male and female images in the adventure can henceforth

open up to the fuller possibilities of the medium. The first task of

the colorful male is to get the "Countess" into the medium of the feast

where she ultimately becomes more "colorful" herself. The man gets the

woman to open up to the alive possibilities of their relationship and

the feast itself. His talent manifests in this act. Their smiles

acknowledge their liking of each other's images.

The feast evidences great energy. The Trattoria sequence brings

together the physical and sexual energies which occur in the movie up to

this moment. In this way it serves to focus these energies and allow

for their narration within a secular ritual, one that for Romans is

common. Love is the theme of the Trattoria, the theme of moving color

images: the love of gathering together, of eating, of meeting, of

singing, of quarreling, of re-uniting. It is important that the camera

eye feast on these images whose sweat and words, whose glances and

peculiarities reveal their thorough involvement in this actual past

moment. The image comes to the foreground of importance. Moreover, the

love of images provides the base for talent of a given Fellini image.

The young man loves the feast. Among other things, he likes the way the

blonde and the waitress make contact with his image. The women flirt

with the young man who is too naive to act out his powers of talent.

The camera eye, liberated by way of its indulgence in the concomi-

tant relation in the Trattoria, moves unattached through Rome, It

contacts the arch-form in an arching round tower. The arch is again

ready to give birth to Fellini's imaginative tripling. There is a

field. The camera eye pans from right to left. One car emerges from

the right and another drives into view from the left. To the right,

the field is irregular and the statues are missing various pieces:

arms, heads. To the left, the ground is smooth and the statues are

whole. A woman, who for a moment emanates from one of the car's lights,

moves to the foreground. She is an enormous whore who has come here

for a rendezvous. Her black hair and short tight black dress make her

red lips and red shawl stand out. She is the moving female image that

qualitatively advances the powers of the images of the whore and the

dentist's wife. The camera eye has found her in this raw natural

setting. Unbound, she lacks restrictions, In its position of power,

the camera eye zooms in and the whore's enormity further radiates, The

female image is the new moment of excitement amid the literal and

classical ruins, and for a moment it masters place. The promise of

concomitance heightens. Through convergence in the perspectival

foreground, an inverse perspective the car lights form, Fellini's


imaginative tripling is imminent. The whore looks over her shoulder in

the direction of the other car. The shot fades out. Like the man at

the feast, the camera eye establishes a relationship with the female

image. The cinematic eye is now fully active in the concomitant rela-

tionship, and it needs only the associative existence of the Fellini

image to succeed. It is the camera eye, the narrative agent of Fellini's

imagination, that creates the transfer of concomitance involving the

Fellini image to the informal concomitance involving common images.

The cinematic eye's genius leads to the penetrative capabilities of the

present-day Fellini.

The Present-Day Fellini and the Colosseum:
The Camera Eye Connects with an Insufficient Image

The bright light from the ensuing shot pops open the viewers' eyes.

The cinematic eye's genius makes the explosion possible. For the first

time in Roma, Fellini explores the present. The horizontal arrangement

of the toll booths signals the complete turning of the angle of communi-

cation as an event connecting two unseen and off-screen realms. The

voice-over narrator states that "thirty years and more have passed since

that marvelous evening." He introduces an image of himself, the present-

day Fellini, and his film crew. With this image of Fellini, the third

phase of episode one begins. The voice-over narrator's presence marks

the scene as a past-present one. The present visual moment occurs in a

just-past sense of time. The activity does not take place in the actual

now. It is not a moment of present perception. Fellini's blacked out

image reveals the forward working of imaginative drive. His drive is to



gain entrance to the actual, to Rome, and to unify itself with a moment

of excitement.

For the first time it is apparent that Fellini is attempting to

make a documentary, which for the voice-over narrator becomes an

aesthetic exercise in faculty. The documentary seeks to render a lesson

in fact, but as is already evident in Roma, the merely factual does not

get involved in the imaginative adventure. The documentary must

necessarily seek the factual element in images, since the narrator is

bound to his initial goal, a portrait of Rome. The present-day Fellini

makes many contacts and he desires to contactually fix Rome within its

historical frameworks. Thus he seeks out the place itself. The high-

way scene is a journey toward place which ends the first episode.

Under the narrator's directions and through the present-day

Fellini's directions to his camera crew, the penetration of the city

begins. With all his powers of control as a director, the present-day

Fellini sets out to explore the interior of the frame. The roadway

establishes the way into the frame that the three bicyclists in the

second shot of the movie suggest as tacit possibility. The communica-

tive and visual "lines" have turned together in this episode.

The cars and buses head toward a soccer game between Rome and

Naples which foreshadows what becomes the full-blown power of opposition

which is present in the end of the episode. The present-day Fellini

rides in one car, the huge camera with its four-foot lens is mounted on

the truck, and the verbal narrator oversees the action from off-screen.

Once the truck begins moving, the verbal narrator yields to the action

that, at the outset of the highway scene, he overtly controls.

Opposition occurs in the dis-union of Fellini's eye and that of the

documentary camera. This dis-union destroys the integrity of the

documentary and its lesson, which in part purports the legend that "All

roads lead to Rome," and that the super-highways surrounding Rome

surround her like Saturn's rings. What prevails from these verbal

documents is the voice-over narrator's claim that the city is connected

with perfection and eternity, with historic prominence. Though much of

the journey is shown through the documentary camera eye, Fellini's

vision remains separate from it. At one moment in the journey, Fellini

and the documentary camera move in opposite directions. This activity

attests to the division of the split forces of the verbal and visual

powers. With his own camera operating--he does not drive the car--

Fellini brings another view to the scene and furthers the internal

imaginative control of Roma, a control which his eyes initiate.

As the documentary camera eye proceeds on its journey, it focuses

on some tanks and a long canvas-covered form. The canvas-covered form

is the miller which penetrates the Roman house at the end of episode

two. Fellini's imagination, through its contact with these images,

provides for advance. All of the machinery present on the way to Rome,

as well as the documentary camera, engenders a reservoir of power. Not

only are these machines reservoirs of power, they also locate reservoirs

of power. Specifically in the case of the enormous lens, the miller,

and the huge furnace, the machine leads the way to imaginative power

reserves that Fellini will tap later.

Shortly into the journey, night sets in and a storm begins. The

natural atmosphere opposes the visual penetration of Rome. The


prominent male and female on the camera truck set off flares to illumine

images in the darkness. The man and woman serve to keep alive a possi-

bility for concomitance. The flares' lights illuminate the arching

round tower that occurs earlier, before the shots of the whore in the

field. The arch-form unifies past and present, and the young man and

present-day Fellinis, through place. The arch-form is embedded into the

end of episode one, along with the male and female images aboard the

camera truck. In this way the power of phase in the adventure can

germinate within the red light emanating from the small arches of the


The progression of movement halts, and the camera eye must begin to

penetrate its surroundings from a fixed center. Considering the advance-

ments the camera eye has made by this phase of the journey, its power

is significantly reduced. In the darkness and the storm, the camera

eye searches out depths. Through focus shifts, the eye penetrates its

surroundings. The surface event remains obscured, shielded, and

glossed. The qualities marking the beginning of the episode continue.

The camera eye seeks interiors of cars within the impressionistic scene.

The faces on the images in the cars reveal emotions and hence a psycho-

logical depth. The emphasis of these shots is to discover, not to

integrate. The temporary bypass away from the adventure of individuals

shows the complete power of the narrator's faculty and his claim that

Roma is the story of a city.

The process of penetrating Rome becomes the process governing the

visual power of the camera eye, namely that of breaking in. This act

contradicts the power of images as surface-events. An image has no


interior; it simply radiates light. In a way, these shots of cars are

a recapitulation of the first shot of Fellini's 8 1/2, whose movie

director protagonist, Guido, spends the entire movie breaking away from

interiors. In part, the way that Guido, too, breaks free is to make a

movie about making a movie. In the end of 8 1/2, Guido's movie directs

itself as he becomes just another image. The vision of 8 1/2 is in its

way a prototype for Roma. But Fellini's imaginative tripling in Roma

involves breaking away, not breaking into. The first episode itself

serves to break into the historic and the traditional.

Shortly before the last shot of episode one, a young man appears

from the background of the frame and runs toward Fellini's camera eye.

He makes contact with the imaginative eye promoting the story of the

movie. He wears a slicker with its hood pulled over his head. He also

wears glasses and his face is covered, from the eyes down, with a white

mask-like cloth. This common image is the one that initiates the

adventure's fresh action into the closing shots of each episode. As he

has run into view, he quickly retraces his path and disappears. In

this episode, he maintains the penetrative avenue leading into the


With the last shot of the episode, events reach a literal halt.

The image of the Colosseum, in front of which is an enormous traffic

jam, complements the reduced power of the camera eye. The imaginative

eye zooms in on the Colosseum as it does on the stone marker. The

narrator has succeeded in getting his image of place. To the right of

the Colosseum is a roadway bending around and into the frame. Bordering

the road is a string of single arched lights. Red light backlights the


many arched windowways of the Colosseum. Occurring in the past-present

moment, red and the arch associate with an historic and constructed

event. Red, which illumines the surface of the movie's first shot,-

emanates from a depth. The value of red is contained by place. The

imaginative camera eye makes contact with the red light and the

initiating power of the adventure remains active.

The image of the Colosseum, as the genius loci for Rome, evinces a

culmination of value and action regarding the movie's major theme,

Fellini and Rome. The documenting camera eye is stranded inside the

frame in the shot. Since the action occurs outside its view, the power

of aspect in the scene maintains the splitting of narrative drive. The

imaginative point of view subsumes the verbal point of view of the

narrator's faculty. The blockage surrounding the monument gives way to

a sense of possibility in the form of the empty lighted roadway. The

documentary entrance to Rome is completed within itself. The lighted

roadway provides an unobstructed view. The road suggests that the

journey is incomplete, and that the Colosseum is an insufficient image

for the advance of Fellini's imaginative tripling. As a fixed image,

the Colosseum blocks the drive of the imaginative camera eye to find a

female image.


Isabel Quigley, trans., Fellini on Fellini (New York: Delacorte
Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1976), p. 165.
The camera eye is also the protagonist in Stanley Kubrick's 2001:
A Space Odyssey and Chaplin's The Tramp, to cite further examples. It
is even the clumsy interloper in The Lady in The Lake.

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The
Macmilland Company, 1929), p. 52.

Michael Cimino, in directing The Deer Hunter, performs this feat as
he allows rite, as a grand thematic event, to preside over the interplay
of dramatic actions, those of Mike, Nick, and Stevie, and also those of
any given individual who performs in a ceremony. Throughout the movie
the individual liberates himself only in so far as he functions well in
the structure of a ceremony: the wedding, the Russian roulette game,
the hunt, etc. Consequently, the individual, especially Mike and Nick,
never achieves his freedom. The various ceremonies in the movie require
that the individual act nobly within their formats. In part, this is
what the movie attempts to teach the viewer. Moreover, it is the
individual who comes to understand, to one extent or another, his commit-
ment to and limitations in these ceremonial arts. The last shot focuses
on Mike's acceptance of the song and the toast. His survival as an
agent of rite means that he has seen how formal structures can limit
individual power--they can maim, kill, or even worse they can subvert
individual drives--but he finally lacks the power to shed his attachment
to them. He remains a man who inside is stripped of his motivating
force, his imagination, and who has vowed to keep the promises of his
friends, thus preserving the essential core of ceremony which emanates
from the word.

John Dewey, Individualism Old and New (New York: Capricorn Books/
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1962), p. 96.

Quigley, p. 104.

Dr. W. R. Robinson. Personal communication, April, 1975.




The sense of advance, of penetration, is essential to sustain
interest. Also there are two types of advance. One is the advance in
the use of assigned patterns for the coordination of an increased
variety of detail.

But the assignment of the type of pattern restricts the choice of
details. In this way the infinitude of the universe is dismissed as
irrelevant. The advance which has started with the freshness of sunrise
degenerates into a dull accumulation of minor feats of coordination.
The history of thought and the history of art illustrate this doctrine.
We cannot prescribe the pattern of progress.

It is true that advance is partly the gathering of details into
assigned patterns. This is the safe advance of dogmatic spirits, fear-
ful of folly. But history discloses another type of progress, namely
the introduction of novelty of pattern into conceptual experience. In
this way, details hitherto undiscriminated or dismissed as casual
irrelevances are lifted into coordinated experience. There is a new
vision of the great Beyond.
Alfred North Whitehead
in Modes of Thought

Is it Cathay,
Now pity steeps the grass and rainbows ring
The serpent with the eagle in the leaves. ?
Whispers antiphonal in azure swing.
ending of the "Atlantis" section
in Hart Crane's The Bridge

The Gigolo, the Tourist, and the Imaginative Camera Eye
Bring the Adventure Forward

". decadence is indispensable to rebirth." The shot of the

Colosseum at the end of episode one in Roma, a historic image of Roman

times--a complement to the landmark slides earlier--embodies the history


of Roman culture with its senators and kings, its laws and philosophy,

its spectacles and feasts. It is precisely this history and culture

which cannot sustain the story of imaginative tripling emanating from

Fellini's imagination. The inability of the Colosseum, narratively, to

empower further the new visual adventure is asserted with the fade out

of the shot. The most the Colosseum can do as an image is, historically

and thematically, to signal decadence as a necessary element in the

imaginative rebirth which comes to the center of things at the end of

the second episode in Roma. Moreover, as the Colosseum is a fitting

image for the portrait of Rome, the voice-over narrator's faculty is

indispensable to the rebirth of imaginative tripling. His power of

faculty provides a barrier beyond which Fellini's imaginative tripling

may leap. Similar to the boy-Fellini in the formal schoolroom, his

latent drive ready to break free from the traditional story of faculty

enacted in the slide show, the concomitance of male and female images

and their relationship to the camera eye in episode two will come to

supersede the decadent and "frozen" image of the Colosseum.

Replacing the poorly-lighted Colosseum shot is a bright, clear,

and sharp one. In it the documentary camera eye moves upward. This

eye documents the trident image of a tall tree. With the existence of

this image the further assertion of the crossed condition, which begins

each episode, is manifested, But there is a difference. Before, the

branches of the two surrealistic trees pointed upward, forming X's. Now

the cross-form has blossomed from its earlier appearance. This tree is

alive; its branches support much greenery. Occupying the center of the

frame, the green tree dominates the shot in a manner that the


surrealistic trees of the second shot of the movie lacked. In moving to

the center of the frame, the cross-form re-establishes the angle of

division present in the horizontal direction of verbal forms in the

movie. The crossed condition has no penetrative power as it did in the

second shot of Roma via the t-tops of the telephone poles. In occupy-

ing the center of the frame in the opening shot of episode two, however,

the cross will offer stiffer resistance to Fellini's creative advance

than anywhere in the movie. The resistance is specifically apparent

when the narrator focuses on his youthful past in the re-creation of

the Barafonda Theatre. He crosses the present-day activities by

stopping their potential in order to thematically enter the past. In

addition, the cross-form again attests to the division of forces in the

movie, to the split between the verbal and visual narrative powers,

and their claims, tacit and apparent, over the outcome of Roma.

In tune with the split narrative drive present in the movie, the

documentary camera eye's view begins the second episode, whereas the

imaginative camera eye's view prevailed at the end of episode one.

Where the documentary eye was stranded motionless within the frame

outside the Colosseum, now it has gained movement. Also, the docu-

mentary eye does not initially need the narrator's cue for its movement,

as it did when the narrator declared the black stone marker of conse-

quence. In its way, the documentary eye is aligned with and moves

toward images for the narrator's portrait. Moving above the green

tree, the camera eye documents the existence of Rome, which lies far in

the background, but it does not advance the journey in the strict sense;


it doesn't turn with the image before its eye, such as the imaginative

eye did when the boy-Fellini revealed his talent during the slide-show


The adventure in Fellini's imaginative tripling carries on by way

of the images of Fellini's principal male and female production workers,

Maya and Papino. Their task is to document the adventure, to serve as

intermediaries in the journey. They advance the present-day Fellini's

search for a female image of Rome. They begin their work in the highway

scene at the end of episode one where they, too, make the journey to

the center of the frame, or to the Colosseum. Accordingly, they are in

phase with the three Fellinis that provide the central images for

advancing the movie's plot.

The two red "buckets" which support Papino and Maya and the docu-

mentary camera at the top of the dolly are aligned with the color-power

of the journey. Like the boy-Fellini and young man Fellini, Papino is

united with the camera eye's view. For Papino, however, the union is

overt, though it ultimately exhibits a closed vision because it is

controlled by the documentary qualities of the narrator's portrait.

The vibrant redness surrounding Papino and Maya reveals their narrative

involvement in the story of imaginative tripling. Moreover, though they

aren't going anywhere, they bring forward the visual attitude which

highlights the quality of narration that the boy and young man achieve.

Like the boy-Fellini entering the movie house or the young Fellini at

the Trattoria, Papino and Maya are also "eyes." Leading to a more

critical vision, their overt visual powers will provide the adventure

with qualities it has so far lacked. The importance of these overt

powers will come to the fore in the ending scenes of episode two.

The severe angle of the narrative thrust in Roma between the

imaginative and documentary camera eyes rapidly surfaces. The imagina-

tive camera eye splits away from the documentary one and looks at the

documentary camera and Papino and Maya via an extreme tilt shot. With

this division comes the off-screen direction of the present-day Fellini.

When the imaginative eye looks up, the director says, "Papino, tell me

what you see." Papino tells him that there is a tourist bus within his

view. He asks if Fellini wants him to pan and follow it and Fellini

answers yes. Similar to the journey into Rome in the end of episode

one, Fellini continues to relate to the documentary view through verbal

means, whether by car radio-microphone or by bull-horn. He commands

the camera operator to do one thing or another. As a voice, he

functions in the same manner as the voice-over narrator. Through his

faculty, he controls the present-day images the way the narrator

controls the movie to this point,

The tourist bus brings its female passengers from the background

of the frame to the foreground. This movement toward the imaginative

camera, which has now taken over from the documentary eye, and toward

the eye of the movie viewers contrasts with the opening long shot of

Rome. The narrator's portrait of Rome requires grand images, whereas

the adventure in imaginative tripling needs the power of moving color

individuals whose power must be revealed close up. Accompanied by the

renewed power of machinery, of the bus, Fellini's imaginative adventure

is literally brought forward. Having interceded in the documentary

view of Rome, the imaginative eye seeks out the images of the women.

Now free to initiate concomitant activity, the camera eye makes contact

with one of the women. Joining in her interest in an off-screen image,

the eye also makes contact with a man coming toward her. The man, who

is a gigolo, and the woman meet out of coincidence. They disclose that

the adventure continues to succeed by way of perceptual advancement in

the present moment, not by any predetermined or causal structures,

Their mutual contact of each other's images presents a step forward in

the concomitance of male and female. Now they are ready to explore the

sensual powers of each other. Their meeting expands the potential of

the union of the male and female at the Trattoria feast. Moreover, the

gigolo and the woman meet in the daytime, when the full details of their

images may present themselves to the eye. The man and woman at the

Trattoria, besides being bound up in a formal relationship within a

formal gathering which was enclosed by Rome's buildings, re-established

their union at night through primarily verbal means. Also, the tourist

is an active element in her relationship with the gigolo. The female

at the feast was passive and had to be literally drawn to the feast and

to her boyfriend by the little girl.

Through the primacy of their visual interest, the female tourist

and the gigolo attend each other. The camera eye again promotes the

merger of the colorful male and the subdued female. The gigolo, a man

in his thirties, moves toward the older woman. Using his eyes and his

ability to move, he finds her. He jumps over a small fence and joins

her on her ground. He includes himself in her visual arena, the park.

The gigolo smiles. He likes this woman's image, her mature power, and

the promise of their meeting; and through his smile, in part, he

advances the journey. His black pull-over traps his reddish brown skin

and allows that the male image still embodies internal imaginative

drive. The male image continues to be aware of its ability to narrate.

In contrast, the tourist accepts the overtures of the gigolo. Unlike

his, the woman's image is pale. Her pale skin and her clothing and

scarf reveal that, for her, clothing is a restriction, in a similar

manner that her lack of skin color reveals her restricted interest in

the outdoors, in the chromatic world. The male image continues to

have the power to draw the female out into the world, to get her involved

in the journey. The female image has not yet become a color bearer

when clearly Fellini's adventure in imaginative tripling in Roma needs

color to achieve phase within the possibilities of the medium and of

the world. Moreover, the woman's age--she is perhaps in her late

fifties--signals her waning physical vitality. But like the female

images in concomitance before her, her smile both announces her and

indicates her contribution as a mature image in Fellini's activity of

imaginative tripling. Further, she is a tourist, that is, one who

"turns." It is only natural that her image have the power to turn with

the image of the gigolo.

The gigolo, through his vital and radiating image, literally fills

up her eye with his color and his smile. Her red lips disclose her

alignment in the narrative possibilities of the adventure. The gigolo,

the woman, and the imaginative eye bear the visual journey forward.

Their concomitant activity readily shows that the adventure continues

to deformalize. Where Papino and Maya document the existence of a


promise for concomitance, the gigolo and the tourist act out the new

story and further deformalize Fellini's imaginative tripling. Beyond

the voice-over narrator's control over his own images, beyond the

director's control over Papino and Maya, the merger of these common

images seeks its freedom in the green park.

The gigolo establishes the freedom of the male image at this moment

in Roma to move the adventure forward. His talent, unlike the boy-

Fellini's or young man Fellini's, overtly couples with the narrative

processes within the movie's medium. When the woman hands the gigolo

the camera so that he can take her picture--the gigolo says suggestively,

"It is a pleasure to take a lovely woman like you."--he unites with the

camera eye. The male's talent may now initiate a journey toward the

world of perceptually immanent action. More than enforcing the fact

that the male seeks to "take" the female image--to make the female in

phase with the processes of motion and color--the gigolo's action,

aligned with the power of the camera, discloses a basic narrative

impulse, a creative awareness. In taking the camera, the gigolo loses

his image. Thus he becomes a creative eye, free to merge with a world

of images on the strength of its primary union with the woman's image.

The merger happens when the expectations of the "picture" defuse. When

the woman poses for the picture, freezing temporarily her image and her

coy smile, the imaginative eye, conjoined with the gigolo's, takes over

and pans from left to right toward the park. As a creative "documen-

tary," this new alignment of visual powers, springing from its "tour" of

the tourist's image, fuels the adventure in vision. Fellini's narrative

in imaginative tripling carries on with its visual penetration of the


green park and of the physical activity occurring there. The multiply-

endowed eye enters into a creative search for a moment of genius; in

the world of the park it seeks transcendence for its new-found exis-

tence. Within the framework of the green field, moving color images

enact the story of the human spectacle in the perceptual present,

beyond any encroachment of the documentary, beyond any verbal control.

The rebirth of Fellini's imaginative tripling declares its importance

over the decadent image of the Colosseum and over the distant image of

Rome in the first shot of the second episode. In addition, the

greeness of the park revitalizes the story of the color individuals

within the park, unlike the green trident tree whose form and color

obscured the view of the documentary camera eye.

The Present-Day Fellini at the Villa Borghese:
The Imaginative Eye Seeks a Potent Union

Despite the newly formed concomitance of the gigolo and the

tourist, the voice-over narrator's method of faculty clearly opposes the

advance of individual action. The cinematic drive toward the imagina-

tive activity within the green park is halted. The narrator joins

himself to the scene when the camera eye shifts its view to the image of

the present-day Fellini. Fellini and his film crew are filming at the

Villa Borghese. Inherent in this location is conflict. The voice of

youthful revolution, the student protest near the end of episode one

declares itself against Borghese power. The themes of place and aris-

tocracy are here tacit examples of opposition which descends from the

Caesar legend and the history of Rome as it is embodied in the image of

the Colosseum. The conflict inherent in the history of the aristocracy

and of place survives here in the present-day drama. Thematically,

formal conflict yields to the everyday conflict of ideas expressed by

the old Roman and the youths, themselves opposition of experience.

The narrator enters the flow of action as an explainer, mediator,

and clarifier of the images. He introduces the old Roman as one "who

is as jealous of Rome as if she were his wife." The man fears that

Fellini will show Rome in a bad light, that the documentary will not

include historic profiles or monuments. The old Roman is an image of

present-day history and its attitudes on life and the documentary.

Opposing the old Roman are the students. They want Fellini to show

their problems and those of industrial workers in his documentary.

These old and new present-day advocates confront Fellini. He stands

between them. The narrator delights in the documentary moment, saying

that he can't even solve his own personal problems. He asserts a

verbal moral. He says, "We all do what we're able to do." This pragma-

tic statement does not seek to solve the conflict; it focuses the

documentary on the formal problems the narrator faces in composing his


The present-day Fellini picks up the action when he asks Papino

what he sees. The documentary camera focuses on the Barafonda Theatre,

an off-screen image. The theatre's value is limited to verbal infor-

mation, and communication continues as a dominant element in the

beginning of the second episode. In addition, when the documentary

camera returns to the ground, it pivots so that it nearly focuses

directly on the imaginative camera eye, signaling the opposed views of

the two eyes. This opposition maintains the crossed vision that occurs

at the outset of episode two when the documentary camera eye unites

with the trident tree, whereas the imaginative eye is detached from the

crossed condition embodied in that cross-form. At the Villa Borghese

the documentary eye thwarts the penetrative vision of the imaginative

eye. To advance into the interior of the frame, the voice-over Fellini

performs a re-creation. With the polarized alignment of the camera

eyes and the verbal documentation of the off-screen existence of the

Barafonda Theatre, the action seemingly reaches a temporary impasse,

Then the narrator joins the action, He states, "Here, for example, I

would like to re-create a typical evening in the small variety theatre

as it was thirty years ago at the beginning of the war." The present-

day action progresses no further. The documentation of events and the

promise of adventure that the gigolo and the tourist embody give way

to the past. Thematic interest surfaces. The past opposes the

present; the old encroaches on the new; a time of war succeeds a time

of peace. The re-creation short-circuits the possibility for action in

the present-day to yield to the perceptual now. The imaginative eye

must "document" a re-creation; its function, to explore a true historic

moment in the narrator's past, derives from the factual qualities

surrounding the present-day moment.

Thus faculty invades episode two as a structure. The narrator, as

a mind in the process of succeeding degeneratively, exerts his passion

for the control needed to bring into being his portrait of Rome. The

narrator sees the movie as a representation of Rome. By the end of

episode one, he has been effaced from the drama. His effacement is

proper in that the image of the Colosseum is itself a portrait of Rome.


There is no need for verbal narration and maintenance. The narrator's

power of faculty is extant in that frozen image. As history is his

concern at the beginning of Roma, it is equally manifested in the image

of the Colosseum. Like the stone marker--the first image he can

remember-- the Colosseum occurs as the new stone monument. It is more

grandiose and colorful, more intricately structured, and more

thematically and historically endowed. The image of the Colosseum

serves his purposes well, It exists as the popular symbol of tradi-

tional rome.

The narrator, in stating that his story has no plot or characters,

is confident that he can establish a new model within the confines of

tradition consisting of literary ancestors. He is aware of certain

conventions which are intrinsically foreign to movies when he makes his

opening remarks. There is no way to conventionalize the power of images

to yield narrative value unless they are controlled by a preceding

pattern of action. One such pattern in Roma is the documentary; another

is the thematic presence of historic and mythic images of Rome. But

clearly the visual adventure of the gigolo, for example, transcends

such control and manipulation. Fellini's imaginative tripling exists

as a new activity in the world. Its roots lie in The Clowns and earlier

in The White Sheik.

Where the narrator begins in Roma on a note of pure memory--"the

first Roman image I can remember"--he now gains access to the past by

way of an unseen but present-day image. Pure verbal memory, which leads

to the reconstruction of an image, has given way to the abundance of

imagery in front of the documentary camera eye. For the narrator this


marks a moment of degeneration. He now needs another kind of image to

fuel his limited vision, his selective first-person point of view. He

takes his cue from Papino's sighting of the Barafonda Theatre. For the

narrator, the documentary itself is a re-creation which has faculty

structures. His goal is to render the re-creation perfectly: ". a

typical evening in the small variety theatre as it was thirty years

ago. .i

Moreover, the successive degenerations of his verbal control will

yield to images as he mediates less and less as the movie progresses.

The narrator's method of linking static realms of activity can be called

narrative doubling,2 since he proceeds from kind or genus. In dealing

with a type of movie or kinds of images, he doubles or mirrors them

through the medium of language. And in Roma this is precisely the

control that images, specifically the moving color images which achieve

concomitance within the process of Fellini's new imaginative journey,

consistently refuse. Due to the narrator's attempts to paint a portrait

of Rome, the visual adventure still seeks its freedom and its own actual

arena. The concomitant drive of moving color images will assert itself

during the Barafonda Theatre scene.

The Red Male and the Blue Female:
The Cinematic Eye's Method of Conjunction

Though the gigolo, the tourist, and the cinematic eye bring forward

the concrete story of individuals whose power overshadows images of

place, their adventure exists in between the conflict generated by the

documentary view of Rome which begins the second episode and the

polarization of the documentary and imaginative eyes which ends the

opening segment of the episode. In this regard episode two mirrors

episode one in that concomitant action is perpetually bordered by the

narrator's method of faculty and by images for his portrait. The

impact on the movie of the concomitant energies in the opening segment

of the second episode surfaces immediately during the Barafonda Theatre

scene. Concomitant adventure begins and ends the events in the theatre.

Despite the fact that the narrator's method of faculty structures

episode two, Fellini's imaginative tripling will continue to take over

the drives of Roma within individual scenes and will displace the power

of the narrator's portrait by literally containing it. This method of

conjunction, while pertaining to interior dynamics in episode two, will

establish the process of creative control that Fellini's imaginative

tripling comes to gain and will pervade episode three as a narrational

impulse which guides events within that episode as well as the episode


In the Barafonda Theatre scene the first image the imaginative

camera eye joins itself to is the man who parts his spread-crossed

fingers from in front of his face. The successor to the gigolo, this

performer begins the theatre proceedings by actively removing the

crossed condition which blocks his face and his view of the audience.

In so doing, he opens up the details of his image so that the camera

eye may fully contact them. In keeping with the movement away from the

crossed condition, the cross-form is here in the process of


The close-up of the man's face reveals the closeness of the

imaginative eye and his image. Much the same as with the gigolo in the


opening scenario of episode two, the camera eye continues to move closer

to human images involved in Fellini's imaginative adventure. The eye's

close contact with the human image presents a growth away from a focus

on images of place and inanimate images earlier, such as the stone

marker, Half-head, the sculptures on top of Rome's architecture, shop

signs, the Colosseum, and Rome itself. Moreover, the camera eye moves

closer to the particulars which advance Fellini's narrative in imagina-

tive tripling, such as the smile and the redness of the male image up

on the stage. The camera eye moves progressively further away from,

and regards with lesser value, the legendary images and other images

whose importance does not figure centrally in the principal journey.

After sloughing off the cross-form, the red male on the stage acts

on his power of talent. Moving with a woman to the center of the stage,

he then stands behind her. He holds her small cap to which a veil that

covers her image is attached. In removing the woman's veil, he reveals

her blue shorts and bra-type top. As an extension to the boy-Fellini's

quest to seek out the stripped images of the whore and the dentist's

wife, the red male now activates the power of the stripped image. He

unleashes her image so that it may engender contact. Moreover, using

his talent further, he leads the woman in a dance and together they

explore the art of movement. Their colorful costumes show the dramatic

change from the conditions of the gigolo's and tourist's images. For

the first time in Roma, the adventure promotes co-existing qualities of

color and movement, and has an identification with art, specifically

the art of theatre.


Occurring at the center of dramatic action, with the camera eye

interacting with their images via a medium shot, the male and female

establish Fellini's imaginative tripling as the central narrative

concern in the theatre. The red male, who begins the theatre scene and

thereafter becomes involved in a more advanced concomitance, is aligned

with the red of Roma's first shot. In addition, the red backdrop of

the stage complements the concomitant birth of the male and female.

Foremost, the red backdrop is also connected with the movie's first

shot. The backdrop, depicting the great barren plain, radiates light-

energy. Its vastness suggests penetration. The horizontal composition

of telephone poles on the backdrop reasserts the power of communication

as being split away from the penetrative capabilities of the moving

color image. The angle of division between the visual and verbal powers

continues to diminish. Also occurring on the backdrop is the trident

image of a cactus. Where the green tree beginning the episode is vital

and resplendent, the cactus is barren and lifeless, like the two trees

outside of Rimini. Far in the background of the shot, the cactus does

not obscure seeing as the green tree did earlier. The cross-form and

the condition it signals have lost their drive; they cannot assert any

impact within the arena of the Barafonda Theatre.

Following the opening stage act, the camera eye focuses upon the

various informal unions in the audience. Two male hecklers join a

third. A man turns to Empedocles, the spotlight operator, and tells him

to go to hell. A bespectacled man appears on stage. His act consists

of imitations: a person taking a shower, a woman dressing. The three

hecklers demand that he leave the stage. They do not like his imitations.

Neither does most of the audience. Before he leaves the stage, the

camera eye shows the young Fellini, who sits next to a philosopher and

the philosopher's girlfriend. The philosopher, a proponent of faculty,

embodies the history of imitation, of mimesis and hermeneutics. Fellini

smiles as the philosopher states that the theatre is the meeting place

between circus and brothel. He might as well have been defining

"spectacle." Like elsewhere in Roma and in other Fellini movies, spec-
tacle here in the theatre engenders narrative and vice versa.

In fact, spectacle in the Barafonda Theatre provides the young

Fellini with his initiation into the tripling process in its whole and

living context, complete with color. In this regard, the life in the

theatre is an informal or secular feast which takes place inside. It

is the feast of the powers of vision enacted at large. Where the young

Fellini is simply a naive presence during the Trattoria feast, a visual

evaluator of the feast's myriad images, here he will indulge himself

in the dramatic power of concomitance within the art of the theatre.

In coming to the theatre, he has chosen to further apply his visual

skills and get involved with a narrative performance acted out by the

human images on the stage and in the audience, whereas his existence at

the Trattoria was incidental to his ties with the Palettas. Beginning

with the red male on the stage, the young Fellini experiences and

learns from the tripling process. Thus he will become able to activate

his talent during the air-raid shelter sequence which follows the

theatre scene. He will be able to enter into a process which is

decidedly foreign to the narrator and will function independently from



It might be noted at this point that, as a matter of present per-

ception, the concomitance of images in the theatre and elsewhere,

aligned with the narrative powers of the cinematic eye, precedes any

verbal narration or maintenance regarding their importance. The power

of an image needs no verbal "screen" or mediation. In fact, color

movies, as an uncrossed medium, cannot screen the eye from participating

in life. The uncrossed quality of the medium beckons the movie viewers'

interaction with it. No other aesthetic medium, save that of life

itself, possesses the inherent capability of the uncrossed activity

that occurs in color movies. In one form or another, all aesthetic

media, other than color movies, cross or supplant the interest and

vitality of life with qualities foreign to it.

The three black and white images in the theatre further connect

Fellini's adventure to the process of movie-making. Fellini made the

connection primary when he chose to make Roma a movie about a movie, or

documentary. Indeed, he finds the story fascinating. (It forms the

centerpiece of his first movie, The White Sheik, and of 8 1/2 and The

Clowns.) Moreover, where talent is involved, the basic movie-making

process is also involved. Even the boy-Fellini's talent is centered

around making his own movie, especially in his imaginative act regarding

the dentist's wife. The three black and white images are the Italian

versions of Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Ben Turpin. Like the

boy-Fellini in regard to those images of Greta Garbo and King Kong,

the theatre-goers enjoy these strange American images. Furthermore,

they are clowns, but they are no better clowns, no fancier buffoons,

than the others in the Barafonda Theatre.


The clown-like quality of human images pervades the theatre from

its outset as an imaginative process. The humorous meeting of one of

the hecklers and "Ben Turpin" emphasizes the confrontation between stage

clowns and the "real" clowns in the audience. In fact, there is no

difference between them, as ultimately there is no difference between

the activities on the stage and those in the audience, or between the

Barafonda Theatre and the Great Southern Music Hall. The similarity of

the formal and informal interactions in the theatre would not be the

case if Fellini had not, in the growth of his imagination, deformalized

the role of images in his previous movies and created, as one critic

calls it, "a world of pure images.

In contrast to the drama of the human images in the Barafonda

Theatre, the angle of conflict within it occurs as an outgrowth of the

narrator's method of faculty which initiates the re-creation. The

formal historic theme contributing to the portrait of Rome, which is

earlier exemplified by the She-wolf image, the Caesar play, the movie

about Messalina, and the image of the Colosseum, is maintained in the

theatre by way of the four giant letters on the stage: EIAR. The

letters represent the semigovernmental organization which sponsors the

theatre activities. In Italian the letters translate as Ente Italiano

Audizioni Radiofoniche. Imaginatively, the letters form the following:

Ex Imperium Ars Romanum. Again translated they mean, "from the art of

the Roman Empire." The letters embody then the wartime Fascist state

and the history of Fascism, as well as the history of faculty emanating

from the time of Caesar. In the theatre the method of faculty, extant

in the giant letters, has only a referential and latent power.


Shortly after the appearance of the letters, their power is mani-

fested. A representative of the EIAR interrupts the Kent Trio to

deliver a message about the war. As the audience stands, he talks about

the "cowardly attack" upon Italy. He speaks about the glorious Italian

state and II Duce. His words halt the action and command the images to

order. Unlike the activity up to now in the theatre, the verbal act

coming from outside the theatre paralyzes the proceedings. The spokes-

man introduces the mere factual element into the narrative event. His

facts concern the degenerative impulses which consistently emanate from

outside the world of images and link the images to an activity and a

medium foreign to them. In interrupting the theatre events, the spokes-

man, a black-and-white image that has no narrative ties to the theatre,

temporarily blocks the possibilities for further adventure in imagina-

tive tripling. The faces of the images in the theatre show a similar

stress to that of the passengers in the cars at the ending of episode

one. The spokesman's faculty temporarily supplants the vital energies

radiating before from these images.

With the fracture of narrative drive present in the theatre, the

activities on the stage begin to reflect the angle of the division

existing between the visual and verbal powers in Roma. The final stage

act, the battleship sequence, dramatizes the external wartime events.

It modifies those degenerative events, however, by turning them into

creative action. The red light illumining the two gun barrels of the

ship aligns with the creative activity in the opening shots of the

theatre. The red light continues as an actively focused and dynamic

value associated with visual revolution and creative change.