One of the many memorable episodes in “La Dolce Vita,” Federico Fellini‘s classic film about 1950s Rome, takes place in the desolate outskirts of the city, where two children have had a vision of the Madonna. An unruly crowd of fervent believers has set up camp together with the simply curious and camera-laden members of the press. That night, a torchlight procession turns chaotic during a sudden downpour—one of those exaggerated touches that Fellini could not resist. Pushing and shoving, the crowd races helter-skelter as it pursues the two children, who dash about impetuously, exclaiming that the Madonna is here, no there, their every move reported by the local television station. The scene is at once comical, deeply sardonic and, most of all, intensely theatrical.
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