Fellini’s masterpiece opens with a helicopter flying through the air carrying a statue of Jesus. No subtle symbolism. Religion in the modern age = celebrity worship.
In La Dolce Vita: Twentieth-Century Man?, Bernard Knieger writes that “the view of man suggested by La dolce vita itself and by its exploitation is that modern man is degenerate as demonstrated by his sensation-seeking.” He adds that Marcello and his pleasure-loving friends “enjoy the decadent atmosphere for what it offers them; they even enjoy seeing suffering and making others suffer.” There are too many distractions and temptations that real communication and real human relationships can’t exist. Knieger further attributes man’s degeneracy to the failure of Christianity. “What is here dramatized is man’s alienation from God and consequently from his fellow man [and] is man as the living dead inhabiting a Waste Land.” Christianity was unable to successfully adapt to the modern world and instead became something to sensationalize – as portrayed in the sequence with the children and Madonna – rather than something that would give modern man a moral direction. For Knieger, the monstrous fish found on the beach at the end of the film also takes on a biblical meaning, meant to imply that Christianity is dead. (Lena Kim).