Cinecitta/Cinema Borghese


The film plays to an empty theatre
Time elapses
Now the audience enters

They try to ascertain the plot   –
Vineyards seas and cities
Fact and dream collide and intermingle   –
Unlikely heroes raise applause
Also bears and horses

Comedy misfortune interludes for kisses

The beginning still unseen   –
So pivotal to the plot

‘It is after many wars’ some say
‘It is after climate change’
‘It is spiritual evolution’

Some claim to have seen the Original Print
‘Encoded in DNA’
‘Simply learned and acquired’
‘Mere chemicals inside a cosmic egg’

Absorbed by the film
They forget all former existence
Beyond the theatre door

Then one by one they leave   –
The film still running      
No-one sees the end

The film plays to an empty theatre
Time elapses
Now the audience enters




Nero commanded the mountain springs
‘March to the heart of the City’
Their aqua-ducts still stand
Though this was not an act
Of which Nero is remembered   –

Light on leaves and water
Light on movie screens
Lighting our illusions   –
Light itself ‘the star’

In fountains at the foot
Of via Veneto   –   here
The waters always pure   –
Fellini filmed his hedonists
Insisting   –   given purity
They’d have excess of it

‘La Dolce Vita’ deifies
The senses as today
We deify appearances
But with a little water

A source of mountain springs
Relocates the soul
In the mist of Roman traffic
To where it would intend   –

Immersing in scintilla of its fountains
Rising in prisms at the end of time



Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer

(Bernard Saint’s collection ‘Roma’ – Smokestack Books 2016
is now curated by Cineteca-Archivo  Fondazione Fellini
& Casa del Cinema Roma)




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