Film: “Roman Holiday”

I was craving some classic escapist fare, as it has been quite some time since I have been to an Edmonton Film Society screening. Roman Holiday was a good pick – Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck frolicking amongst Rome’s most famous sites – what could be better?

Surprisingly, the city wasn’t highlighted as much as I remembered (the Trevi Fountain was only shown in passing, boo), though of course, the Vespa ride through the streets has perhaps surpassed the film itself to become an essential activity for tourists. The comic scare at the “Mouth of Truth” was also memorable, as was the scene in front of the supposed “Wall of Wishes,” which no longer exists as shown in the movie.

Director William Wyler created some fantastic moments of tension, particularly at the end. Her move to meet the press representatives, for example, had audiences holding out for the moment she arrives at Peck’s character. And with Peck’s final walk out of the hall, the camera positioned to capture any movement from the door which Hepburn exited moments before…who wasn’t eagerly awaiting a flash of white to appear?

What is undeniably wonderful about Roman Holiday, however, is Audrey Hepburn. Dazzling in her film debut, I am sure part of the reason she ended up winning an Oscar was because the voters simply couldn’t take their eyes off of her. Radiant and charming, she nailed the steady, aristocratic tone of controlled acknowledgement (if I could just learn how to say “Thank you” as she does in the movie…) and conveyed the difficult choice of duty above self. Clothed in Edith Head’s stunning gowns, Hepburn is unforgettable as Princess Anne.

Roman Holiday is likely stocked at your local rental branch, but here’s a tip – it’s also available at the Edmonton Public Library.

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