In La Dolce Vita, the theme music, written by Nino Rota, is heard three times throughout the movie. The first appearance is at the scene with Sylvia at 37.27. After the diegetic music ends that Sylvia and her friends dance with, we hear the slow version of the theme music non-diegeticly. It last only about thirty seconds before they requested another song. What is the importance of the scene that requires a special music? In my opinion, not that important. When the theme music plays, we only see the other people who sit at the table, stating the fault in the costumes that indicates they are aware of their surroundings, they are even careful enough to notice. However, for Sylvia, life is so fast contrasting with the slackened theme music.
The second time is at 1.56.00. We are at the party that is boring. There is already a jazz-like music in the scene, but when Marcello enters the room, we hear the blues version of the theme music. This time it lasts longer, and other than repeating itself, each repeat has some differences, sometimes the instrument that plays the main motive changes, sometimes accompanied instruments added. The blues feeling makes us thing that rhythm is being late to each beat. That is associated with the boredom and the meaningless conversations.
At the last time, we hear the original-full version theme music. It is fast and repeated many times. It is heard when the party is at peak. Now, the life is too fast and everybody tries to catch up. There is special interference to make the party continue, no toleration for stopping. In the scene, like a theatre, actors salute the audiences and leave the house one by one. The music sounds like curtain music, no matter what the play’s subject/plot, both actors and audience is happy for their success. And the struggle of the main character to find himself is now over. At the outside, music continues with little less sound then disappears with a decrescendo.