So as the name, so is the great beauty- absolutely stunning, extravagant, grandeur and seductive, this Italian movie “The Great Beauty” in its inebriating metaphors & powerful visuals is written & directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
If you had seen Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, you’ll be inept to watch “The Great Beauty” without discerning about it. Strange and remarkable, that this film alike its predecessor, poise a balanced & overpowering sarcasm in a more melancholic humor, and its portrayal of contemporary Rome is mesmerizing. The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza), made in 2013 is the first Italian movie to win the best foreign language film Oscar since Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful in 1999.
The characters in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty like to refer to themselves as royals. The king, the queen, and yes there are surviving princess aging, nasty ones. The rendezvous, trysts, the porticoes, galleries, salons, forts, piazzas and all around the statues of gods, saints and erstwhile kings outlined against those silence and immobile walls of Rome. The void between the past and present, the lull between the storms of time gone by, the space of nowhere they got to go in the midst of today’s craving thirst all in its deep breathe of eccentricity of splendor Rome
Yes I mean Rome in its kind of party one can imagine, with all its action momentarily talking in voice-over of the protagonist Jep Gambardella. The film opens with a quote from Céline’s journey to the end of the night- “To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength.” Truly to the core, the aging socialite, Jep Gambardella, who once wrote a famous novel in his twenties, only to retire into a comfortable life writing cultural columns and throwing parties in Rome. In his 65th birthday party, he walks through the ruins and city streets, encountering the various characters, reflecting on his life, his first love, and sense of serenity, indulgence and his tryst of his past.
The past of Jeb depicts so much as his earlier novel, ‘the human apparatus’ forty years ago continue to ask question about him of not tried another novel. Even his editor, Dadina (Giovanna Vignola), an acerbic dwarf, tells him his career has not delivered on the potential his talent promised. This film is too erudite and sophisticated to have Jep Gambardella soften in a spate of remorse and regret. Spotless in cool custom tailored suits, glittering sports outfit, his haunting experience of his accustomed world and his personal feeling no longer remain the same as he let things of his world go in the best of his thumping form in his gaze, lights a cigarette and ponders. It’s stated that Paolo Sorrentino’s had been inspired from Federico Fellini’s film. There are obvious touch points you can notice in this film. Sorrentino nods to both the destructive intemperance of La Dolce Vita and the emotional paralysis of 8½. A very intense image that this inspiration even outdoes his master’s- A classy climax indeed
Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘directorial venture is an ecstatic work on the meaning of life beyond high society with actor Toni Servillo as Jeb Gambardella in his endearing charm and attractive best. Jep has filled his life with fun and frivolity. The movie shows that there is nothing of affluence and substance left. Besides not much around are superficial thou’ for all that venom, the film treats the characters as a liberalist.
In one of the scene- Jep interviews a performance artist named Talia Concept, whose act involves shaving a sickle-and-hammer into her red bush and head-butting walls. She talks about the sensory impressions and vibrations; and then asks him to ask her about her mom’s abusive boyfriend. What a precise & pretentious act, of course, very impactful.
The film reaches a natural, eloquent stopping point before it hits the two-hour mark, but it continues, altering course slightly to focus on a subplot involving the Catholic Church. This part may be more straightforward than what leads to it, telling us things we already understood about Jep’s new pursuit of deeper truths. But Sorrentino has his eye out for moving moments, at the daybreak on the terrace, for instance, where a flock of migrating flamingos has stopped to sleep. There, a withered nun, whose life of voluntary poverty is a silent rebuke to the luxury around her, expels what breath is in her lungs, blowing the birds on their way. The Great Beauty is a subtly daring cinematic high-wire act — an entire film built around one character’s unrealized, unspecified yearning. I am sure this will be Paolo’s personal best in the making.
The other key element to Paolo Sorrentino’s world is his exceptional use of music, “an inevitable mix of the sacred and the profane, just as Rome famously is,” the director says, which specifically means modern music by composers like Henryk Gorecki and David Lang combined with Italian pop anthems. What we hear is always unexpected but completely appropriate.
The director Paolo Sorrentino had been recognized as the conferred honorary citizenship of Rome, in a way the Italian capital is shown in the movie. His superb sense of hypnotic visuals along with the cinematographer wizard Luca Bigazzi show how to fill a wide screen, of all the camera movement, the visuals spectacle and the intoxicating richness of color 35-millimeter film in a way few contemporary ventures can match. When Sorrentino says in the press notes that “a single shot, if well thought out and balanced, can enthrall and say more than ten pages of dialogue,” he’s as good as his word. I am sure Rome never looked more beautiful, and the characters that have backed the excursion of Rome remains one of my personal favorite and the travel well worth experiencing
- Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
- Produced by Nicola Giuliano; Francesca Cima & Fabio Conversi
- Screenplay by Paolo Sorrentino & Umberto Contarello
- Story by Paolo Sorrentino
- Starring: Toni Servillo; Carlo Verdone; Sabrina Ferilli & Carlo Buccirosso
- Music by Lele Marchitelli
- Cinematography: Luca Bigazzi
- Editing by Cristiano Travaglioli
- Studio: Indigo Film; Medusa Film; Babe Films & Pathé
- Distributed by Medusa Film
- Release dates:21 May 2013
- Running time:142 minutes
- Country: Italy & France
- Language: Italian