The Great Beauty


Movie Title: The Great Beauty (tit or. La grande bellezza)

Language: Italian

Production: Italy/France

Year: 2013

Genre: drama/comedy

Subject: Paolo Sorrentino

Director: Paolo Sorrentino


The Great Beauty opens showing a scene of a Japanese tourist who is collapsing maybe because of Stendhal Syndrome. The tourist is looking at Rome from a hill where it’s possible to have a great overview of the city. What is the ‘great beauty’? It’s really not simple to make an explanation about it: the movie host us in a world out of commons sense, not ordinary at all. The main charachter is Jep Gambardella (the actor Toni Servillo), a famous journalist and writer who is a contributor about costume and culture for a magazine. He’s a dandy, a ‘bonne vivant’ sought after the main and most exclusive social and cultural gathering in Rome. Jep Gambardella is a socialite and he confesses this in a core-statement: “When I arrived in Rome, almost without realising it, I fell soon into what we could define as a ‘high-society whirlwind’. But I didn’t want to be simply a socialite, I wanted to be ‘the first of the socialites’. I wanted to be ‘the King of the Socialites’. And I was able to do it. I didn’t want to participate in the parties, I wanted to have the power to make the parties to be failed”. The plot is not easy to follow: it seems to be hosted in a circus, Jep Gambardella’s own private circus (that’s why, maybe, somebody thinks to see in the movie something as a homage to Federico Fellini). So we hang out in his company, visiting the high society of Rome, the secrets of the most beautiful palaces in Rome, meeting weird people such as a girl-artist who screams painting, ‘the Holy Nun’ who is a missionary in Africa and who almost doesn’t eat, we meet a Monsignor voted much more in ‘Haute Cuisine’ and in eating than in a spiritual way. So, what is the ‘great beauty’? It could be the faith in living, lost and later refounded by Jep Gambardella, it could be the joyfull freshness of youth when you can look at the world with pure eyes and you can fall in love deeply without any feeling of fear, it could be the absolute, astonishing beauty of a millenary and full of a sense of the aesthetic city as Rome is, it could be life itself. Translating the meaning of the movie is the freedom (maybe a heavy freedom) of the audience. A spectator should activate all his/her senses and perception to move into the director’s world: nothing is plain, nothing explained. We can look at what Jep sees, and the spectator is claimed to have co-created the plot, in a certain sense, just because our eyes see pictures as we were observing paintings in a gallery.




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