La grande bellezza

Yesterday my study of beauty led me to the movies, to see Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) (2013), a film which has been described as Sorrentino’s modern take on the themes of Fellini’s La dolce vita.

La grande bellezza is a film about Jep Gambardella, a journalist (and a stalled author) who at 65 gradually starts awakening from a slumber of intellectual paralysis (a delayed mid-life crisis?!). Jep wrote a novel once, but instead of continuing on the artist’s way, he wandered off into upper bourgeoisie party life – as a journalist.

At first sight Jep’s story might seem superficial, but there is a development in his understanding of beauty that actually is rather interesting; it’s worth noting that among the women he comes to celebrate are his very ordinary housekeeper; his editor – a lively blue-haired dwarf; and an ancient, toothless nun who eats nothing but roots.

What really struck me about the film though, wasn’t so much Jep’s story, but the magical visual scenes and the marvellous use of music. The film straddles the profane and the sacred, the great pointlessness and the great beauty – an incompatible span – very well reflected in the soundtrack, which jumps from techno to contemporary classical music in one and the same take. Demonstrating how the profane and the sacred are, as always, inexorably intertwined.


A world of relative inaccessibility AM ART BEAUTY film the-HOME-project writing

Sigrun View All →

sketcher, reader, writer

10 Comments Leave a comment

  1. La grande bellezza has just been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. I highly anticipate it, but don’t know when or whether it will be shown in our city.

      • I saw the film, Sigrun, and I must say, I have so much to say about it that I’m inspired to write my own private review. If it turns into something worthwhile, I’ll share it. I have mixed feelings about the film, which is the reason I feel I need to ‘reason’ it out in an essay. Overall, I enjoyed the film; it stuck with me. I’m just now sure how I feel about how the director crafted it. In some ways, I think it’s too similar to La Dolce Vita, in others, it’s completely different! So, maybe that’s a good thing. In some ways, I thought he took on too much, in others, I think the cacophonous riot of images was appropriate to the theme. One thing is certain, I want to see it again to make sure!

      • Hm; I’ve only seen La Dolce Vita once, many – many years ago – so maybe I should turn to it again, and see what happens if I watch it in light of La grande bellezza – might be kind of interesting …?

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