Wednesday, 5 March 2014

La Grande Bellezza

Beautiful, yes, (obviously - it's in the title). Loopy, yes. Inconsequential, possibly. Enjoyable, mainly; amusing in its satire of contemporary art, high society and senior Catholic clergy; rather touching at moments, as when the main character outlines his view of what friends do for one another; interesting linguistically, in that a) the English translation given when two males are talking about a woman they don't like is 'bitch', whereas the Italian soundtrack has the non-gender specific 'stronzo' and b) the phrase 'high society' is expressed in Italian by 'mondanita', which links more directly with what the film may be trying to examine - that is the worldly as opposed to the unknown.

La Grande Bellezza probably isn't as clever as it may wish to be - everything's a trick, life is too complex for any one individual to understand, these are not sentiments that are new or hugely profound - but it is very lovely to look at, (and the main character is the living embodiment of a natty gent - no Englishman could get away with some of his outfits, but they are wonderful [and his apartment, overlooking the Colosseum, I never even knew it was possible to live there {it probably isn't}]).

If you like Fellini, the film should appeal to you - indeed, if you've always wanted to see a sequel to La Dolce Vita, some have suggested that that is exactly what La Grande Bellezza  is.  For me it was more like Of Time and the City - inevitably, being Italian rather than Liverpudlian, completely lacking that film's solemnity, (and all the better for it).

I wouldn't have missed La Grande Bellezza, despite its faults. Sometimes the best works of arts are the most overblown, far from perfect but spectacular and never boring. La Grande Bellezza is definitely spectacular and too much fun ever to be dull. If you do go to see it, do not miss the final sequence over which the final titles roll. Shot from the perspective of a boat drifting down the Tiber, these last images establish everything that's gone before within the wider context of Rome and its past.


  1. I thought it took its time going nowhere, and would have been better a good deal shorter. Certainly I enjoyed the scenery and some of the music.

    1. It had something - gusto? - that gave me pleasure. I suppose it fits into a kind of spirited Mediterranean approach to film making that I find oddly energising. I rather like things that are not quite rational sometimes.