When Beauty Isn’t Enough: Paolo Sorrentino’s “La grande bellezza” (The Great Beauty)

Movies over Matter

Just see this movie.


The opening sequence of Paolo Sorrentino’s La grande belleza is one of the greats of recent memory. Sorrentino and cinematographer Luca Biggazi send the camera sweeping and gliding through the splendor of Rome. It’s Gianicolo Hill – monuments and statues and a massive fountain, all punctuated by a female choral rendition of David Lang’s haunting “I Lie.” As the camera explores the park we meet Romans inured to the beauty around them. One woman sits beside a statue reading the newspaper, a cigarette precariously dangling from her mouth as she looks up, annoyed, we think, at the garrulous birds in the trees above her. Another man in his undershirt washes himself in ancient fountain. Another sleeps on a park bench, his face turned away from the world around him, as though he can’t face it any longer. They are surreal figures, the kind that haunt…

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