Written by Paolo Demaria
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino and winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, La Grande Bellezza lends itself to multiple interpretations. It is a film that is like a labyrinth, beautiful but insidious: the various themes that intertwine in it, such as religion, art, sex, social relations, form a narrative tangle that speaks of everything and nothing, seemingly inextricable but with a great common thread.
There is a moment -in the course of the first few minutes of the film in which Paolo Sorrentino- tests his audience, with the fast movements of the camera, the soundtrack composed of the voices of a sacred choir and the rapid portrait shots to gain audience approval. That is the signal with which the director almost whispers to us: ‘Buckle up, because we are setting off on an iconographic, aesthetic, anthropological journey.
It is a film about loss, about mourning, but in the most elegant and sophisticated way possible: the message is addressed to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. For everyone else it is just a tribute to the splendor of the Eternal City and I find it difficult to establish what, in this film, is real and what is imaginary or the fruit of a dream.
At the end of the night dawn rises, silence returns and the city speaks through its wonders, statues, ancient ruins, squares, bridges, gardens, a sublime aesthetic enjoyment.
Pure beauty, an ablution that washes away all human filth from the pleasures or sorrows of the life of Gep Gambardella, the protagonist, taking him back to a state of grace, that is, to the time of his youth – which he sees again in that imagined sea above his bed.
In my opinion, one of the most interesting scenes of the film presents itself to the viewer after about a quarter of an hour from the beginning. The performance is artistic: in the center of the scene, a completely naked woman is magnificently played by Anita Kravos, who has her head covered with a transparent veil and has her back to the camera.
In the scene immediately following, the artist, who speaks of herself in the third person, is interviewed by the film’s protagonist, Jep Gambardella, played by a masterful Toni Servillo.
La grande bellezza is a triumph of the image that exalts the existential void. The absence of meaning, the luciferous portrait of the cultural crisis we are experiencing.
The ticking of the short human time approaching its expiration, against the sublime motionless time of the past, which Rome imposes on its inhabitants every day.