Spa Home > Backstage Blog > The Great Beauty

La Grande Bellezza (Unrated)

This is not a family movie, it's unrated but would be at least R (Restricted).

I have always loved movies, I used them to great effect in my early childhood. They motivated me to work, so I could earn some money, so I could go escape my life for a few hours. I loved the cool of the theatres in the hot summer months and the smell of popcorn. I loved the people, it was before cell phones came along, today people make people of devices and as all those who have watched the world undergo change will tell you, "It's just not the same."

Every once in a while, no matter where you are when you see it, you see a film that transports you back to that childlike sense of wonder you had when you first loved a movie without judgment, when you were moved without needing to examine how. Most recently the film, The Great Beauty did this for me.

Then analysis sets in

Perhaps analysis is the mind's way of squeezing every last drop of enjoyment out of a pleasurable thing. Cynicism arrives only after we have squeezed the things we once enjoyed dry. How many times can you watch the same film and claim enjoyment? I do not think The Great Beauty would weather well in multiple viewings, at least outside film school. Yet it is one of the most beautifully composed movies I have ever seen, the craft of camera movement, chiaroscuro and the element of surprising even experienced viewers with new vistas and startling compositions. I often run ahead of the tale, yet with The Great Beauty, I wondered through all of it, "Where are they going with this?" and I declared it over twice before it ended.

Why blog about it?

I'm claiming it's because the film contains footage of an old-school botox party but since we don't do botox and we don't recommend botox yet we don't want to talk too much about botox for fear of giving you interest in botox, that's weak tea. But hey, if you do want to learn more about botox, at least get the information from a nuetral party like Wikipedia and please don't get it done at a party.

What was the deal with Jep?

He found success early, lived in luxury, pursued banal things, and his great ambition was to be king of the banal so you have to give credit to Toni Servillo for a great performance. He was in camera frame for over 2 hours and somehow managed to give depth to a character whose ambition it was to be king of the shallow. He moved around with such elegance and speaking of that, the camera movement was so elegant. The tracking shots were great. The crane camera work combined with precisely timed and choreographed actor motion to make these convergences of action that really worked. There is great beauty in the backdrop of Rome, but this film offered a supreme selection of that beauty to startling effect. Giraffes appear and disappear, flamingos fly by, a child-artist rages at a canvas many times her size, that's a random sample to be sure.

In one scene the Roman aqueducts serve as backdrop and I wondered aloud to Rene, "I wonder if people tag graffiti all over them." Turns out, and it's gonna make me cry now, they do. Ah well, expressing your art by defacing the work of another artist should seem sort of futile in a self-explanatory way.

Spa Home > Backstage Blog > The Great Beauty