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Grande Bellezza

March 14, 2014

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Paolo Sorrentino’s Grande Bellezza is a feast for the senses, and as such is very much like the city it portrays.   The city and the film are surreal, they make you laugh out loud, as Oliviero Toscani did on the program Piazza Pulita last week after watching a short expose on La Grande Monnezza, “the great trash heap” that is also Rome.

At the ceremony tonight to award Sorrentino honorary Roman citizenship, Carlo Verdone spoke eloquently of Rome’s state of “decomposition”, but also of how he believes Rome is always capable of resisting the decay into which it repeatedly falls.  I was moved by Verdone’s words about the state of abandon of the Tiber and the importance of those of us who know how to love Rome, whether or not we were born here.  Sorrentino, he pointed out, is just the latest in a long line of “foreign” directors who have shown Rome in a new poetic light.

Sorrentino’s words on the eternal city were less optimistic;  he described Rome as a long series of errors from which the city never learns, a long and fruitless struggle to be contemporary.  But he ended his poignant talk with an incredible list of “outtakes” from the film, “bellezze” that he has seen in Rome that didn’t appear in the film.  A bizarre stream of consciousness description of those scenarios we can’t help but love, with all the decadence, hypocrisy and pure theatricality that makes Rome, well, Rome.

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The party celebrating Rome’s new citizen was sedate compared to Jep Gambardelli’s parties in the film, but no less spectacular.  Twilight on the Forum from the terrace of the Campidoglio, good company, abundant wine and food.  What more could you want?

Spoiler alert: You may just want to skip the photos of the Roman “pedestrian areas” that greeted me upon leaving the Campidoglio. Yes, that is the turtle fountain on the left.  No comments are necessary.  Verdone is right, we who love Rome won’t let it fall again.

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