Dandy Cat

Dandy Cat

Title Card: The Great Beauty (2013)

A wide city shot of a rooftop party happening in the foreground and the rest of Rome in the background. The words, 'La grande bellezza,' appear over the city.

The Great Beauty (or La grande bellezza, as it’s originally known) was directed by Paolo Sorrentino and released in 2013. It was produced by Indigo Film, Medusa Film, Babe Film, Pathé, and France 2 Cinéma. The main titles supervisor was Francesca Di Giamberardino.

The film stars Toni Servillo as theater critic, Jep Gambardella. Turning 65 and learning of the death of his first and greatest love is a complete shock to his system. Now feeling without purpose, he ventures out into Italy, and away from the vapid parties he once frequented as nothing much more than a socialite. He meets people, hears their captivating, sometimes painful stories, and finds the inspiration and drive to create again.

Since first seeing this film when it was released by The Criterion Collection sometime around 2014, I’ve continuously been awestruck by its storytelling and beauty. Paolo Sorrentino’s exquisite writing and direction, couple with the brilliant camerawork of cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, is truly something special. I try to get everyone I know to watch it. I’m not of the age or status where I can see myself reflected in the character of Jep, but his search for truth, beauty, and lost creativity is something that can rightly be called universal. This film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards in March, 2014, and deservedly so. There was no other film released that year that better examines what it means to search for meaning in life, and then feel the satisfaction of finding it.

Criterion did a nice interview with Paolo Sorrentino around the release of this film, in which they talk about his history with and love for movies. It’s a quick watch and fun to hear from a modern master about his filmmaking inspirations. 🎞