Moon Film Review: La Grande Bellezza


In that wonderful, wonderful film, 'Spartacus', there is a scene in which Julius Caesar, played by John Gavin, is talking to Marcus Licinius Crassus, played with great gusto, as per, by dear old Larry Olivier.  The topic of their conversation is Rome.

Julius Caesar: 'Rome is the mob.'
Marcus Licinius Crassus: 'No! Rome is an eternal thought in the mind of God.'
Julius Caesar: 'I'd no idea you'd grown religious.'
Marcus Licinius Crassus: [laughs] 'It doesn't matter.  If there were no gods at all I'd still revere them.  If there were no Rome, I'd dream of her.'

It was in that spirit that I approached my first ever viewing of 'La Grande Bellezza'.  I had missed it at the cinema in Italy and I had missed it at the cinema in London.  Very careless of Your Cultural Correspondent (Film and Theatre), I know.  But I did purchase it on my Easter visit to la città bella after asking one of my Italian friends what they thought about it.

Strangely, it had had the same effect on them as it had on me....
And that effect was one of being very moved.  Moved, in fact, to tears.  For amongst all the (human) nonsense, there was the sublimeness, the splendour and the spirit of the city itself.  In those scenes at the very start of the film, and then interspersed throughout it, in which I saw once more those buildings, those streets and those squares which had been my companions for a whole year, it was in those scenes that I once more felt Rome's spirit.

But, above all, when the credits rolled, the music played and the camera wound its way upstream under each of the bridges that I myself have walked across so many times, it was then that I knew that, for me, 'The Great Beauty' is Rome itself.  And I knew too that, like Marcus Licinius Crassus before me, if there were no Rome, I'd dream of her.

And, if you wonder why that should be, watch the trailer below and wonder no more.


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