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Running head: CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN CINEMA 1

Contemporary European Cinema

Students Name

Institution

Contemporary European Cinema


The European cinema proves to be one of the most dynamic ones. It poses a challenge to

the Hollywoods domination of the industry. It manages to explore the past, present and predict

the future artistically helping the directors address their national concerns and identities (Koven,

2013). Paolo Sorrentino, an Italian auteur, has had a track record in the film industry (Bayman,

2011). He had five films in a row, and each has continuous usage of stylistic devices that many

contemporary auteurs cannot match. The styles help in delivering the message in each movie

(Koven, 2013). As a director, he uses the styles distinctively that define his visual approach. He

uses the art to depict his perception about the world. Most of his work has got a large following
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and criticism at the same time (Carta, 2014). Sorrentino stands out in the European market

despite the competition that the Italian films have to face following the Cannes politics.
The Great Beauty is not shocking that it has demonstrated to be Sorrentinos art-house

breakthrough. It illustrates not only the troubles of Sorrentinos technique and approach, but a

wrong-headed reaction to a larger disaster in late recent art films (Crowdus & Sorrentino, 2014).

It sounds like a rather grandiose critic of a single movie. It is told nearly specially from the point

of view of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo). An aging gadfly of Roman nightlife and one-time

literary sensation, Sorrentinos film operates on specifically two levels.


It is a character study, which permits scrutiny of Jeps milieu and his growing jaundiced

relationship to it. It is a hypothetical movie, suggesting that the physical history and artistic

control of Rome are so overwhelming as to be paralyzing. Rather than being dreaded, the Roman

intelligentsia has become injured, almost incapable of meaningful creation. Inasmuch as Jep is an

erratic narrator, his paradoxical distance is presented as undesirable. It is not easy to conflate his

trivial glance at survival with that of The Great Beauty or Sorrentino (Glenzer, 2013). However,

both film and filmmaker wad Jep, maintaining his superior irony protected.
In this work The Great Beauty (2013), Sorrentino uses repetition while juicing each

shot so as to desist from conveying numbness to the viewer. Honestly speaking, it is a film built

like a fright attack, Sorrentino so evidently alarmed of his audience lapsing into dullness or

having a brief moment of reflection. Therefore, Toni Servillos Mafia bagman had his practices

cut and diced into frenzied-montages (Crowdus & Sorrentino, 2014). When he moves around

with his fancy car, it truly develops into a business car. The movie envisages Antonioni circa

The Passenger (1975) through the old cinema du look moves of Besson and Beineix. The

film currently got a great acclaim after its first release in New York.
Sorrentino makes good use of satire and grotesque which happens to be his modest gifts.

In The Great Beauty, he creates an inflatable white elephant. The film teems with splendor and
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flourishes in the style of a third-rate phase magician endeavoring misdirection. The same is seen

in Sorrentinos One Man Up (2001) which circulates between two contemporary stories (Stubbs,

2014). Tony Pisapia (Servillo) is a prominent Wayne Newton-type sprawl singer whose calling is

characterized by a sex disgrace. Antonio Pisapia (Andrea Renzi) is one more famous man with a

similar name, a well-esteemed footballer hurt while too youthful.


There are no links between the two Antonios until very late in the film, away from the

shared name of which no remarks are made. They appear to be cosmically connected, however,

and their personal accounts of affliction shape a tidy contrapuntal black comedy. It is a core but

deflecting film. There is nothing here to show a five-time Cannes attendee. One Man Up is the

kind of filler film that Toronto utilizes to stuff the Contemporary World Cinema program

(Stubbs, 2014). The film helps festival-goers to pass the time. It is the exertion of a medium skill,

and it is well.
Sorrentinos Il Divo contains a blend of different styles. It circumvents the political

world and looks at Andreottis rule (Koven, 2013). It uses suspense on many occasions. Anxiety

creates pleasurable fascination to the viewers rousing source of entertainment. It combines

anticipation and uncertainty creating an obscurity of the future (Marcus, 2010). There are many

unanswered issues like: how close was Andreotti to the influential Masonic lodge that arranged

to push Italy near a soft dictatorship in the early 1980s? Was the execution of magistrates meant

to cover up the connection between Andreotti's henchmen and the Mafia? Did Andreotti really

get together and kiss Mafia boss Tot Riina? Has Andreotti been toiling for the sake of the Italian

nation or is he some evil, Machiavellian embodiment of the command?


The traits that Sorrentino builds his films are looking at the relationship between

individuals and power. Politics facilitate the entire process and get to the core of the matter.

Andreotti acts as a significant object of study (Marcus, 2010). Characters that were cutting across

mystery, ambiguity, and contradiction are found in him. He is a person depicting high opposition
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yet his decision affects the entire country (Cristiano, 2012). Sorrentino is attracted by self-

referential worlds that initially were football and music later became politics as popularized by

media. In the film, critics note the adoption of too firm an accusatory tone (Koven, 2013). He

depicts both the light and shadow life side of Andreotti. It makes it interesting by not

concentrating only on his achievements.


He also uses music distinctively that a script evokes. Music also at times creates a scene

and Sorrentino naturally do adopt it for the films (Marcus, 2010). It is always a norm for the

composer to write a whole soundtrack, but it is a different case with Sorrentino. His films have

varying spectrum of emotions that cannot be interpreted by just one composer (Glenzer, 2013). It

adds directly to the emotional quality of the movie and covers up weak directing or

cinematography. Music is a universal language and gives an addition to the visual information. In

the film, there is use of slow motion especially at the arrival of Andreottis collaborators. There

was a need to calm down the images necessitating the use of slow motion. A funky rock as music

would have mocked the self-important characters, but the eerie sound of the mysterious sound

brought out the footsteps well.


There is the use of monolog in the film. It is evident as Sorrentino expresses his

viewpoint in Andreotti's last speech. He says that one requires being evil in order to protect what

is good; these words are spoken by Andreotti to himself (Marcus, 2010). The style helps

characters in expressing their mental thoughts aloud but at times addresses other characters or

even the audience. Sorrentino uses the opportunity to give a personal feeling about Andreotti

being a controversial topic.


In Sorrentinos The Great Beauty, Italy is depicted as a desperate country. It is a feast for

the human senses: visual images, words, and music that highlight the desolation of the world. He

describes the occurrences vividly (Crowdus & Sorrentino, 2014). The film starts at the
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Janiculum, where a tourist probably from Japan takes a picture. He is overwhelmed suddenly by

the spectacular sight and dies from a heart attack.


The filmmaker uses the occasion and sets the tone of the movie tragically. It transforms

smoothly to a female choir singing church music in the Fountain of Acqua Paola that is nearby.

The beautiful scene comes to an end abruptly by emergence of the loud, very smashed, and

drunk party. Its primary objective was to stress the sense of emptiness to which many are

attracted. Parties are always the epitome of the void, beautiful but senseless. The music is

deafening, a direct contrast to the inspiring music from the choir. Jep is then introduced, enjoying

himself but rather with a smirk on the face. He says he did not just want to take part in the parties

but also have the power to ruin them.


The pattern repeats itself as Jeps friends are also revealed quickly with tilts and whirling

shots being chopped by editing brought about by the beat of the music. There is use of virtuoso

official meanderings and variation of themes (Crowdus & Sorrentino, 2014). The director

employs the Fellinian principle of accumulation by addition of meanings at the expense of facts.

Insertion of new characters while leaving out the familiar ones poses dichotomies and

juxtapositions. It is progressively diluted into one magmatic fresco.


The film brings out Sorrentino's perception of human frailty and alienation. The film is

not just about Rome, but it encompasses it. It conveys the malaise of the country, the human

alienation from oneself and the others. The message is coined through art, friendship, love,

music, personal and collective memory. Death is presented as a monster that looks on, ready to

take out the humans. It leaves the immemorial beauty or ugliness of things.
Sorrentino manages to relate well to the characters he chooses in the play. Jep like

himself is an outsider. He is a Neapolitan and has inborn courteousness, flair, and a cynical

tongue (Marlow-Mann, 2011). He alternates between the informed Italian language and the

trivial Neapolitan inflection. It becomes difficult for a non-native viewer to comprehend


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revealing his interlocutors status, the nature of his words and intentions. It is brought out by the

Fillipino housekeeper presiding over the beautiful apartment that overlooks the Coliseum. He

addresses her with affection "farabutta" meaning rascal, to this she giggles and responds in the

same manner. Jep's monolog has a significant impact literary and poetic quality. Translation of

the work to colloquial speech gives a prevailing dry irony.


Narrative frames ambiguity that helps one to make sense of all that goes around him or

her. Sorrentino uses the words providing meaning and order to the world that he perceives to be

chaotic and meaningless (Marlow-Mann, 2011). Briefly after the opening, the viewer is

introduced to an imaginary path of life. Jep indicates the restored literary inspiration by his

words at the end. It offers a remedy besides the weariness of the present.
The separation of the standard speech and vernacular gives multiple dichotomies

surrounding the film. One may try to analyze the juxtaposition of the contrasting images and

sounds. The technique emphasizes the good of the old while ridiculing all that is new (Hope,

2010). It is the continuity of opposites and openness together with its moral and esthetic

challenges that make it a powerful cinema. It also raises emotions and stimulates intellectually

cinematic experience. It does not give exact solutions or role models hence cannot be perceived

to be political due to its traditional influence.


It, however, strikes the center of a culture that needs a reflection as the necessary room

for change. Sorrentinos characters have bizarre peculiarities and are seen in The Great Beauty as

well. Not even a single character moves the viewers to compassion (Crowdus & Sorrentino,

2014). They are full of energy and manage to survive in cases of death and insensitivity. The film

is full of vitality in all occasions including sorrowful events and tragedies. Jep, Antonio, Tony

Pisapia, and many others feature in Sorrentinos cinema. Most of them share a common narrative

arc. Their life more often has disillusionments and defeats. They redeem their mediocrity

towards the end, either by moral epiphany or self-destruction. The exception is in Il Divo of 2008
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where Andreottis redemption comes in the form of public oblivion and power loss (Cristiano,

2012). He was a powerful leader in the Italian political scene for more than forty years.
There is a subjective cinematic address in Sorrentino's films. The gaze is too erratic, and

the subjects not easily constrained by a sole perspective of a hero. It does not hinder other types

of interpellation (Hope, 2010). For instance, Jep's perspective helps a viewer in formulating

issues that encompass and exceed those of Jep about life, memory, and peoples position in the

world. The pervasive interpellation of the audience is remarkable due to directors challenge to

viewers identifying with characters (Marlow-Mann, 2011). The audience attaches himself or

herself to characters in order to gain access to their feelings and thoughts. Allegiance, at times,

also come in hand and entails emotional process. It depends on the moral values and individuals

traits as to whether they could be compatible with those of the spectator. It is thus deliberately

elicited by the filmmaker. The viewer may have an intense cognitive alignment brought by the

audio and visual alignment that may not be the case with allegiance. Jep may not receive a

spectators sympathy following his traits. He is a cynical and too world-weary, squanders his

talent not to divert viewers sympathy. The fracture does produce a destabilizing effect as is

evidenced in most of Sorrentinos films.


Sorrentino uses character engagement idiosyncratically, and this gives the best way of

presenting his narrative themes. He does not just show the alienation but replicates the same

alienation in the viewer. The city is an imaginary Rome vividly brought out as beautiful and

impassive (Marlow-Mann, 2011). However, it is undergoing decay by corruption of the political

class and dejection of the civil society. The historical injustices are highlighted together with

physical features of the city. The various sites bring out a magical sagacity of conjecture.
It is a significant achievement as the unique combination of revered and profane stratified

symbolic meanings happens to be a favorite cinematic location. Jep takes the viewers to high-

esteemed palaces with wealthy people, and some of them lost their fortune, sold their names and
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large companies in parties for a humble price. The film capture places that the audiences want to

see including the Palace of the Maltese Knights. It also gives a glimpse of the grandeurs of their

marble stairways, images, tapestries, and another numerous riches.


Jep creates a malignant allusion by attending a performance of a female artist and later

pictures her nude. The scene is one of the hilarious moments together with the Jeps interview

with the artist. It combines a quasi-slapstick humor with Jeps resentful invective against the

charlatans ploys passing for inventive and sophisticated art. There are other scenes that indicate

the filmmaker's interest in the contemporary art. The biggest autobiographic that Jep had ever

seen being one of the episodes: a man's face in a photo taken for fifty-five years daily. Jeps gaze

slams through the numerous portraits exhibited on the walls of Villa Giulia (Crowdus &

Sorrentino, 2014). It discloses the unalterable aging, budging moods, happiness, and sorrow of

the artist as a subject matter. The great calm infuses a magic touch on emotional rather than an

esthetic experience.
Another episode takes place in a luxury mansion during a party well attended by

dignitaries. During the occasion, a daughter of a rich guy hosting the party is compelled to

perform action-painting but fails because of freight. She is only twelve years old; tears roll down

her cheeks and splashes acrylic colors using both hands on a gigantic canvas (Marlow-Mann,

2011). The girl moans loudly and is covered with paint from head to toe. Jep leaves speechlessly

from the occasion. It is true in todays art as they are tuned to bloated personal egos that have left

out meaning. The discordant description of the art and beauty compels viewers to assert that the

vast beauty dwells in the ancient city and not in their contemporaries.
Sorrentino uses flashback largely in his work. Flashback gives visual information to the

audience that he or she cannot integrate into the script. It links time, place, and action disclosing

an idea about the character, or progress the narrative further. Jeps flashback goes to his

encounter with Elisa by the seaside. It invades his waking moments with the ceiling of his
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bedroom morphing into a deep blue sea. It evokes an enchanting nostalgia. Jep is in a position to

dismiss his cynicism due to minor characters like Romano and Ramona (Crowdus & Sorrentino,

2014). When he was with Romano he marvels at a couple kissing and also when waking up

while Ramona slept in his bed, he says it was nice not making love. He is a cynic from the way

he behaves. He gradually comes to terms with the demise of his first love and brings out his

failure as a writer.
Jep is observed to look for enlightenment from envoys of the church just like many

people around the world do. The provision of his encounters multiplies the humorous and

hesitant tone that penetrates other sections of the film. The characterization of Cardinal Belluci

serves as an example (Small, 2011). The famous priest has a rumored past as he was a powerful

exorcist and refuses to answer any of the Jeps serious questions. It gives a picture of the

religious groups that are in existence today.


Another religious figure comes out towards the end of the movie. La Santa, a Mother

Teresa-like nun, is an intricate character. Her faith and charisma are authentic; attends dinner

parties, and this makes her a distressing and mysterious character (Wood, 2007). She opposes

silence to the noisy surrounding of Jep and says at some point that roots are important. Jeps

journey is seen to come full circle as his questions take him back to his origin and real self.
Sorrentinos work, The Great Beauty, has got a mixed critical reception in Italy. It ranges

from a lukewarm response to outright neglect. The probable cause is the sad national tradition

that started way back during the time of Roberto Rossellini (Holdaway, 2012). The foreign

critics, however, praise the movie as it depicts modern social dissolution. The choice of the title

alone leaves one wondering of what it implies. The films title has lately been cited as some

mantra invoking Italys resurrection.


One may perceive beauty in numerous ways. For youths, it represents the best years in

the sense of wonder. It cuts across the nature, sensations, and in sharing them. In todays society,
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all the things are made opaque due to lack of collective memory (Small, 2011). There are

teachers who obscure the past and presently live without direction. It means that there is no call

for contemplation yet the film helps people understand the world around them and hasten to take

care of the ailing body.


The characters come to terms with how things end in the same way. Jep takes a walk

across Rome in solitary and finds an intact and silent city (Small, 2011). Death equalizes

everything, as before it came there was life hidden under the babbling and all noise. Thus, the

human life encompasses excitement and fear (Carta, 2014). There is no great beauty but just

pieces or fragments of it. The ironic and whimsical touch makes all characters alluring conflation

of surprises and nuances (Wood, 2007). Beauty seems to lie in both as only the inanimate things

are still and muted.


It is about time that the Italian films also enjoy global support. It has been made possible

by Sorrentinos great work and other great directors (Bayman, 2011). Sorrentino brings out his

vision of the world in his artistic work. He uses the platform to describe all that goes around the

world (Marcus, 2010). The political influence on people's lives is great and so addresses it in his

work "Il Divo." The dictatorial regime and effects are clearly illustrated (Cristiano, 2012).

During opening of the film, Andreotti offers an inner monolog demonstrating how he managed to

survive his tempting political career while his detractors died.


He had a hand in all the deaths of various people including journalists, bankers, and

former Prime Minister Aldo Moro (Cristiano, 2012). The narrative of Andreotti, the seven-time

prime minister of Italy and associated himself with the Mafia. The tale covers the period of his

seventh election in 1992, his failed bid for the post of the Italian president and Tangentopoli

bribe scandal. It covered up to his trial in 1995 (Hope, 2010). Sorrentino uses this to criticize the

world dictators.
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In conclusion, the cinema industry plays a vital role in educating, enlightening, creating

awareness and entertaining the society. The contemporary European cinema helps in reaching out

to many people and the directors use it to communicate their visions (Bayman, 2011). Sorrentino

makes good use of his talent in the film industry by educating the general public about the vices

of the society. He emphasizes the importance of relationships among people that may lead to

alienation (Holdaway, 2012). He teaches on good governance without which there are

consequences. He perceives nature to be in control of all that goes around in peoples lives. The

natural phenomena like death are not in any ones power to control. As a director, he uses the

styles distinctively that define his visual approach. He uses the art to depict his perception about

the world.

References

Bayman, L. (Ed.). (2011). Directory of World Cinema: Italy (Vol. 6). Intellect Books.
Carta, S. (2014). Italian Studies: Film Studies. The Year's Work in Modern Language Studies, 74,

266-272.
Cristiano, A. (2012). Silvio Soldinis Giorni e nuvole and Paolo Sorrentinos Il divo: The

Differing Styles and Chief Directions of the New Italian Cinema?. La Libellula, 4, 36-49.
Crowdus, G., & Sorrentino, P. (2014). In Search of The Great Beauty An Interview with Paolo

Sorrentino.
Glenzer, S. (2013, September). THE NARRATIVE AND COGNITIVE SEQUENCES OF

SPACES La grande bellezza by Paolo Sorrentino Carla Molinari Universit degli Studi

La Sapienza, Dipartimento di Architettura e Progetto/University La Sapienza,

Department of Architecture and Design, Rome, Italy. In Conference Proceedings. Porto.


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Holdaway, D. (2012). Rome Awards: a return to cinema d'impegno? Contemporary cinematic

engagements with organized crime. Papers of the British School at Rome, 80, 353-354.
Hope, W. (2010). Italian film directors in the new millennium. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Koven, M. J. (2013). Perverse TiTillaTion: The exPloiTaTion Cinema of iTaly, sPain and franCe,

19601980, DANNY SHIPKA (2011). Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, 1(2).
Marcus, M. (2010). The Ironist and the Auteur: Post-Realism in Paolo Sorrentinos Il divo. the

italianist, 30(2), 245-57.

Marlow-Mann, A. (2011). The new Neapolitan cinema. Edinburgh University Press.

Small, P. (2011). No Way Out: Set Design in Mafia Films. Italian Studies, 66(1), 112-127.
Stubbs, J. (2014). The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture. Historical Journal of Film, Radio

and Television, 34(4), 640-642.


Wood, M. P. (2007). Contemporary European Cinema. Hodder Arnold.