Scene 1 – Gianicolo (park/hill). EXT – afternoon.
From black to backward. That black is the inner view of the barrel of the Gianicolo cannon. As we’re out of there: BUM. Smoke and a great explosion. All at a sudden. The birds fly all brusquely over and toward the, once in a lifetime blue, sky. It is midday, and Rome knows it now. A beautiful summer sun over-reigns. Few spectators clap for the cannon shot. The overwhelming statue of Garibaldi on the top of Gianicolo appears. On its pedestal, a nostalgic (from Fascism) stumbles upon the inscription ‘Roma o Morte’ (Rome or death). Among the busts pointing the alley, a woman in her sixties smokes in the shade and read the paper. Discrete, up to the exteriors of the grandiose window of the Gianicolo church, we can peep inside.
An adult chorus in black dresses is perfectly performing sacred music. It is I Lie by David Lang. And we shake at it. But we stay here a second. We get far to see the nice big fountain before the church. Now the classical music is deadened again, far but present, and melt with the words of a forty years old tour guide. Bold, woman, she’s pushing up with the arm a closed red parasol to keep a group of Japanese tourists of middle age who keenly listen to her rigmarole on the monuments all gathered. The guide – a microphone hanging from her neck – tells history and beauty of the Fontanone with a very Roman accent staining her English.
A 50 years old Japanese detaches from the group. Called by something more interesting beyond, he goes far. He slowly crosses the street and go toward the balustrade windowing the city. We follow him. Behind him, on the back, a touristic bus, its driver smokes and phone. And now, extra diegetic, the sacred music revamps its volume. The Japanese reaches the balustrade and we with us, revealing as a real dream, downstairs, in all its overflowing beauty: Rome. The sun is wetting her. The sacred music, on its climax of emotion, coddles the most enchanting city of the world.
The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) – film, script extract, first part (Paolo Sorrentino, Umberto Contarello) – translation by Slow Words
Watch this scene with the director’s comment: