Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The end of la dolce vita

In 1962, a Dino Risi film was released which is in my eyes an allegory on how Italy's golden years would end: tragically.
This film is Il Sorpasso, with Vittorio Gassman, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Catherine Spaak.

It can be considered as the first road-movie. Hopper himself admitted he got the inspiration for 1969's Easy Rider from Il Sorpasso.
Bruno (Gassman), an outspoken and lively dillettante, meets Roberto (Trintignant), a shy student, and they start a trip through Italy in a Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider.
The film is a point of view on the contradictions of post-war Italy. A fast and happy Italy: flashy sports cars overtaking antique bicycles on brand new roads, young people living a frenetic life on an upbeat jazz score (by Riz Ortolani), leaving the elder and their traditions behind.

Nothing seems to be able to calm this energy down.
Half way through the film though, our two travellers stop to look at a crash that has just happened between a car and a truck carrying fridges. At first it looks funny, with all the mess caused by the fridges which have fallen all over the road. But having a look around, they see a corpse on the macadam. The fun is over for an instant.
And then they take off again.
But at this moment we know the end will not be a happy one.

Il Sorpasso is an early glimpse at the end of "la dolce vita", on the ruins of which I believe the Giallo was born.

Il Sorpasso (AKA The easy life) is a great film you should not miss. It's difficult to find it but you can get it here (only available in France, unfortunately), and read French writer Marc-Edouard Nabe's article on Dino Risi there (in French).


Anonymous said...

Excellent blog on "Il Sorpasso" (July 26, 2005). Killing In Style is an outstanding tribute to the art of (Italian) cinema.

Is the photo posted also avail. in larger resolution?


Sylvain L. said...

Max, thanks for your very nice comment. As to the picture, I'm afraid this is the only one I could find on the net...