La Dolce Presuntuosità

(The Sweet Presumptiousness)

I’ve just begun learning Italian, which I’ve longed to do for years (it’s taken me so long to come ‘round to it for a number of reasons, and I’m thrilled to be doing it now). In a fit of bravado, I ordered La Dolce Vita from Netflix. I convinced myself that using one of my all-time favorite films as a tutorial aid was a good idea. Ha. It turned out to be quite a deflating experience. When it arrived I plugged it into the dvd player with all kinds of excitement. The film began—a helicopter, with a statue of Jesus Christ dangling from its undercarriage, flies over Rome. People in the street shade their eyes to look up at it; a gaggle of bikini-clad young women lounging on a rooftop react to the flying Jesus, thereby prompting the film’s first bit of dialogue:

I understand “che cose?” That’s it. Everything else was lost on me. I kept at it, but I only made it as far as Marcello and Maddalena roaring away from the prostitute’s flat nella macchina di Maddalena.

I confess, unless it’s spoken very slowly, I have difficulty understanding Italian, and I only speak it haltingly. I suppose aiming to comprehend La Dolce Vita undubbed and sans subtitles is overconfident at the very least.

Trivia: The term for celebrity-chasing photographers, “paparazzo,” came from La Dolce Vita. The character Marcello, a journalist, is often accompanied by a photographer named “Paparrazo.” So there you go.

(I acknowledge that writing about  ferrin films and all that really seems a tad pretentious, so expect a post celebrating All Things Jonas Brothers to kind of neutralize the jazz, beret, black-rimmed-specs theme. Okay, perhaps not the Jonas Brothers–maybe Nick Cave. Or Missy Elliott).

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