19 February 2005 | AudemarsPiguet
An underrated classic
They were called Women in Love,The Great Gatsby,Day of the Locust,Glissando,Valentino,Star!,Cabaret,Boulevard Du Rhum,Lucky Lady and so on. But another movie depicting the excessive and addictive adventure called the roaring twenties was largely forgotten and underrated. Divina Creatura is,in fact,a masterpiece and Patroni Griffi,its director equals Fellini,Bolognini and Visconti both in psychological depth and the portrayal of the decadent Italian aristocracy. Often this film has been criticized for various reasons: 1.nothing ever happens-nothing but the lavish,kingly boredom of some decadent members of the upper crust 2.the story is,at a closer look,plain and commonplace-you wouldn't need such an all-star cast and opulent settings just to depict love's labors lost of certain characters,which,to our disappointment,in spite of their privileged background repeat a story typical for every time and place where men and women exist. If at first look these two accusations might be true,from the first scenes this film proves the opposite.settings are superb,filmed in a way only European cinema can,almost every scene being visually a feast,exhaling that Mediterranean,baroque,antique,colorful and sometimes melancholic beauty of the settings often used in Italian cinema(this film was partly shot in a palace in Palermo,the ultra-sophisticated Grand Hotel Villa Igiea,probably not far from that used in Visconti's Gattopardo).Besides the storyline must be stressing upon the (apparently)unimportant little conflicts and pleasures of aristocratic life.To depict all these details with care and combine them into an accomplished work of art-this is what Patroni Griffi is achieving,where other filmmakers might fail. A story about the twenties doesn't need to be necessarily very profound,rather a lavish feast for the senses will do. The cast is marvelous and richly fulfilling:Ternce Stamp as Dany Bagnasco exhales the same elegant style Visconi's Fabrizio Di Salina from Il Gattopardo or Tullio Hermil from Innocente does-the same fascination for sensuality,luxury,death as a voluptuous dissipation,dandy-ism.Whereas Laura Antonelli almost equals Garbo in the part of the divine,chillingly distant,yet vulnerable femme fatal-actually the part would have fitted Garbo perfectly,would the film have been made decades earlier. The quotes in silent movie style prove that this film has a high intellectual level,while the visual impact is one of the most beautiful in movie history:it's worth watching almost only for the settings,irrespective of the storyline.Perfect for the moviegoers who enjoy Italian&European cinema,for all readers of literature dealing with aristocratic life(Zuccoli the writer of the novel which was turned into this film was also an aristocrat,count Luciano Von Ingenheim)like Turgheniew,Proust,D'Annunzio,Lampedusa,of literature about the roaring twenties(Fitzgerald,D.H.Lawrence),of authors like Thomas Mann,Nabokow,Moravia. My absolute favorite!