Evansville Water: The Movie: Part 1

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Wisconsin Wit

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mailbag: Dr. Dennis Cooper writes Re La Dolce Vita Pt 2:

Hello folks, Well, I went to see La Dolce Vita tonight. Silvano Agosti was there, but didn't remember me. I don't blame him - there have been about 311 Sunday nights since the last time I saw him (6 years ago). While handing out candy pieces in the theater (sweets - get it? The Sweetness of Life - La Dolce Vita? Never mind), Mr. Agosti did ask me what I was doing in this city of vice (Rome). I said I was following my students around Europe. He regarded me suspiciously: "Students? School?" Given his "murderer of the spirit" comment, I sensed what was coming, but I played it straight: "Yes," I replied. He said, "I wrote an article about schools," and although the exact wording he used escapes me, he asserted his opinion that schools don't let children emerge as themselves. "They come out as something - a Pope maybe - but not themselves." It was a blunt message of disapproval. He said all this in English, then proceeded to translate to Italian for the benefit of other members of the audience. They looked at me. The scarlet letter of P glowed on my forehead. P for "pyrriah. I didn't mind much, because I am a strong person, because I was mentally prepared, and because I am not sure how to spell "pyrriah." Mr Agosti returned just before screening the movie to introduce it. He said, "I saw this film when it opened in Milan in 1960. It is a condemnation of the decadence of the aristocracy, the rich and powerful. Many people in the audience wore fancy clothes, jewelry, etc. Fellini was present, and as he walked up the aisle towards the exits, people were spitting on him." It is now regarded as one of the all-time great movies ever. Personally, I enjoyed the movie much more the second time, primarily because I understood it much better this time around. I especially appreciated the depiction of emptiness and sadness in the Marcello Mastrioianni character as he tries to connect with his distant father, and as he reaches out to his revered, idealized friend Steiner, only to be crushed by tragedy. After the movie, I shook Mr. Agosti's hand and told him it was good to see him. He smiled and bid me to "take care of that mess in America", or something like that. He still didn't remember our earlier meeting. I'll see you soon, Dennis

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