Luchino Visconti’s 1954 film about the affair between an Italian countess (Alida Valli) with partisan sympathies and an Austrian officer from the occupying army (Farley Granger), set during Garibaldi’s war of independence in the 1860s, is one of the most extraordinary historical films ever made. Rarely have the dramas of history and romantic passion been so skillfully and compellingly intertwined. It also marks one of the medium’s most creative uses of color. Visconti and his cinematographers Aldo Graziati (who tragically died during the shoot) and Robert Krasker fashioned a palette that was both delicate and vivid, rich in its historical associations and its evocations of landscape painting of the period. —Kent Jones
As Martin Scorsese notes in My Voyage to Italy, no 20th Century film-maker can lay claim to the unique disposition of Count Don Luchino Visconti di Modrone, the final heir to one of Europe’s oldest aristocratic families. For much of his youth, Visconti exulted in the privileges of his lifestyle. His house was a frequent retreat for the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Gabrielle d’Annunzio and Giacomo Puccini. His lifelong engagement in theatre and opera was imbibed from an early age along with brief passions such as raising horses and maintaining stables. It wasn’t long before Visconti began questioning the limitations of his lifestyle. Inspired by his intellectual yearnings, Visconti wandered away from his comfortable shelter and visited Paris. This would be a turning point in his life. Through his friendship with Coco Chanel, Visconti met French director Jean Renoir. He served as assistant director on some of Renoir’s best films from the 30s, including Toni, Partie de campagne and The Lower… read more
The Italian dub of the lines originally spoken in English by Valli and Granger threw me off, but the original English-language audio on the abridged cut of the film reveals Granger's speaking voice as less powerful than his physical presence. I loved the last half hour or so...the pinnacle of cruelty.
For the most part, this didn't hold my attention. I liked the last half hour but the rest didn't do it for me. I do understand everyone's praise of this film but the acting wasn't memorable, Alida Valli looked too old to take seriously, Farley Granger doesn't exactly remind me of a womanizer, the cinematography hasn't aged well, and the soundtrack was forgettable.
"Farley Granger, best known for the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951), and for Luchino Visconti's period
"Senso (1954) has long been the least seen of Luchino Visconti's masterworks, mainly because the original three-strip Technicolor negative