★★★½ / DCP / Visconti’s great film is a beautifully focused, intoxicating pulp melodrama. The ghosts of a decadent past gives the film an eerie gothic mood, enhancing the psycho sexual drama between the brother and sister. Cardinale, hair flipping, mascara drenched is sultry perfection. Sorel, superb as the brother trapped in her emotional sexual cage. Visconti brings his visual flair to this dramatic chamber piece.
Whether we are following a car through the countryside or figures through a palazzo, ‘Sandra’ is a visual delight. Strikingly, Visconti’s camera will zoom in on the faces of his cast before sliding away, only to find his subjects again reflected in mirrors or pools of water: one can detect the impact his style has had on certain Italian directors working today. Mesmerically beautiful, but potent and enigmatic too.
You are never through with the past until the past is through with you. Dark, claustrophobic and erotically charged familial drama as myth. Still leaves questions unasked. Did this tense and wonderful film inspire Festen? Maybe also inspired In Search Of Gregory a little.
A real cinematic 60s treat. Cardinale, as Visconti's incarnation of a post-war Italy, dominates the screen with her smouldering, conflicted presence, as she prowls moodily through the ruins of her, and Italy's, corrupted past before finally leaving moving into the light of a better future. Intelligent, if at times melodramatic film-making from a master.
I think this film is better understood as an adaptation of the Greek tragedy Electra. Visconti's no fool. He has CC walking around half naked. It's hard to be sympathetic to insanely beautiful people. Luckily, it turns out they're pathetic. The cinematography is also breathtakingly beautiful.
Visconti loves to set his films in a palazzo, even this post-Holocaust incest picture looks better in a palazzo. I think he grew up in a palazzo, too; Visconti was one of the ruling families of Italy. He is a direct descendant of the first Duke of Milan. The oldest Tarot deck in existence was created as a present for a marriage between the Visconti and Sforza families. His aristocracy permeates his ouevre. 4.6