This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, amid the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principles on the line by engaging in a torrid affair with a dashing Austrian lieutenant.
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I am aware that Senso's chockfull c̶h̶a̶r̶i̶t̶y̶ comment box won't prosper with my two cents in, but I ought to get it off my chest. All the time I watched I tried to imagine how a proponent of adverbial theory would describe the experience of this film which is at times as ornate as a Kunstkabinett, as wrought and minutely chromatic as tropical seabed. How can the sequential, pedantic strictness of adverbalists, who
I'm not crazy about the 1954 Technicolor, but this is still a beautiful film by a great master. Not his best, but still 5 stars. The opening scene at the opera is enough to get the viewer hooked immediately (if you love opera).
I've seen only a few of Visconti's works, but between this and The Leopard he has, at the very least, two bona fide masterpieces. It is a gorgeous, perfectly paced film that showcases how great a melodrama can be. I thought both leads were fantastic, but what stays with me most is just the tastefulness of Visconti's direction. A beautiful film.
Until well done period tv (hbo period pieces and MAD MEN) I honstly can't of a film director who could period drama with the same attention to detail as Visconti. I prefer his darker later operatic period pieces but this is a great one. You have to appreciate well done melodrama to get into this film unlike his later work (or the work before it) but if you can, it's a visual experience well worth taking.
A film ostensibly about reckless passion, but really the interiority of Valli's performance means the film takes on the dimension of pensive, tightly-wound tragedy rather than that of lustful abandon. It's no criticism, but I don't believe for a second in Livia's love for, or attraction, toward Franz; infused with Visconti's love of opera, it is a costume and set designer's film, and orchestrated as an aria.
Emotional exhaustion and death are the persistent goals of the film, but in its idealism there's little of the hysteria that spontaneously and irrationally conceived romance offers. Visconti's opera wears a tight corset.