Tag: Luchino Visconti

September 25, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Kristoffer Tronerud

Italy, 1971. 130 min. Alfa Cinematografica/ Warner Bros. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Bjørn Andresen, Marisa Berenson, Mark Burns. Music: Gustav Mahler; Cinematography: Pasqualino De Santis; Produced by: Luchino Visconti; Based on a Novella by: Thomas Mann; Written by: Luchino Visconti, Nicola Badalucco; Directed by: Luchino Visconti

“The artist is like a hunter in the dark”, bemoans Gustav, the tormented hero of Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice, “they know what their target is, but they don’t know if they’ve hit it!” While this is certainly true of Gustav, nothing could be less true of Luchino Visconti, a masterful commanding artist who knew exactly what he wanted, and, most often, got it. In the contemporaneous promotional short Visconti’s Venice, Dirk Bogarde, (who plays Gustav with a brave and ego-free poignancy) notes with amusement that “I provide the tracks, but Visconti brings the train.” Another, very different, Italian master, Sergio Leone, was speaking of himself, but might as well have been describing Visconti, when he said “It is essential that all the details seem right, never invented. A fairy tale captures the imagination most when the setting is as realistic as possible”. Visconti was the master of detail; engineering every visual touch, every texture, every last element of costuming, set design and prop placement (indeed, on Death, he seems even to have controlled the weather itself), so that by the time the shot is played out, his languid camera need only pass over the proceedings in a final masterful brush stroke to bring home the powerful truth of each passage of this magnificent fairy tale.

August 9, 2006 / / Film Notes

Written by Stuart Kurtz

Italy, 1960. 168 min. Titanus. Cast: Alain Delon, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot, Katina Paxinou; Music: Nino Rota; Cinematography: Giusseppe Rotunno; Produced by: Goffredo Lombardo; Written by: Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Vasco Pratolini; Directed by: Luchino Visconti

Coming out of the Neo-Realist tradition which he founded (Ossesione being the first, La Terra Trema, Senso), Visconti found a way to turn the inexorable defeat of characters in this form into heroic action that might help them out of poverty and despair. Neo-Realist heros traveled hopefully, but they were at one with the world and so at its mercy. The Valostra family in La Terra Trema might gird themselves for battle against the wholesalers and the sea, but their hope was not enough up against the social and climatic forces that inevitably win against the little person.