Tragic, haunting, brilliant....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 05/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the final film of Italy's grandest, most operatic filmmaker (and still underrated) Luchino Visconti. For years, this film was really hard to find. It was only available in lousy, faded VHS copies, some of them pan and scan, others in the wrong aspect ratio. Now Koch Lorber has put it out in a wonderful, luxurious transfer, and in its orignal 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
This film is so rich visually that you could just watch it once without the sound, and marvel at the cinematography (by longtime Visconti colloberator Pasqualino de Santis) or at the production design, which is drop dead gorgeous. The music score is incredibly haunting and sad, much like Visconti's superlative use of music in his film of Death in Venice. The performances are also striking. Giancarlo Giannini, known to most film buffs from his hilarious performances in Lina Wertmueller's classic films, gives a fine dramatic performance here, completely believable, and there was no time while watching this film did I think of his comic performances. He's an excellent dramatic actor. Jennifer O'Neil, who is best known for Summer of '42, is excellent as the beautiful but vile mistress of Gianni. Laura Antonelli, who plays Giannini's wife, gives the deepest performance of the woman who is scorned by Giannini, but exacts a revenge on him that is heartbreaking and tragic.
The film is beautifully paced, very leisurely, and visually intoxicating. Visconti was incapacitated by a stroke while making this film, but you wouldn't know it from watching it. Even though he was ill, Luchino never lost his touch, and his artistry/genius shines through every frame here, from the opening credits sequence (which features Visconti's own hand turning pages of the book L'Innocente) to the final, haunting still shot of O'Neil. It's a great final film (even though an artist never intends any work to be their "final" one), and a masterpiece from arguably the most complex of the Italian greats."
Visconti's magnificent period drama
Reader | Boca Raton, FL | 06/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Italian director Visconti is well knows for his beautiful films, powerful stories about class and italian sensibilities. He has impeccable taste that shows it in every little detail, from music, to clothes to the interior design of the most beautiful italian houses and villas.
Set in 19th century, this is a story of a married couple who experiences their marriage turning more and more distant. While maintaining emotionally distant between each other and sleeping in separate bedrooms, husband gives himself a freedom to have a very public affair with a beautiful and rich high society widow. Wife, on the other hand, supported by loyal family and friends lives a quiet and seemingly subdued life not resisting her husband wishes to enjoy his open marriage in its fullness.
When one day it becomes apparent that wife is pregnant with another man's child their relationship changes instantaneosly. Keeping the truth secret from friends and family they choose not to disclose that child is not his for the sake of their marriage. Secretly husband hopes that the wife will loose this child as she did their own during early days of their marriage together. It is at that point that we fully understand the reasons for their previous estrangement.
But as the true father of the child dies in Africa during his military mission, husband becomes obsessed that his wife's love for the father of her child will transfer to the child himself and he will loose her and their life and future together. He is determined to remain in control of their life together at all cost. His resolve is unthinkable and leads to the utter disaster for all involved. I have not seen such visually pleasing film in a long time and it is almost impossible to believe that the film was made more than 30 years ago."
Betrayal is nothing compared with existential hell!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 03/01/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The theme of the adultery capitalized the attention of the literary universe during and at the end of the romantic era. Let's take a look around it. First, Germany with Goethe with "The elective affinities" and Theodor Fontane's "Effie Briest"; from Russia, Leon Tolstoi with "Anna Karenina"; from England Thomas Hardy with "Tess", and while France would propose Gustave Flaubert's"Madame Bovary", Italy threw D'Annunzio to the ring.
The visual splendor, aristocratic flair, inimitable panache, superb photography and accurate direction of Luchino Visconti, allowed him to undertake this so many times told before dramatis personae into a resplendent gem. During four decades (Obsessione better known like "The postman always rings twice", 1941; Rocco and his brothers, in the late fifties, Il gatopardo in 1963, made of him to be capable to strive and win with the most acclaimed quartet of films a director has been capable to undertake. These were indeed, "The fall of the Gods", "Death at Venice", "Ludwig" and finally "The innocent". His polite éclat has exerted visible influences specially on two directors of Italian ancestors, Coppola "The Godfather" and Scorsesse "The age of innocence".
Based on the celebrated Gabriel D' Annunzio's novel, placed on Tuscan, where the fall begins to appear. Tulio (Giancarlo Gianini) and Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) have a weird way of living, who leaves them with absolute liberty to make what they want. But the things turn harder when she realizes is pregnant of another man. And despite he has a very beautiful mistress, The Countess Raffo (starred by the alluring Jennifer O' Neil), the very fact she gives birth to a child of another man becomes more and more unbearable for both of them, leading to a tragedy of unthinkable proportions.
A marvelous cast complements this extraordinary movie (One of the four best Italian films during the seventies, Ernano Olmi's "Tree of the wooden clogs", Taviani brothers' "Padre Padrone" and Bertolucci's "Novecento") but is the unforgettable performance of Gianini (only surpassed by "Seven beauties") what truly confers the film the expected jewel of the crown. A masterwork that definitively may not absent in your invaluable collection.
This was his swam's song.