It is 1855, and the Austrian military has occupied Italy. Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) falls deeply in love with Franz Mahler (Farley Granger), an Austrian lieutenant. She betrays her country by stealing funds col... more »lected to aid the resistance and giving them to Franz so that he can bribe his way out of service. When she rendezvous with the lieutenant, she finds a drunken, ungrateful rogue who has used her only for her money, in what is perhaps among the most psychologically disturbing scenes ever filmed. Her revenge is swift and decisive, and though severe, quite believable. This 1954 film from Luchino Visconti (The Damned, Death in Venice) is a complex depiction of human passions and the destruction they can wreak, set against the larger destruction of war. A simple story told against the backdrop of countries at war, it belongs to the same genre as Reds and Doctor Zhivago, and is definitely worth viewing. --James McGrath« less
Joseph G. Mac Pherson | Studio City (Los Angeles), CA USA | 02/18/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Last year I spent over $55.00 for a pristine, still shrink wrapped copy of Senso on dvd. What I DIDN'T originally know was that the dvd was multiregional, coming from Brazil, in the original Italian language with subtitles ONLY in Portugese! Unless you are fluent in either Italian or Portugese, you will be spending a high price on a dvd you will never watch. If the Amazon.com Seller had notified me before my purchase that the dvd had no English subtitles before they so willingly took my money, of course I would have saved my cash. Adding insult to injury, I found MANY copies of the very same dvd on eBay, and they were ALL much cheaper! Take it from a guy who has learned a hard lesson: Before your bank account is charged for this dvd, inquire about it. You will be glad you did."
D.A. | Ottawa, Canada | 09/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of Luchino Visconti's top four or five masterworks. This baroque but magnificent evocation of the Garibaldi period of Italian Revolution in late 19th century is truly one of the great Italian masterpieces of 1950s. The film brilliantly delineates the erotically charged love story between Alida Valli (her best performance ever) and Farley Granger, and the bitter legacy of the revolution. History and Romance merge in a way only Visconti knew how. And the result is an operatic realism at its highest order. Despite the great, heart-renching performances, though, the film's fascination and power lies the sumptuous "look", the realistically accurate detail of that period. Visconti's unique attention to detail is breathtaking. Some may find SENSO crudely melodramatic and is certainly a notch below Visconti's best film, THE LEOPARD (which also features Burt Lancaster's greatest performance); still, it cannot be ignored. It is a must-see if you want to find out why Visconti was one of the great film artists who ever lived."
The most beautiful film of all times
Lincoln | Montevideo, Montevideo Uruguay | 08/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's difficult to find, in all the history of the cinema, a so beautifull, sugestive and deep work like this masterpiece of Luchino Visconti. Glorius technicolor, a magnificent cast (even Farley Granger, a very limited actor, is splendid here),dialogues by Tennessee Williams and a wonderful historical recreation of the "Risorgimento", plus a musical score by Verdi and Bruckner make this film a permanent pleasure for persons of good taste. In my opinion the best film of Visconti and perhaps the most beautiful film of all times."
One of the best historical films ever
D.A. | 07/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"the production design, the music, the attention to period detail, the plot, the actors all fit together in this story of cynical, deluded people betraying each other, themselves, and their country amid beautiful sets and photography. This is an historical film for adults, not some adolescent escapism like Shakespeare in Love."
An epic romance from post war Italy
J. Kara Russell | Hollywood - the cinderblock Industrial cubicle | 07/13/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have rated this film 4 only because of it's length, there are some ponderous moments, but otherwise it is a 5.
Italian cinema was still having growing pains from the war, but this epic succeeds, and skillfully incorporates the war torn landscape into this tale of an earlier war. The music score is very big and melodramatic, but fitting. The film opens with an opera in an enormous opera house, and this is fitting for the grand scale and operatic scope of this romance and the background. This is "Gone With the Wind" - Italian style - with a much more sympathetic heroine.
I am a fan of Alida Valli and have sought out her work. Perhaps because this is in her native Italian, and/or because of her Italian director, she is a full, vital, feminine woman in this film; very different from her more restrained work in America. (Her breathtaking performance in "The Paradine Case" is a study in austerity and an almost masculine stillness.) I had hoped that we would see a more free actress in her native language, and we do! She flutters and tosses her hair, she is a Countess reveling in her earthy affair. This is a full bodied performance.
Farley Granger's performance, whether in response to Valli, or just given a really meaty bad-boy to play, is a total revelation. (AND THIS IS FARLEY Granger, the same actor Hitchcock used in "Strangers on a Train" and "Rope.") He is lusty and sexy, provocative, pouty and passionate. In one scene, he greets her by wordlessly grabbing her hand and almost devouring it with kisses. This is a rare film where both the woman AND the man have real powerhouse roles. The confrontation scene at the end is gripping.
A small but pivotal role is played by Marcella Mariani. Her cow-like leadenness, laced with sisterhood, bespeaks a worldliness that, paired with her ethereal youthful beauty is just wrenching. All supporting roles, especially the maids, are interesting and give a sense of intrigue throughout.
There ARE mistakes on the box. As mentioned, this IS Farley Granger, but he is listed on the box as English (he is American), and Alida Valli is listed as French (she is Italian).
The outcome of one major plot point is cut out (apparently by Italian censors of the time) which leaves you wondering... "but what happened with that?" Still, the major story is the romance, which I think will be satisfying for men as well as women, because both sides are given such full emotional life. This is an enjoyable, big emotion, epic wartime romance."