Program of films by Luchina Viscontia
Luchino Visconti – The Leading Figure of World Film
beliefs. It is a fact that he had only one characteristic common to both the
proletariat and the aristocracy: international interconnectedness in preserving
Visconti came from the aristocratic Milan family di Madrone. The mention of
family is not coincidental, here: Visconti referenced the theme of family in
almost all of his films. Even a drifter in his first film Ossessione
(1942), played by Massimo Giroti, breaks up an already defected family, (if one
may call a marriage between two very different people who cannot even have
children together a family). Behind Visconti’s second film’s title The Earth
Trembles (La terra trema, 1948) there hides the original – Family
Malavoglia by Giovani Verga. In 1951, after he made his third film Bellissima,
in which a mother tries to turn her young daughter into a film star, the
followers of Visconti could bet that his next film would have something to do
with a family. They would not have been wrong because the film Senso from
1954 is both Risorgimento and famiglia. Those who bet money on it 1960 would
have made a lot, because in that year Visconti made his last film about a poor
family: Rocco and His Brothers. All of his other films dealt with rich
aristocratic families who are usually in a state of decay and extreme decadence:
The Leopard (Gepard, 1964), Of a Thousand Delights (Vaghe stelle
dell orsa, 1965), The Damned (La catuda degli dei, 1969), Conversation
Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno, 1975), The Innocent (L
innocente, 1976). Even the handsome blond Pole, Tadju, with whom a writer falls
in love in Venice, is a beloved member of an aristocratic Polish family.
However, exploring the theme of family is not only characteristic of Visconti’s
work. It is the basis of a great deal of literature as well – from the classic
to the contemporary. Family is the arena where royal tragedies happen and where
the proletariat puts up a fight against mass capital. Surprisingly enough it is
again families, such as the Krupp family, that hold the capital in their hands.
Sophocles and Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann and Giovanni Verga, Giuseppe Tomasi di
Lampedusa and Marcel Camus, O\'Neill and Williams all played an influential role
in developing the horizons of this outstandingly educated and talented author.
Of course, one must not forget people such as Vasco Pratolini or Pasquale Festa-
Campanile, who were Visconti’s co-screenwriters on his films.
Once, Visconti said that he was an aristocrat by his origin but a Marxist by his
beliefs. You may agree with this or not but it is a fact that he had only one
characteristic common to both the proletariat and the aristocracy: the common
interest of self preservation.
The actors in his films do not look like typical Italians. There is Alain Delon,
the handsome Frenchman who plays Rocco, there is the famously decadent Britton,
Dirk Bogarde, who lies on a couch next to Ingrid Thulin in The Damned in
much the same manner that an American, Farley Grenger, lowers his head to Alida
Valli’s lap on a similar couch in Senso. When watching these films, pay
attention to those two scenes: almost the same setting, same props, same
composition, same atmosphere and the same feeling. The only difference is the
gloomier lighting in the gloomier film – The Damned.
In spite of their reflection of literature, Visconti’s films are watched. His
women lean on windows and cliffs expecting their husbands and sons to return
from the raging sea; Clara Calamai and Massimo Girotti in the vast Paduan
valley; A close up of a crying girl whose ambitious mother will be forced to
question her own ambition when a film crew ridicules her daughter; The pietá
composition in The Damned, Senso and The Innocent.
Visconti is an exceptionally literate and educated author whose films are
visually superior and always represent precise, serious and successful
historical reconstructions in which families’ destinies are in the center of
attention. (Dario Marković)