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Visconti’s SENSO

6:00 ONLY

Must End Thursday, November 22

Directed by Luchino Visconti

(1954) In the last stages of the Risorgimento, the Austrians win the 1866 battle of Custoza, even as their empire crumbles; while Contessa Alida Valli (The Third Man) dallies with Austrian deserter Farley Granger, for whom she betrays her own Italian cause. With Visconti’s historical work – his first in color – dynamically coordinated to convey emotion and pivotal scenes underscored by Bruckner’s 7th Symphony, this was his decisive break with Neo-Realism, and despite dire production difficulties (his ideal leads, Ingrid Bergman and Marlon Brando were nixed, while a pivotal scene was censored by the Ministry of Defense). New subtitles by Michael F. Moore and Bruce Goldstein incorporate dialogue written by Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles for the English-language version, The Wanton Contessa (screening November 4). DCP restoration. Approx. 123 min.


Restored by Studiocanal, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata. Restoration funding provided by Gucci, The Film Foundation, and Comitato Italia 150. New subtitles © 2018, Rialto Pictures LLC.


“One of the most beautiful Italian films ever made.”
– Georges Sadoul

“A passionate and melodramatic romance, with doomed lovers, posturing soldiers, secret meetings at midnight, bold adultery and dramatic deaths. That it mostly takes place in Venice is appropriate — Venice, that city where every view is a backdrop for an aria.”
– Roger Ebert

“One of Visconti’s greatest achievements: a densely layered story set in the Garibaldi period of Italian nationalism, as much about the bitter lessons of history as it is about erotic passion. Indeed, nineteenth-century history was a passion of Visconti’s, and he became a stickler for accurate detail. When male extras showed up wearing black top hats in the opening opera scene, Visconti blew up at his long-suffering costume designer, Piero Tosi, exclaiming that any ignoramus knew in those days they wore gray top hats to the opera. ‘If you had read Stendhal or Balzac with more attention, you would have known!’ Visconti could go overboard spending on flowers or building churches as sets. But there was a method behind his mania: he constructed narratives out of the dogged massing of physical fact, detail by detail, until the past took on a Balzacian material solidity.” 
– Phillip Lopate, The New York Times

“A lush, melodramatic portrait of seduction and betrayal, decadence and deceit…revealing Luchino Visconti at his most baroque and the Italian cinema at its most spectacular.”
– Dave Kehr

“Probably the finest colour film in the history of the cinema… Visconti’s masterpiece proceeds with all the majestic rhythm and meticulous design of Grand Opera.”
– Peter Cowie

“Extraordinarily lush... ranks among his and the world’s most beautiful movies.”
– Mark Rappaport

Film Forum