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Gino, a young and handsome tramp, stops in a small roadside inn run by Giovanna. She is unsatisfied with her older husband Bragana : she only married him for money. Gino and Giovanna fall in love. But Bragana is inhibiting for their passion, and Giovanna refuses to run away with Gino. Written by
Luchino Visconti was light years ahead of his contemporaries. The great directors of Italy of the 40s and 50s were men who understood the medium, but it was Luchino Visconti, a man of vision, who dared to bring a film like to show what he was capable of doing. He clearly shows his genius early on in his distinguished career with "Ossessione", a film based on James Cain's "The Postman Always Ring Twice", which was later made by Hollywood, but that version pales in comparison with what Visconti achieved in the movie. Luchino Visconti and his collaborators on the screen included an uncredited Alberto Moravia, a man who knew about the effect of passion on human beings.
The film has been well preserved in the DVD format we watched recently. The film is a must for all serious movie fans because we can see how Visconti's vision translated the text into a movie that rings true in a plausible way, something the American version lacked.
What comes across watching the movie, is the intensity which the director got from his key players. The magnificent Clara Calamai does an amazing job as Giovanna, the woman who has married an older man, but when Gino appears in her life, all she wants to do is rid herself of the kind man who gave her an opportunity in life. Giovanna is one of the best creations in Ms. Calamai's achievements in the Italian cinema. The last sequence of the film shows Ms. Calamai at her best in the ironic twist that serves as the moral redemption for the monstrous crime that was committed.
Equally excellent is Massimo Girotti, one of the best actors of his generation who appears as Gino, the hunky man that awakens the obsessive passion in Giovanna. Gino is the perfect man for Giovanna, something that Mr. Girotti projects with such ease and sophistication not equaled before in the screen. Mr. Girotti makes the man come alive in a performance that seems so easy, yet with another actor it might not have been so apparent. Juan DeLanda is seen as Giuseppe, the older man who fell in love with Giovanna. In fact, his character rings truer than his counterpart in the American film, where he is seen more as a buffoon.
The film is beautifully photographed by Domenic Scala and Aldo Tonti. They gave the film a naturalistic look that was the way Italian directors of the era favored. The original musical score of Giuseppe Rosati is perfect. Visconti, a man who loved opera and was one of the best directors, also includes arias by Bizet and Verdi that fit well in the context of the movie.
"Ossessione" is a film to treasure because we see a great Luchino Visconti at the top of his form.
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