Venezia, spring of 1866, in the last days of the Austrian occupation. A performance of Il Trovatore ends up in confusion due to an anti-Austrian demonstration, organised by Count Ussoni. His cousin Countess Serpieri falls in love with vile Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler, but the times are changing. Written by
Vincent Merlaud <email@example.com>
Wonderful movie, and quite unexpected at the time from the neorealist Visconti, finally letting some of the operatic juice flow into his film work. It's also the first of his explorations of Italian history and social change, to be followed by The Leopard and the fantastic Rocco and His Brothers.
One caveat: At a screening a couple of years ago at MoMA, I learned that it was the Italian government that was responsible for the snipping of some crucial scenes near the end of Senso, depicting the Battle of Custozza. These were meant to make his critique of the Italian ruling classes and their failure to pull together during this period of the risorgimento more explicit. But apparently the Italian government, fresh from defeat in WW II, didn't like the idea of a major movie showing an Italian army being beaten. So the episode was truncated, leaving a few people scratching their heads about what the point of it all was. Poor Visconti tended to make long movies, and often had trouble getting them shown at the proper length in the US, but this time it was his own government that stymied him!
As for the rest: Granger is fine, but it's Valli who gives one of the all-time great move star performances. What a great face! The story is written on it, and the director wisely keeps her the focus of attention.
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