I saw VENERE IMPERIALE when it first came out, in its Italian version, in its full-length, glorious cinematography, and I must say that most reviewers have missed the point in evaluating the film. This is a great epic on the life of a woman legendary for her beauty and love affairs. While many scenes are perhaps too static, resembling scenes from an historical frieze, others have adequate tone, pace and atmosphere, do projecting a real feel for the times and people depicted. I never thought the film was overlong when I saw it, but it is obvious it could have used better editing, a faster pace in some places. Nothing wrong with the art direction and the use of location for the external scenes. If anything, I would have entrusted the screenplay to Jacques Prévert and Jean Aurenche, who did such an outstanding job in NOTRE DAME DE Paris, instead of using five writers as Delannoy did. Too many people, perhaps too many hands involved. Delannoy loved Gina Lollobrigida, and directed her well. I never understood the negative criticisms directed at Lollobrigida as an actress. Those who pan her performance in this film should have a good look at Sophia Loren's in MADAME SANS-GÊNE. That's mediocrity for you. Gina at least was beautiful to look at, and possessed true star quality. One regret, though: why use Micheline Presle so sparingly? She was so wonderful a presence and deserved far more screen time than was given here.
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