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>
Senso was Visconti at his most elegant and aesthetic. It opened his series of historical spectacles. The film showed that epics and melodramas can entail political criticism as any other genres. Senso is his intelligent analysis about the Italian unification - Risorgimento. The film's criticism didn't please all the people and it suffered from censorship and it was edited several times. Nonetheless this aesthetically beautiful film still stands out as a fine ironic masterpiece.
The year is 1866 and the moment people have dreamed for decades - centuries - is in our hands. Garibaldi is coming and the Italians are beating the Austrians. In the middle of all this Visconti tells us a story about an Italian woman, who is the cousin of the leader of the underground resistance, who falls in love with an Austrian lieutenant. She is blinded by her romantic illusion and is ready to betray her family, friends, ideals and native land - these are part of the ethical problematics in Senso.
Senso was Visconti's first color film and he obviously had put a lot of effort to it. It's visually gorgeous and meant an aesthetic revolution for Italian cinema. It is no coincidence that it starts in an opera which Visconti did a lot himself too. The opening sequence shows us the basic power of Opera and melodrama - to change life, infrastructure without forgetting the concrete history.
Historical films always tell us about two different ages, intentionally or unintentionally: the one the story takes place in and the time it was made in. It's a film about the Italian unification but also a study about the deepest emotions in Italy during the 1950's. Italy after WWII, filled with neo realism - antifascist battle and hope for democracy. But also about the downside; the victory of the right-wingers and the beginning of the Cold War.
Senso is a gorgeous film which requires patience and love from its viewer. It's a political, ironic, revolutionary and aesthetic film. Truly one of the biggest landmarks in Visconti's career but also in the history of Italian cinema.
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