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>
Farley Granger had an irreparable falling-out with director Luchino Visconti towards the end of filming' he left the picture and went home to the US. Visconti handled this by using a "double" to stand in for Granger's character in the final sequences--the double was told to keep his hands in front of his face the whole time, and then was dispatched with his face to the wall. This anecdote is recounted by Francesco Maselli in his fascinating film of personal recollection, Frammenti di Novecento (2005). See more »
Sweeping, operatic tragic love story scored to Bruckner
Whatever Anton Bruckner had in mind when writing his majestic Seventh Symphony, it probably wasn't as the score to a postwar Italian love story set during the Italian-Austrian conflicts of the Risorgiamento. Though the use of pre-existing classical music as backdrop for films is to be discouraged, here it works in surprising ways. Alida Valli is the Countess Livia Serpieri, in a loveless marriage to an older, collaborationist official. At the opera (Venice's La Fenice during Il Trovatore!) she meets up with a dashing young Austrian officer, Farley Granger. (Digression: After a handful of American films -- They Live by Night, Rope, Side Street, Strangers on a Train -- Granger journeyed to Italy to work with Visconti then fell off the screen for years, only to resurface in a few schlock films in the late 60s and early 70s. What happened to him?) They kindle up a clandestine and dangerous affair -- the wealthy older woman and the manipulative wastrel. After wheedling a small fortune out of her to bribe a doctor who declares him unfit to serve, he dumps her. But hell hath no fury....Luchino Visconti, assisted by the young Franco Zeffirelli -- both were opera directors, too -- pulls out all the stops, ending with a finale reminiscent of Tosca (but with a twist). Senso is a shameless and unforgettable wallow in Italianate passion -- unabashed verismo translated to the silver screen.
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