Sandra comes back to Volterra, in Tuscany, the little town where she spent her childhood. She is with her American husband, Andrew. She wishes to pay homage to her father who died in Auschwitz where she was still a little child. In Volterra, Andrew meets for the first time Gianni, Sandra's brother. He soon realizes that Sandra and Gianni have a secret since their childhood.Written by
As they say, the characters in this movie are based on the Greek mythology, namely, the killed father (Agamemnon), his wife (Clytemnestra), her new husband (Aegisthus), the daughter, Sandra (Electra), the son, Gianni (Olestes) and ex-boyfriend of the daughter, Pietro (now he is a doctor but he comes form a tenant farmer family like in the original), and the Trojan War is replaced with the Second World War ... the story line is difficultly categorized into a direct adaptation like Mourning Becomes Electra (an O'Neill's play, made into a movie by Dudley Nichols 1947), however, it follows the traditions of the Greek tragedies : the past and the blood dominate and determine every destiny of the characters.
Here, Andrew (the outsider) is an interesting character. Innocently, (without receiving an oracle!), he analyzes 'the curse' of the dead father rationally, objectively and very ordinarily in vain and opens Pandora's box with his 'good' foolhardiness. Besides, he judges Gianni according to 'his' ethics as a total stranger and raises his fist against his brother-in-law. And still he is never involved in the mythology and should walk away forever. Is he an incarnation of our prosaic civilization of today? The establishment that he is an American (who has a camera!) could be an irony in Visconti's own way?
By the way, recently I watched Desperate Housewives, season 2, Episode 9, "That's Good, That's Bad", and suddenly I remembered the scene in which Gianni takes out the pills and threatens Sandra : George who took the pills menaces Bree ... (so I'm writing this comment now, but I know it's an exaggerated analogy, anyway....)
Jean Sorel is heavenly beautiful. The scene in the water tower takes my breath away. César Franck's music suits the aestheticism of the director, too.
If you are an amateur of Visconti's works, you might know this one doesn't end just as in the original script. Do you think Sandra flies across the ocean to join Andrew or she buries herself in her destined blood there eternally?
Including Mourning Becomes Electra, it could be interesting to refer to also : 1. Les Enfants terribles / Jean-Pierre Melville (1950) 2. Höhenfeuer /Fredi M. Murer (1985) 3. Jeux d'artifices / Virginie Thévenet (1987) 4. La Banyera / Jesús Garay (1989 / fantastic!)
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