In an atmosphere of political tension when the French still control Algiers, an Algerian is killed on the beach and a French man who has lived in Algiers all his life is arrested for the ... See full summary »
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
***User-reviewer bennyraldak ("Forbidden desire", bennyraldak from Netherlands, 4 September 2009) sees "Sandra" as being focused on Claudia Cardinale's character's demons. Ilpo Hirvonen ("The decay of an aristocratic family", Ilpo Hirvonen from Finland, 21 September 2010) has a good general summary.***
Luchino Visconti's Sandra (1965), is a puzzling but splendorous visual treat that depicts incest, homo-eroticism, madness and collaboration with the Nazis. Its fairly slow pacing and reluctance to make obvious useful information will challenge those who spend hours a day gazing down at their QWERTY devices. However, "Sandra" is very rich and satisfying; it is flawlessly served up by the great Visconti. (I like it more than "The Leopard.")
A modernized retelling of the Greek myth Electra, an attractive, upper-class, socialite couple (Claudia Cardinale in the eponymous role, Michael Craig as her husband Andrew) return to the mansion of Sandra's youth (which she was forced to flee), to attend a small ceremony honoring her father, who was murdered by the Nazis at a concentration camp. When she is reunited with her unstable brother, Gianni (Jean Sorel), the physical connection between them is made very obvious. Their closer-than-normal relationship is never a secret to the audience, but revealing it is a big concern to Andrew and other observers, such as Sandra's barrister stepfather Gilardini (Renzo Ricci). The perpetually nervous Gilardini and Sandra's clinically insane mother (Marie Bell) may also have collaborated with the Nazis by betraying Sandra's father, creating an unusual conflict of pairs.
Shot in high-contrast Black and White, Visconti's skill at shooting his photogenic cast in tight quarters is evident. Because the English translation of the film is somewhat talky, it helps to develop the skill of quickly reading the subtitles in order to enjoy Visconti's work. It is amazing how precise and detailed the imagery is. The scenes between the anguished brother and steely sister are frequently filled with erotic tension. Visconti's trademark homo-eroticism is also present, but to a smaller degree.
One of the more interesting characters is Sandra's "first love" who is now a physician. He seems to personify not just a mixture of Sandra's husband and her brother, but also the Nazi collaborator Gilardini. At least, that's my interpretation of the final image.
Visconti's depiction of a decaying aristocratic family has great depth, and fans of the great director will not be disappointed with it.
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