The Italian adventurer and libertine Giovanni Jacopo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, but in this six-part series Dennis Potter attempted to find a contemporary relevance through his ...
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The Italian adventurer and libertine Giovanni Jacopo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, but in this six-part series Dennis Potter attempted to find a contemporary relevance through his central themes of sex and religion. He commented that Casanova "was concerned with religious and sexual freedom, and these are the things we have to address ourselves to now." Casanova was imprisoned in Venice in 1755, and Potter used that event as a central device, constantly inter-cutting to contrast Casanova's amorous escapades, radiant, joyful and brightly lit, with his oppressive solitary confinement in the gloom of a half-darkened cell.Written by
Bhob Stewart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The real Giacomo Casanova was only thirty at the time of his imprisonment. Frank Finlay was forty-five when he played Casanova, so that he appears in the prison scenes to be looking back, not only over his youth, but the course of his life. See more »
When the BBC repeated the series in 1974, the six episodes were re-edited as two ninety-five minute episodes shown on consecutive nights; the chronology of the scenes was altered, with the scenes of Frank Finlay in old age now at the beginning and end and all events in-between appearing as flashbacks. See more »
This highly entertaining masterpiece is now available on DVD (region 2). Admirers of writer Dennis Potter's other masterpieces, "The Singing Detective" and "Pennies from Heaven" (the British TV series, not the Hollywood remakes) should not hesitate to buy this long forgotten gem, which goes far beyond all the known clichés of Casanova to create a penetrating and intense portrayal of a man who is at one and the same time a prisoner of his obsessive desire and liberated by them. To achieve this, Potter has Casanova's time in a terrifying Venetian prison cell (just a few pages in his ten volume autobiography) form the center of the action, with flashbacks and flash-forwards to other episodes of his life. This jumping back and forth in time was new and experimental in 1971 and proved too much for audiences then, but it works brilliantly from today's point of view, creating suspense and adding new layers of meaning, just like it does in "The Singing Detective". Frank Finlay, once the Iago to Olivier's Othello, delivers the performance of a lifetime as the haunted hero, backed by a supporting cast of the usual British high caliber. Although it does show occasionally that this is a 1971 video production, as a whole it's quite simply beautiful to watch.
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