Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Senso, 1954

Another look at Visconti's SENSO induces rapture as we wallow in this opulent romantic and tragic costume drama, up there with Luchino's best recreations of that lavish past: THE LEOPARD, DEATH IN VENICE, LUDWIG, L'INNOCENTE ... films one can lose oneself in. 

This 1954 film has been nicely restored and is a key movie in the Visconti canon now. Alida Valli has one of her best roles as "the wanton countess" - one of its titles then, and Farley Granger was imported to play her reckless, selfish Austrian lover. Massimo Girotti plays her husband. Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli were assistant directors, Pierre Tosi as usual did the costumes, script by Visconti and usual collaborator Suso Cecchi D'Amico -  but with Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles as dialogue collaborators. Bruckner's 7th Symphony and Verdi's ""Il Trovatore" provide the stunning musical background to this tale of doomed love, deceit and betrayal.
Venice, 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 Livia Serpieri falls in love with vile Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler, but the times are changing.

As usual, Visconti recreates the opera house scenes and Valli gives one of the all-time great movie star performances - overlooked in that great year 1954 - while Granger is adequate and attractive as the wastrel deserter she falls passionately in love with, as he casually betrays her and takes her money which was meant for the revolutionaries. She then betrays him and he is hauled off to be executed for desertion, while she runs mad through the streets ..... its a stunning operatic climax; Or as a review at IMDB puts it: "the wealthy older woman and a 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 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." It is one of the great Italian films. More on Valli and Visconti at labels. 


  1. I saw this once, years ago, and didn't like it. Of course, as my love of Visconti has grown over the years I have to see it again, preferably on bl;u-ray.

    1. It would have to be on blu-ray of course, one simply couldn't watch it on ordinary dvd. How DID we manage back in the days of fuzzy vhs tapes.