Saturday, February 19, 2011

Luchino Visconti's "Senso" Restored For Blu-Ray & DVD

"Senso opens with a spectacular sequence set at La Fenice, Venice’s grand, gilded opera house, where Il Trovatore is being performed before an audience of Venetian aristocrats and Austrian officers. An operatic sense of amplified emotion dominates Senso, as does a theatrically heightened use of color (somber browns and dark yellows for Livia; thin, glass-bottle blues, reds and yellows for Franz). But this is an
opera without release, in which the passion of the two lovers turns inward and corrosive, leading to a final, unforgettably staged scene of betrayal."

The first disc features “The Making of Senso,” a 33-minute retrospective documentary that traces the film’s origins, from Camillo Boito’s novella to its hostile reaction by Italian film critics. Originally, the screenplay was very faithful to the source material but after going to the opera, Visconti radically changed the script. Surviving crew members tells filming anecdotes in this excellent featurette.

Also included is a visual essay by film scholar Peter Cowie in which he analyzes the film’s themes, the look and the soundtrack. He also provides fascinating biographical details on Visconti. Cowie even reads from the novella with clips from the film to illustrate how it was translated.

The second disc starts off with “The Wanton Countess,” the rarely seen English version of the film with translation by literary giants Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles.

“Viva Verdi: Visconti and Opera” features film scholars discussing the influence of Visconti’s career as an opera director on his films. Senso starts with an opera and features heightened operatic emotions. He grew up with opera and it was integral part of his life.

“Man of Three Worlds: Luchino Visconti” is a 48-minute BBC documentary on Visconti that explores his careers in film, theater and opera. There is some great vintage footage on the set of a film and clips of him at the Cannes Film Festival. This doc paints an excellent portrait of an intriguing renaissance man.

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