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Italy 1954
Directed by
Luchino Visconti
115 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


This historical melo-romance set in 1866 as Garibaldi fights the Austrians in and around Venice and Verona in a campaign that would eventually produce modern Italy, stars Farley Granger as an Austrian officer and Alida Valli as the Contessa who falls in love with him.

It is a visually splendid production recreating the time and place superbly but the core matter is dramatically schematic, as the Contessa, a committed patriot, rapidly falls in love with the enemy and embarks on a mad affair that leads conveniently to their mutual destruction.  

The treatment is often described as operatic and that is not unfair – the emotional narrative moves in large steps that deprive the film of a convincing dynamic There is also little here to suggest the manner of the period and in many ways had Austria been replaced with Nazi Germany this would have worked better. Visconti would return to the Risorgimento and the moral decay of the Italian aristocracy much more successfully ten years later with The Leopard.  

FYI: There is a apparently a shortened version with dubbed dialogue written by Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles.




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