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Author Topic: Visconti and Pasolini  (Read 2555 times)
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« on: July 04, 2005, 04:49:17 PM »

I've really been wanting to get to know Visconti and Pasolini's movies.

The Leopard is #1 on my "Must get" movie list and I know that's a well known classic, but I also think that Senso, Rocco and his Brothers, The Damned, Death in Venice and Ludwig look great and I'd like to get them in that order for now. Are they really great movies? Would any of them be best to get last or are they all great? What other Visconti movies are great? I've heard mixed feelings about The Damned and Ludwig and I was wondering what you people thought of them?

The movies that interest me concerning Pasolini are Medea, Oedipus Rex, Decameron, Canteburry Tales, and Arabian Knights, but that guy has so many movies I wouldn't know what else to look out for. Any suggestions?

While we're on the subject of these two, what would you consider your favorite films from these fellows?

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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2005, 06:18:51 PM »

I've only seen ossessione, but it was fantastic.

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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2005, 03:18:01 PM »

This is, at least in my opinion (but even some other people's too) Visconti's (not exactly my favorite director) best film:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043332/

followed by:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040866/

Two movies quite different from his following production.

Pasolini absolute masterpiece (my opinion, of course) is his episode in:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056171/

Together with:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054599/

I also like the two shorts with totÚ, expecially:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062779/

Magnificient of course are also Mamma Roma, Il vangelo and Decameron. I have seen recentlly seen for the third time (well, actually I went through it with ff button pressed on) SalÚ and, as in the previous two, perhaps even worse, didn't like it at all.






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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2005, 05:28:07 PM »

I would say that a few of these films, whatever their cinematic merits, need a bit of awareness of Italian history behind 'em, otherwise you'll be left a bit puzzled about many of their finer points.

I saw SENSO in a Glasgow rep cinema many years ago (I was 18), and while I could appriciate the spectacle, I didn't really understand what the hell was going on. I also knew that Farley Granger was a bloody awful actor in it, out performed by most of the props, but I didn't get the context.

THE LEOPARD similarly, I saw round about the same time. Astounding visuals, much more going on plot wise than SENSO, but again I wasn't in much sympathy with the character's motives, not knowing much about Italian history of that period.

DEATH IN VENICE on the other hand is a very simple allegory dragged out to enormous lengths, and despite its once huge reputation, it now seems overblown and self indulgent. I have a soft spot for it though, but for me, the best film ever made in Venice was Nic Roeg's horror film DON'T LOOK NOW.

Compared to most of aristo Visconti's other work, his Milanese, home town set ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS is probabaly still his best movie, a fairly gruelling, brutal melodrama.

I'd be curious to see a lot of this material again myself, as I have been to Italy many times since I was a teenage kid, and know a helluva lot more about its history these days. I'm sure I would see Visconti's work in a new light. However...

As for Pasolini. I've never enjoyed a single film he ever made. I've tried damnit, I've tried. I must have seen all his major movies, but not one has made much of an impression. I find them quite boring, and even amaturish (his "Christian" films especially). I know this is a legacy of Neo Realism, but there is "realism" and just plain old bad film making.

His work still has a powerful reputation here in Britain because of our absurd censorship laws. For decades SALO was banned in the UK. Recently though it was passed uncut. No big deal. If you want real horror, read the De Sade novel, or a book about Mussolini's government of Italy. Give me Fellini or Leone any day.

*Must admit I haven't seen "Ro.Go.Pa.G."

« Last Edit: July 14, 2005, 05:30:09 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2005, 06:00:07 PM »

Just saw _Le Notti Bianche_ (the new Criterion DVD has a stunningly good transfer) and it is a brilliant movie. The set, cinematography, story, performances: riveting. Cinematic and theatrical techniques are perfectly balanced for once. Visconti could really make movies there for a while, but it all went horribly wrong somehow. After The Leopard he really lost his way.

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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2005, 06:25:31 PM »

I've only seen ossessione, but it was fantastic.
A masterpiece!

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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2005, 07:13:27 PM »

Just got The Damned and Death in Venice. The Damned was entertaining but for me it was also confusing as hell.

I LOVED Death in Venice. The only movie I could say I had the urge to watch twice in the same week(Or month for that matter). One of the most saddest but very true to life of struggling in mental isolation I have ever seen. The last half hour was sad as hell Sad Beautiful movie, great use of photography and music.

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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2005, 02:42:25 PM »

I got Il Gattopardo a few weeks back and I didn't like it too much. I'm fine with long, slow-paced films (obviously), but I don't know, there just wasn't enough there to suck me in.

Having said that, it may well grow on me.

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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 04:33:11 AM »

The Damned:

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Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969) falls just short of a masterpiece. It's a warped large-scale melodrama, tying the self-destruction of a German steel family to the rise of Nazism. Only some questionable plotting hurts a remarkable film.

German steel magnate Joachim von Essenbeck (Albrecht Schoenhals) is murdered on February 27th, 1933, the day of the Reichstag fire. Police suspect Joachim's liberal nephew Herbert Thall (Umberto Orsini), but it was actually Frederick Bruckmann (Dirk Bogarde), angry at being passed over for Essenbeck's presidency. With the help of SS leader Aschenbach (Helmut Griem) Frederick secures the presidency in exchange for arms and political support. But Frederick faces internal rivals: Joachim's perverted son Martin (Helmut Berger), the "rightful heir"; his cousin, SA roughneck Konstantin (Rene Koldehoff); and most dangerous of all, Martin's mother Sophie (Ingrid Thulin).

Visconti trades The Leopard and Senso's melancholy for a darker portrait of aristocratic decay. Old-line Joachim carefully carved out corporate independence, which his heirs abandon in their scramble for power. Frederick's so single-minded that he's easily manipulated by both Sophie and Aschenbach. Martin first appears in drag and quickly proves a child molester. One victim kills herself, leaving Martin open to blackmail by Konstantin. Konstantin himself is checkmated when the Brownshirts fall out of favor. The Essenbecks are above the law, yet vulnerable to extortion: reputation is more important than legality. Aschenbach does little more than let the Essenbecks eat themselves alive.

The Damned brilliantly contrasts upper-class suicide with Nazism. Historically Hitler easily co-opted industries like Krupp and IG Farben, dispelling fears of National Socialism with lucrative contracts. We see Nazi officials in conflict with the populist SA, the class-minded Wehrmacht and big industry. Aschenbach manipulates each faction, appeasing them until they can be subsumed by the state. Ernst Rohm's SA is eliminated wholesale, the Army and Essenbeck forced to cut deals. Decadent aristocracy gives way to a frightening New Order, whose outward morality masks a far greater evil.

Visconti subverts his usual photographic elegance, here shooting in dark tones emphasizing squalid details. The film's centerpiece is an SA retreat which degenerates into a drunken orgy and finally a massacre when SS death squads arrive. Drawing loosely on the Night of the Long Knives, when Hitler purged the unreliable Brownshirts, it's a hypnotic spectacle of depravity and graphic violence.
The Damned only falters in its last half hour. Having so effectively set the stage, Visconti rushes the plot, tying up loose ends without resolving them. One character makes an unexpected 11th hour reappearance without registering much. Then there's Martin's crowning act of depravity: he goes from credible monster to cartoon grotesque. The final wedding scene is a macabre anti-climax, summed up with a trite double exposure effect.

Dirk Bogarde heads a flawless ensemble. He plays against-type as a frightening power-grabber shocked when events turn against him. Rene Koldehoff makes a cheerfully hateful thug; his paunchy figure and gravelly dubbing voice recall a Teutonic Lee J. Cobb. Renaud Verley gets an affecting character arc, going from sensitive musician to vengeful Nazi. Charlotte Rampling and Florinda Bolkan have minor roles.

Three performers standout. Helmut Berger (Visconti's then-lover) is a genuinely disturbing monster, all preening mannerisms, scarce-hidden perversion and whiny entitlement. Ingrid Thulin makes a chilling reptilian schemer crossing Queen Gertrude and Lady Macbeth. Helmut Griem's SS chief is the real villain, a charming but cold-blooded ideologue who makes mincemeat of the Essenbecks.

The Damned is a fine movie. Perhaps some script fine-tuning (and downplaying of sordidness) would have helped, but it's still a profoundly unsettling experience. 8/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-damned.html

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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 09:40:16 AM »

Death in Venice:

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Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice (1971) is an overblown curiosity. This adaptation of Thomas Mann's novella is an aesthetic masterwork, anchored by Dirk Bogarde's commendable performance. Unfortunately, it lacks the dramatic weight to match its epic pretensions.

Hack composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) arrives in turn-of-the-century Venice on holiday. He leaves behind a tragic past: a rivalry with fellow composer Alfred (Mark Burns), a shattered marriage (Marissa Berenson) and a family tragedy. Aschenbach considers beauty as an intellectual construct, a view challenged when he meets teenaged Tadzio (Bjorn Andersen). Aschenbach grows obsessed with Tadzio, following him around Venice and even changing his appearance. But Aschenbach's new-found love takes a backseat when cholera strikes the city.

If nothing else, Death in Venice offers a sumptuous sensory experience. As with The Leopard, Visconti mixes impeccable costumes and period detail with gorgeous compositions. He matches the overcrowded hotel and dusty Venice streets with verdant flashbacks and a finale framed like a Renaissance painting. Ever-present flowers subtly introduce a death motif. Coupled with Gustav Mahler's music, dialogue-free passages of Aschenbach riding a gondola or hotel guests dining have the hypnotic effect of 2001's spaceship scenes or Sergio Leone's ritualized duels. Death is certainly never dull.

But Visconti's artistry serves a simplistic plot. Death provides a simple "coming-out" story: a repressed homosexual faces his identity, accepts himself and dies a happy man. Perhaps if Aschenbach was better-developed, his dilemma would seem poignant rather than an exercise in self-torture. Similarly, Visconti's thematic pondering on art and mortality might register more strongly if they weren't restricted to flashbacks and an occasional gripe about plague warnings. Visconti provides operatic grandeur when a low-key approach would work better.

Dirk Bogarde admirably shoulders a character who in less rarefied hands would seem a creepy pederast. He does well conveying inner turmoil with meaningful glances and pathetic gestures; his self-embrace at a nighttime encounter with Tadzio is particularly effecting. Visconti symbolizes Aschenbach's quest for youth in cruder ways: in a particularly facile touch, Bogarde dons ghoulish makeup and runny hair dye for the finale. His life as a failed artist, all theory and no skill, emerges only in hamfisted debates with Alfred. Bogarde's more grounded characters in The Servant and Victim are more compelling.

Of the supporting cast there's not much to say. Bjorn Andersen embodies the youthful beauty required of Tadzio. Still, it's not really a performance. Romolo Valli's (Duck You Sucker) obsequious hotelier provides light comic relief. Marissa Berenson rehearses her meaningful glance style perfected in Barry Lyndon; Mark Burns (Charge of the Light Brigade) provides hammy ranting as Bogarde's fellow composer.

As sensual art, Death in Venice is fascinating. But it's certainly not the masterpiece Visconti wants it to be. Any thematic conceits become overwhelmed by luscious imagery and the protagonist's agonizing angst.  7/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2013/01/death-in-venice.html

Review of The Leopard forthcoming.

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