Luchino Visconti


Director

About

Also Known As
Don Luchino Visconti Dimodrone
Birth Place
Italy
Born
November 02, 1906
Died
March 17, 1976
Cause of Death
Influenza And Heart Disease

Biography

Luchino Visconti occupies a unique place in the history of world cinema; he is the most Italian of internationalists, the most operatic of realists, and the most aristocratic of Marxists. Although one of the progenitors of the Italian neorealist movement, Visconti, with his love of spectacle and historical panorama, would seem to have more in common with Orson Welles or even Erich von St...

Family & Companions

Helmut Berger
Companion
Actor.
Bjorn Andersen
Companion
Actor.

Bibliography

"Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay"
Henry Bacon (1998)

Notes

"I was impelled toward the cinema by, above all, the need to tell stories of people who were alive, of people living amid things and not of the things themselves. The cinema that interests me is an anthropomorphic cinema. The most humble gestures of man, his bearing, his feelings, and instincts are sufficient to make the things that surround him poetic and alive. The significance of the human being, his presence, is the only thing that could dominate the images. The ambience that it creates and the living presence of its passions give them life and depth. And its momentary absence from the luminous rectangle gives to everything an appearance of dead nature." Visconti (1943).

Biography

Luchino Visconti occupies a unique place in the history of world cinema; he is the most Italian of internationalists, the most operatic of realists, and the most aristocratic of Marxists. Although one of the progenitors of the Italian neorealist movement, Visconti, with his love of spectacle and historical panorama, would seem to have more in common with Orson Welles or even Erich von Stroheim than with Rossellini or De Sica. Directors as diverse as Bertolucci, Scorsese, Coppola and Fassbinder have named him as a major influence.

Born to an aristocratic family, Visconti spent the pre-WWII years in Paris, soaking up the intellectual, cultural and political currents of the time. His close association with Jean Renoir led to his decision to become a filmmaker, although he continued throughout his life to devote part of his considerable energies to the theater and opera. An active anti-fascist, he managed to escape persecution by the Mussolini government until the final days of the war. He directed his first film, "Ossessione" (1942) during the war years. An unauthorized adaptation of the James M. Cain novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice," the film avoided overt political content but was still censored by the Fascists for "obscenity," perhaps because of its raw and naturalistic portrayal of the lovers' affair.

Immediately after the war, Visconti turned his attention to opera and theater, but in 1948, he made his most overtly Marxist film, the powerful "La Terra Trema," an adaptation of Giovanni Verga's classic novel about life in a poor Sicilian fishing village. In 1951, Visconti changed pace again, with one of his few attempts at satire, "Bellissima," which records the attempts of an indefatigable stage mother, brilliantly played by Anna Magnani, to get her little daughter into the movies.

Another complete turn, this time to the period of the Risorgimento, produced the brilliant "Senso" (1954), a filmic opera of revolution, illicit love and betrayal which even incorporates sections from Verdi's "Il Trovatore." In 1957, Visconti offered a very theatrical version of Dostoevsky's "White Nights," starring Marcello Mastroianni and Maria Schell, and in 1960 he made his final foray into working-class life, "Rocco and His Brothers," a potent domestic tragedy portraying the difficulties encountered by a Sicilian peasant family transplanted because of economic need to the industrial North. Visconti's next film, a haunting, elegiac adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa's novel "The Leopard" (1963), was an account of an aristocratic Sicilian family faced with enormous social changes during the late 19th century. Although awarded the Golden Palm at Cannes, it was severely edited for US audiences and not restored for almost twenty years.

In the unjustly neglected "Sandra" (1965), Visconti deals for the first time with the Italian Resistance, through the story of a wealthy woman haunted by an incestuous relationship with her brother and the knowledge that her mother had betrayed her father, a Jew, to the Nazis. Following an excellent adaptation of Camus' "The Stranger" (1967), Visconti abandoned himself finally to his greatest loves--opera and politics--in "The Damned" (1969), a truly Wagnerian account of the fall of a German industrial family in its capitulation to the evils of Hitler and the SS. Two more "German decadence" films followed: "Death in Venice" (1971), far more Visconti than Thomas Mann, and "Ludwig" (1972), a colorful rendition of the life of the "mad" King Ludwig of Bavaria. The homoeroticism which provocatively tinged even the gay filmmaker's earliest films finally, if not unproblematically, had come to the fore.

Visconti made two final films, "Conversation Piece" (1975), a semi-autobiographical story of an elderly intellectual confounded by a new Italy in which the vulgar materialism of the new bourgeoisie clashes with the sometimes desperate alienation and militancy of radicalized youth, and "L'Innocente" (1976), based on Gabrielle d'Annunzio's novel of upper-class adultery. They reveal signs of his declining powers but still testify to a dedication to art, beauty, social justice and human values that were the motivating forces behind this extraordinary talent.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

L'Innocente (1976)
Director
Ossessione (1976)
Director
Conversation Piece (1974)
Director
Ludwig (1972)
Director
Death in Venice (1971)
Director
The Damned (1969)
Director
Senso (1968)
Director
The Witches (1968)
Director of "The Witch Burned Alive"
The Stranger (1967)
Director
Lo Straniero (1967)
Director
The Witches (1967)
Director
Sandra (1966)
Director
The Leopard (1963)
Director
Boccaccio '70 (1962)
Director of "The Job"
White Nights (1961)
Director
Rocco and His Brothers (1961)
Director
Of Life and Love (1958)
Director ("The Lapdog")
Appunti su un fatto di Cronaca (1953)
Director
Siamo Donne (1953)
Director ("Anna Magnani")
Bellissima (1951)
Director
La terra trema (1947)
Director
Giorni di Gloria (1945)
Director ("Lynching Of Carretta "Caruso Trial")

Cast (Feature Film)

La terra trema (1947)

Writer (Feature Film)

Ossessione (1976)
Screenplay
L'Innocente (1976)
Screenwriter
Ossessione (1976)
Writer (Adaptation)
Conversation Piece (1974)
Screenwriter
Ludwig (1972)
From Story
Ludwig (1972)
Screenwriter
Death in Venice (1971)
Screenwriter
The Damned (1969)
Screenwriter
Senso (1968)
Screenwriter
The Stranger (1967)
Screenwriter
Sandra (1966)
Screenwriter
The Leopard (1963)
Screenwriter
Boccaccio '70 (1962)
Screenplay for "The Job"
Rocco and His Brothers (1961)
Screenwriter
Rocco and His Brothers (1961)
Story
White Nights (1961)
Screenwriter
Rocco and His Brothers (1961)
Dial
Bellissima (1951)
Screenplay
La terra trema (1947)
Screenwriter

Producer (Feature Film)

Death in Venice (1971)
Producer

Music (Feature Film)

La terra trema (1947)
Music chosen by

Film Production - Construction/Set (Feature Film)

Un Partie de Campagne (1936)
Props

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Toni (1968)
Apprentice
Toni (1936)
Production Assistant

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Un Partie de Campagne (1936)
Other

Life Events

1926

Served in Reggimento Savoia Cavalleria

1928

Debut as stage set designer

1937

Made brief, disillusioning visit to Hollywood

1942

Film directing debut with "Ossessione" (also co-screenplay)

1945

Directed first play, Cocteau's "Parenti terrible/Les Parents terribles" in Rome; continued as stage director

1954

Directed first opera, "La vestale" in Milan

1976

Last film, "L'Innocente"

Photo Collections

The Leopard - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (1963), starring Burt Lancaster. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - Teeth Like A Wolf Weeks into their impoverished residence in Milan, southern Italian Rocco (Alain Delon) watches as his brother Simone (Renato Salvatori) gets some attention from a boxing promoter (Paolo Stoppa), about whom they perhaps should be suspicious, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - There's Work For Everybody! Arriving in Milan from Lucania in the south, widow Signora Parondi (Katina Paxinou) leads her brood (Spiros Focas, Max Cartier, Renato Salvatori, young Rocco Vidolazzi, and Alain Delon as "Rocco"), who see snow for the first time, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - If A Real Man Wants A Woman On the snow day in Milan, eldest brother Vincenzo (Spiros Focas) grabs the chance to visit with almost-ex girlfriend Ginetta (Claudia Cardinale), their families since his poor relations arrived from the south, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - It's Like Daylight Director Luchino Visconti's family Parondi arrives from "Lucania" in the south, at Milan, Katina Paxinou the widowed mother, Renato Salvatori as Simone, Alain Delon as Rocco, Max Cartier as Ciro, Rocco Vidolazzi as young Luca, camera by Giuseppe Rotunno, opening Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Rocco And His Brothers (1960) - Northern Skin Simone, Rocco, Ciro and Luca (Renato Salvatori, Alain Delon, Max Cartier, Rocco Vidolazzi) haven't realized that Nadia (Annie Girardot), given shelter by Vincenzo (Spiros Focas) is likely a working girl, their mom (Katina Paxinou) more savvy, in Luchino Visconti's Rocco And His Brothers, 1960.
Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights) - He Was A Foreigner Natalia (Maria Schell) is at last warming to Mario (Marcello Mastroianni), so she begins to open up about her life, allowing director Luchino Visconi's first departure from reality, introducing "The Lodger," Jean Marais, in Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights), 1961.
Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights) - I May Be Too Bold Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) has returned to the bar where he met Natalia (Maria Schell, speaking Italian she learned in two weeks) the night before, where she didn't quite promise to meet him again, early in Luchino Visconti's Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights), 1961.
Death In Venice (1971) - Opening, von Aschenbach Ending the credits by director Count Luchino Visconti (descendant of the 13th century Milanese dynasty), with music from composer Gustav Mahler, and the liminal introduction of the protagonist, composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), from Death In Venice, 1971.
Death In Venice (1971) - A Long Period Of Complete Rest Arrived in 1911 Venice, ailing German composer von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) gets too much attention from his hotel manager (Romolo Valli), then reflects on earlier events, Mark Burns as his concerned student Alfried, early in Luchino Visconti’s Death In Venice, 1971.
Death In Venice (1971) - The Artists Are Rather Like Hunters Convalescing composer von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) grows more fascinated with the Polish boy (Bjorn Andresen) then reflects once more on conversation with his student Alfried (Mark Burns), Luchino Visconti directing, from the Thomas Mann novella, in Death In Venice, 1971.
Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights) - This Young Lady Is With Me! Office worker Mario (Marcello Mastroianni) has just been dropped off by his new boss in director Luchino Visconti's realistic but 100% artificial recreation of Livorno, sort of meeting Natalia (Maria Schell), early in Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights), 1961, from a Dostoyevsky short story.
Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights) - You Neglect Life And Reality Not a scene you'll see in every Luchino Visconti movie, timid Mario and frightened Natalia (Marcello Mastroianni, Maria Schell) try to loosen up in a bar in the director's imaginary version of Livorno, in Le Notti Bianche (a.k.a. White Nights), 1961.

Family

Giuseppe Visconti
Father
Son of the Duke of Modrone.
Carla Visconti
Mother
Daughter of millionaire industrialist; separated from husband in 1921.
Eriprando Visconti
Nephew
Director, screenwriter. Began career as an assistant director on his uncle's "We the Women" (1952); died on May 26, 1995 of pulmonary emphysema.

Companions

Helmut Berger
Companion
Actor.
Bjorn Andersen
Companion
Actor.

Bibliography

"Visconti: Explorations of Beauty and Decay"
Henry Bacon (1998)

Notes

"I was impelled toward the cinema by, above all, the need to tell stories of people who were alive, of people living amid things and not of the things themselves. The cinema that interests me is an anthropomorphic cinema. The most humble gestures of man, his bearing, his feelings, and instincts are sufficient to make the things that surround him poetic and alive. The significance of the human being, his presence, is the only thing that could dominate the images. The ambience that it creates and the living presence of its passions give them life and depth. And its momentary absence from the luminous rectangle gives to everything an appearance of dead nature." Visconti (1943).