Late-period (he’d love that description) Visconti – his second to last feature film. He was severely affected by a recent stroke when filming and needed a single setting or set piece to work in and this was perfect- a building with essentially two rooms. But, because of Visconti’s skill with set decorations and mise-en-scene, it is very cinematic (or not stage-bound)
He largely abandons his Zoom-crazy aesthetic in 1971’s Death in Venice – just 2-3 uses here
A stunner shot of a gold veranda just outside the room
Such care a detail in the mise-en-scene—he playfully obstructs the view (a la von Sternberg’s Blue Angel)- here a black sculpture blocking the frame at 14 minutes, in another instance, at 81 minutes in the apartment above, we have the white lamp shade in the middle of the frame. During the big climax dinner scene there are candles and flowers perpetually in the frame—genius work
Stars Burt Lancaster- just like The Leopard– Lancaster is great here. And like The Leopard it is about aging, generational dissonance, it’s not on the level of the 1963 masterpiece
The apartment is stunning- such décor—Visconti maybe the first wallpaper auteur (the reds at 49 minutes are a wow)- father of the melodrama to Sirk, Fassbinder for sure- Almodovar, Haynes. Furniture
Aristocratic—we’re a long way from 1948’s neorealism landmark La Terra Trema but there’s the same sort of crudeness and nihilism.
It, on purpose, almost delves into a comedy at times- Lancaster has these crude neighbors, he gets thrown into their drama, he was peaceful and alone (and sad) and now the phone is ringing, people pounding on the door, that awful bird squawking — the Silvana Mangano character is a monster
So much Fassbinder here- you can see the influence (though by now in 1974 we’re in the middle of Fassbinder’s amazing run)—angry, anarchic verbal, dazzling to look at
In-line with Visconti as an auteur- the tapestries covering his walls
Great review as always.
I’m rather new here, Do you allow for people to contact you directly at all?
@victor- thanks for the kind words on the review and welcome to the site. I keep my eye on comments on all the pages throughout the day so feel free to share.
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