Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1954, 123 min., Italian & German w/ English subtitles
Against the backdrop of the Italian-Austrian war of unification, troubled Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) betrays her country for the love of Austrian rogue Franz Mahler (Farley Granger). As her resources dwindle, Livia realizes that their love might not be as pure as she thought. Visconti’s historical work—his first in color—is dynamically coordinated to convey emotion, with pivotal scenes underscored by Bruckner’s 7th Symphony. This was his decisive break with Neo-Realism, and despite dire production difficulties (his ideal leads, Ingrid Bergman and Marlon Brando were nixed, while a pivotal scene was censored by the Ministry of Defense). New subtitles incorporate dialogue written by Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles for the English-language version, The Wanton Contessa.
Restored by Studiocanal, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata. Restoration funding provided by Gucci, The Film Foundation, and Comitato Italia 150. A Rialto Pictures release.