Pangs of nostalgia are inevitable upon seeing or revisiting “L’innocente,” the 1976 film that would be Luchino Visconti’s last. The sixties and seventies were two of the most remarkable and prolific decades of cinema–Italian cinema the most idiosyncratic of all so that the works of extraordinary directors such as Fellini, Scola, Pasolini, Antonioni or Bertolucci were instantly recognizable, a treasure trove of unforgettable films.
But the master of sumptuousness, of baroque settings, of lavish visuals is Luchino Visconti. A virtuoso of magnificent scope, he dazzles with this rich palette of deep reds and browns, the depiction of luxurious gowns, grand receptions, opulent palaces, summer residences and exuberant gardens awash with blooms. As in “Gattopardo,” “Death in Venice” or “Conversation Piece,” the recently remastered “L’innocente” brings back a forgotten privileged world in a film more ponderous in rhythm than its predecessors but that keeps us fascinated with this tale of desire forgotten and reignited and of morals based on faith versus hedonism based on satisfaction of the senses. Visconti’s faithful adaptation of the novel by Gabriele d’Annunzio does justice to the Principe’s story about Tullio Hermil, the amoral aristocrat who falls out of love with his mistress to become enamored of his wife in a reversal that will hurl the protagonists toward a terrible conclusion.
100 Years of Must-see Movies | The best in Italian cinema, arranged by decades from the forties onward.