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Documentary portrait of one of Italy's finest directors, Luchino Visconti.


Adam Low
2 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Helmut Berger ... Himself
Dirk Bogarde ... Himself (archive footage)
Maria Callas ... Herself (archive footage)
Claudia Cardinale ... Herself
Alain Delon ... Himself
Meralda Caracciolo Di Melito Meralda Caracciolo Di Melito ... Herself
James Fox ... Narrator
Luchino Gastel Luchino Gastel ... Himself
Annie Girardot ... Herself
Farley Granger ... Himself
Burt Lancaster ... Himself (archive footage)
Ignazio Maccarrone Ignazio Maccarrone ... Himself
Enrico Medioli Enrico Medioli ... Himself
Charlotte Rampling ... Herself
Francesco Rosi ... Himself


Tells the intriguing story of Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, depicting in much detail his considerable neorealist impact on film as well as his work in theatre and opera. His personal story with many contrasts is also described; he was an aristocrat, a Communist Party member, a soldier, a homosexual, an artist. Includes clips from his most famous films and numerous interviews with the director's friends, relatives and collaborators. Written by Peter Brandt Nielsen

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Release Date:

19 April 2003 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Life and Times of Count Luchino Visconti See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

BBC Arena See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Unsatisfactory documentary
9 March 2008 | by marcin_kukuczkaSee all my reviews

Having seen Carlo Lizzani's documentary on Luchino Visconti, I was bound to higher expectations before watching this film made three years later by Adam Low. But the viewer like me did get dissatisfied... I faced a need for critical opinion, which I generally don't like giving due to the fact there are no documentaries that will satisfy every viewer. There are also no documentaries that will examine a theme totally. But when I read the reviews already written on this title, I also felt a bit confused. People sometimes don't know what to criticize. Therefore, to be clear, I'll divide this film into two major parts that differ considerably: the former one about Visconti before his director's career and latter one about Visconti the director.

The aristocratic background, all the hobbies, the wealth that young Luchino experienced and enjoyed are clearly presented. His effort in horse racing is mentioned as well as his relation with his mother so much disturbed after his parents' divorce. We also get a very accurate idea of where Luchino was brought up as a real count of Milano: in riches galore, with nannies, cooks with access to everything, in TRUE ARISTOCRACY. For instance, his father's splendid villa at Grazzano and other marvelous villas prove that. There is also an emphasis on Visconti's crucial visit in Paris in the 1930s where he met eminent people ("left wingers") who later had impact on his style and message in art. That clearly explains the idea of a communist with the aristocratic upbringing (a contrast at first sight).

However, the part about his director's career, which started with OSSESSIONE during WWII and ended with INNOCENTE just before the director's death in 1976, is poorly executed. His movies are not discussed well. Why? Because there are very few people who really have something to say. Franco Zeffirelli, the director, remembers the works on LA TERRA TREMA and that is all right. There are also some interviews with Franco Rosi. But later, such movies like IL GATTOPARDO, LA CADUTA DEI REI, LA MORTE A VENEZIA or LUDWIG are mostly discussed by Helmut Berger. Although I liked the actor in the role of Ludwig, I did not like the interviews of his. Moreover, some thoughts he reveals are not accurate to entail in such a documentary... There is no mention of significant works of Visconti like CONVERSATION PIECE, there are no interviews with eminent cast Burt Lancaster. A mention about Silvana Mangano and Romy Schneider should also be made. There is one footage interview with Maria Callas that appears to be interesting but that is only a short bit. Franco Zeffirelli, though I appreciate him as a director, makes fun of it all rather than says something really precious. For instance, he mentions the event how Visconti separated from him after years of service. Therefore, I say: simplified and unsatisfactory.

What I find a strong point here are footage interviews with Visconti himself. As a result, we may get his own opinion about his works. For instance, I very much appreciate the words he says about death regarding it as a normal chapter of life and as natural as birth itself. He also discusses his health problems after the stroke while filming LUDWIG.

I believe it is better to see LUCHINO VISCONTI (1999) by Carlo Lizzani than this doc. Although it is shorter and condensed as a whole, you will get a better idea of the director. Visconti would be furious about that and the fury of his usually turned people's emotions and viewpoints into stone... 4/10

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