Cover image for Visconti : explorations of beauty and decay
Visconti : explorations of beauty and decay
Bacon, Henry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York, NY, USA : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
ix, 285 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PN1998.3.V57 B34 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In this study, the first to consider Luchino Visconti's entire works, Henry Bacon examines the films of one of Italy's pre-eminent filmmakers against the cultural, historical, and biographical contexts in which they were made. Through analysis of his achievements, Visconti also emerges as a twentieth-century inheritor and renewer of the nineteenth-century narrative tradition, especially that of the novel and the opera.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This readable, rich study of Luchino Visconti's 14 feature and three short films grew out of the author's dissertation. Though the films remain paramount, the critical analysis draws liberally on their intellectual and political context and their production history, Visconti's work outside film, and his personal life. Shrewdly attuned to the range of cinematic expression, especially the effects of music, Bacon provides the best study to date of this major stylist, who uniquely extended 19th-century narrative traditions of opera and the novel into the new aesthetics of cinema and the radical disintegrations of the 20th century. The first section deals with the neorealist work: Ossessione, La terra trema, Bellissima, and his episode in Our Women. A chapter on the Italian family explores Rocco and His Brothers, Sandra, Conversation Piece, and the director's contribution to The Witches. Visconti's passion for German culture unites The Damned, Death in Venice, Ludwig, and his episode in Boccaccio 70. The final section focuses on interpretations of European literature: White Nights, The Stranger, the unrealized Remembrance of Things Past, and The Innocent. These groupings work well, revealing a conflicted artist torn between cynicism and idealism, money and love, loyalty and betrayal, duty and self-interest, aspiration and nostalgia, emotional involvement and intellectual detachment--and overall finding in the sensual richness of the arts a bolster against his culture's and his own death and decay. All collections. M. Yacowar; University of Calgary

Table of Contents

Part I Visconti and neorealism
1 Ossessione
2 The background, theory, and practice of neorealism
3 La Terra Trema
4 Bellissima
5 Our Women
Part II The Risorgimento Films
6 Senso
7 The Leopard
Part III The Family and Modern Italian Society
8 Visconti's two families
9 Rocco and his brothers
10 Sandra
11 The Witch Burned Alive
12 Conversation piece
Part IV Visconti and Germany
13 Visconti, Thomas Mann and two aspects of Europe
14 The Job
15 The Damned
16 Death in Venice
17 Ludwig
Part V Visconti as an interpreter of European literature
18 Experiencing literature and cinema
19 White Nights
20 The Stranger
21 Remembrance of things past
22 The Innocent
Stage productions
Unrealised film projects

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