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With: Franco Zeffirelli, Francesco Rosi, Claudia Cardinale, Farley Granger, Charlotte Rampling, Helmut Berger, James Fox (narrator)
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Adam Low
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: English/Italian with English subtitles
Running Time: 120
Date: 03/19/2013

The Life and Times of Count Luchino Visconti (2004)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Visconti the Leopard

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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Italian director Luchino Visconti had an unusually fascinating life for a filmmaker. Born into a wealthy family with a Duke for a father, he soon embraced his homosexuality and his extreme liberal leanings -- though he remained rich until his dying day. In his 20s he bred a champion horse. He later detoured into a life of art, changing the face of opera in the 20th century by introducing Maria Callas to the world. He landed a job as an assistant to Jean Renoir, became a film director and enjoyed affairs with his male stars, notably Helmut Berger. Yet with such a fascinating story, director Adam Low manages only a passable documentary about him. It strikes a noble tone, praising the director for his genius and rarely saying anything scandalous. ("He was a tyrant," seems to be the most popular refrain.) The film shows clips of older Visconti interviews (all in English) and interviews many of Visconti's surviving actors and crew people, including Franco Zeffirelli and Francesco Rosi (both of whom became directors after assisting Visconti on his 1948 film La Terra Trema), plus Claudia Cardinale, Farley Granger, Charlotte Rampling and Berger. The movie includes clips of nine of Visconti's feature films (Ossessione, La Terra Trema, Senso, Rocco and His Brothers, The Leopard, The Damned, Death in Venice, Ludwig and The Innocent) as well as bits from his compilation films. James Fox narrates.

The Roxie Cinema in San Francisco opens The Life and Times of Count Luchino Visconti on September 24, 2004.

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