DVD Review: L’INNOCENTE (directed by Luchino Visconti; digital restoration from Film Movement)

Post image for DVD Review: L’INNOCENTE (directed by Luchino Visconti; digital restoration from Film Movement)

by Tony Frankel on July 29, 2020

in CD-DVD,Film


L’innocente, Luchino Visconti’s final film released just two months after his death in 1976, is a worthwhile conclusion to his great career, a telling adaptation of Gabriele d’Annunzio’s 1892 novel about the decadence of the aristocracy in late 19th-century Italy.

Commanding the screen, Giancarlo Giannini as Tullio is an atheistic aristocrat married to Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) and carrying on a fairly open affair with the manipulative Teresa (Jennifer O’Neill). Despite his history of dalliances, Giannini not only expects his wife to understand his position but begs and demands that she listen to his romantic woes and, if at all possible, think of a way to prevent him from seeing his mistress. He views his wife as a friend and confidante — until he learns she is having a passionate affair with successful young novelist (Marc Porel).

Giannini turns in a marvelous performance, though he seems more at ease in the primarily comic first half of the film. Both women are beautiful and compelling, and Antonelli’s love scene is a highlight.

But that’s not what this review is about. Visconti is master at creating a highly designed look — a defining auteur trait. Piero Tosi’s detailed costume work and Mario Garbuglia’s production design aid to the sophisticated scenes with art, opera, fencing, and other so-called attributes of the noble life. You could spend an eternity pausing the film looking at books, flowers, and paintings — especially given Pasqualino de Santis’s sauntering cinematography.

Which is why this new digital restoration on Blu-ray from Film Movement Classics is a treasure. And if you’re into red, get ready for Teresa’s saturated splendid vivid gleaming gown — which almost pops off the screen. One of the reasons for that is not just the startling clean work done by producer David Wilentz, but that most of the film appears as if it were painted on canvas. At first I thought it was the new Blu-ray machine I got, but then I realized the film is so clear that we can see the gauzy blur that represents more than ever the moral quagmire of the characters. Visconti takes great pains to recreate a world of lush extravagance, and L’innocente looks richer than ever.

Extras include a video essay by Author Ivo Blom (“Reframing L’Innocente“) and a 16-Page Booklet with a New Essay by film critic and author Dan Callahan.

stills courtesy Film Movement

digital restoration from Film Movement Classics
released on July 14, 2020
Blu-ray | DVD | Digital (New Digital Restorations)
Italian | 126 minutes | Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
in Italian with English Subtitles
available at Film Movement and Amazon

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