- 1 hr 57 min
Senso is a 1954 Italian film directed by Luchino Visconti, set during the time of the Italian unification during the 1860s. The film follows the story of two lovers, the Italian Countess Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) and the Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler (Farley Granger), who become entangled in political and personal conflicts during the lead-up to the Battle of Solferino.
The film begins with Livia Serpieri attending a grand ball thrown by the Austrian occupying forces in her hometown of Venice. She becomes entranced by the dashing Lieutenant Mahler, who is in attendance at the ball. Although initially hesitant, Livia allows herself to be seduced by Mahler and the two begin an intense and passionate affair. However, Livia's loyalty and patriotism toward Italy soon come into conflict with her newfound love for the Austrian officer.
As the conflict between Italian and Austrian forces reaches a boiling point, Livia becomes increasingly torn between her loyalties. Her nationalist brother-in-law, the poet Count Serpieri (Massimo Girotti), urges her to spy on Mahler and reveal his tactics to the Italians. But Livia is unwilling to betray Mahler, and instead decides to use her influence and connections to secure his safety.
The film is a classic melodrama, with lush, evocative cinematography and a sweeping orchestral score. The central love affair between Livia and Mahler is presented as a grand, epic romance, full of passion and fraught with danger. But Senso is also a deeply political film, with themes of nationalism, betrayal, and sacrifice woven throughout. The conflict between Italy and Austria is depicted as a tragic, senseless waste of life, with civilians and soldiers alike caught in the crossfire.
One of the most striking elements of the film is its depiction of Venice. The city is presented in all its opulent, sumptuous glory, with Visconti taking advantage of its many grand palaces, churches, and canals to create a visually stunning film. But the film also presents a darker side of Venice, with the city's streets and canals filled with the wounded and dying from the conflict.
The performances in the film are uniformly excellent, with Valli and Granger both delivering powerful and nuanced performances as Livia and Mahler. Valli in particular shines, bringing a remarkable depth and complexity to her character as she grapples with conflicting loyalties and desires. Girotti is also impressive as Count Serpieri, capturing the character's bitter cynicism and disillusionment with the war.
Overall, Senso is a visually stunning and emotionally powerful film, full of grand romance and tragic sacrifice. It is a testament to Visconti's skill as a filmmaker that he is able to balance the film's sweeping, melodramatic elements with its more somber and political themes, creating a work that is both beautiful and thought-provoking.
Senso is a 1954 romance movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 57 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4.