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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
She's not that innocent.April 26 2009
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"L'Innocente" was the final film from Italian director, Luchino Visconti, and stands up to his greatest achievements. Laura Antonelli, one of the most alluring stars of 70s Italian cinema, stars as Giuliana Hermil, a beautiful aristocrat who is ignored by her philandering husband, Tullio (Giancarlo Giannini). Everywhere Giuliana goes, she is confronted by the most recent of her husband's conquests, the sensual Teresa Raffo (Jennifer O'Neill). After being embarrassed once too often, Giuliana decides to turn the tables and make her husband jealous. However, she underestimates the power of her plan as well as her husband's passion for her, which results in mounting tragedies.
Adapted from the 1892 novel by Gabriele d'Annunzio, the script for "The Innocent" is extremely good, with Giuliana's revenge beautifully plotted. At times, it's difficult to tell her intentions, but that doesn't really distract from the story. The cast is also one of the most stunning looking in history - Antonelli, O'Neill, and Giannini are joined by doe-eyed Didier Haudepin as Giannini's younger brother (he starred 12 years earlier in the notorious French film, "This Special Friendship"). Their physical beauty rivals the sumptuous Italian villas and scenery with which Visconti populates the film.
I'm not sure why it took until 2009 for this near-masterpiece to be released on DVD, but fortunately they did a nice job. The film looks gorgeous. The subtitles are a bit verbose which makes them go by very quickly (I sometimes had to pause to read all of them), but we do get every delicious word of the screenplay. The extras are limited to an interview on Italian cinema with Suso Cecchi d'Amico, a long-time Visconti collaborator who co-wrote "L'Innocente."
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Tragic, haunting, brilliant....May 28 2009
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This is the final film of Italy's grandest, most operatic filmmaker (and still underrated) Luchino Visconti. For years, this film was really hard to find. It was only available in lousy, faded VHS copies, some of them pan and scan, others in the wrong aspect ratio. Now Koch Lorber has put it out in a wonderful, luxurious transfer, and in its orignal 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
This film is so rich visually that you could just watch it once without the sound, and marvel at the cinematography (by longtime Visconti colloberator Pasqualino de Santis) or at the production design, which is drop dead gorgeous. The music score is incredibly haunting and sad, much like Visconti's superlative use of music in his film of Death in Venice. The performances are also striking. Giancarlo Giannini, known to most film buffs from his hilarious performances in Lina Wertmueller's classic films, gives a fine dramatic performance here, completely believable, and there was no time while watching this film did I think of his comic performances. He's an excellent dramatic actor. Jennifer O'Neil, who is best known for Summer of '42, is excellent as the beautiful but vile mistress of Gianni. Laura Antonelli, who plays Giannini's wife, gives the deepest performance of the woman who is scorned by Giannini, but exacts a revenge on him that is heartbreaking and tragic.
The film is beautifully paced, very leisurely, and visually intoxicating. Visconti was incapacitated by a stroke while making this film, but you wouldn't know it from watching it. Even though he was ill, Luchino never lost his touch, and his artistry/genius shines through every frame here, from the opening credits sequence (which features Visconti's own hand turning pages of the book L'Innocente) to the final, haunting still shot of O'Neil. It's a great final film (even though an artist never intends any work to be their "final" one), and a masterpiece from arguably the most complex of the Italian greats.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Love! Is a Many-Splendored ... What?Dec 8 2011
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A torrid tragedy? A turgid travesty? A lurid melodrama? I've never read Gabrielle D'Annunzio, from whose 1892 novel L'Innocente this film was scripted, but I suspect the scriptwriters have been devoutly faithful to the author. The film is torrid, lurid, melodramatic, and tragic enough for the most romance-obsessed viewer, and yet it also rather sardonically depicts a moral travesty. The consequences of Love -- passionate Love, Eros rather than Agape -- are disastrous: cruelty, immorality, betrayal, murder, and suicide. Yes sirree, it's a red velvet, diamond-choker, bodice-ripper of a melodrama. Since I haven't read D'Annunzio, I don't know how stylish his writing was, but the plot of this film could be handled very neatly in a Harlequin Romance. It's also a bit of a skin flick, with righteously torrid scenes between Laura Antonelli (the neglected wife) and Giancarlo Giannini (the neglectful husband whose concupiscence is re-invigorated by jealousy). Antonelli is gorgeous, but her 'rival' Jennifer O'Neill (Tullio's mistress) is even more gorgeous, wherefore one could complain that she isn't given equal uncoverage in the film.
Oh, it is a gorgeous film. The salons and boudoirs of the elite effete of Italian wealth and 'family' are sumptuously photographed. The costumes of the ladies wafting their beauty like potent perfumes through those salons are delectable to the eyes. Life among the aristocracy of the late 19th C was, it seems, deliciously lax and lazy ... and I wish I'd been there! Gabrielle D'Annunzio was prolific, flamboyant, an adventurer and aviator, and a devout voluptuary, so there has to be an intended ambiguity in the film's portrayal of the husband Tullio, in that Tullio's expressed values are exactly what d'Annunzio manifested, yet Tullio's fate implies the inevitable failure of those values.
D'Annunzio was fabulously popular as a writer but his career extended into politics and social agitation. He was an immense influence on the thinking and the behavior of Benito Mussolini; it's said the Mussolini modeled his public image on a character from a d'Annunzio novel. ""D'Annunzio has been described as the John the Baptist of Italian Fascism, as virtually the entire ritual of Fascism was invented by D'Annunzio during his occupation of Fiume and his leadership of the Italian Regency of Carnaro. These included the balcony address, the Roman salute, the cries of 'Eia, eia, eia! Alala!', the dramatic and rhetorical dialogue with the crowd, the use of religious symbols in new secular settings. It also included his economics of the corporate state; stage tricks; large emotive nationalistic public rituals; blackshirted followers with their disciplined, bestial responses and strong-arm repression of dissent."" One of D'Annunzio's most revealing novels is Il Fuoco of 1900, in which he portrays himself as the "Nietzschean" Superman Stelio Effrena, in a fictionalized account of his love affair with Eleonora Duse.
And there we have it again, the Romantic cult of the Exceptional Individual, the World Hero, the man superior to the morality of and indifferent to the welfare of the 'common horde' of humanity. D'Annunzio was indisputably the Ayn Rand of his land and language.
But hey, let's not hold THAT against this voluptuous film by the brilliant Italian director Luchino Visconti. In fact, Visconti's keen eye for the repulsiveness and emptiness of D'Annunzio's "beautiful people" is what saves this film from being mere over-ripe escapism. Pay attention, if you watch it, to the dignity and disapproval of the servants in those salons. They're the monitors of sanity and decency in this lascivious culture.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful...Tragic...Thought-provoking...and a GOOD remaster (to boot!) of a 1970s film!Sept. 23 2011
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The DVD of the Luchino Visconti film titled "L'Innocente" L'Innocente and produced by Koch-Lorber has a surprisingly good DIGITAL restoration of this film recorded in the 1970's. It is also the full 127-minute version, not the shorter 112-minute version (which I think is the edited American version that has a few scenes of minimal male and female nudity deleted). The dubbing (in Italian) of Jennifer O'Neil's voice, however, was NOT great. She plays the role of the mistress to the rich Italian aristocrat who is the main character in the film. I think (contrary to some other reviewers) that Jennifer was quite good. On the other hand, the other actors were TERRIFIC, but then, they speak in Italian (likely their native tongue), while Jennifer, whose lips you can read, speaks her lines in English and her voice is DUBBED in Italian. Reminded me of another really great film by the same Italian director, Luchino Visconti, titled "The Leopard" The Leopard (The Criterion Collection) The Leopard (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray], with Burt Lancaster, who plays an Italian aristocrat also, but older and wiser, even if somewhat less attractive. The main actor in L'Innocent portrays a younger and perhaps more physically / sexually appealing aristocrat. In the Criterion version of "The Leopard," Burt Lancaster speaks his lines in English, while the rest of the cast speak in Italian! Oddly enough however, in "L'Innocente", I thought the audio track made all the actors' voices sound as though they had been added in; the audio just doesn't sound the way I'm accustomed to hearing voices in a film. The Criterion editions (both the regular DVD and the Blu-ray versions) of "The Leopard" offer an Italian audio track as well as one in which you hear Lancaster speaking his lines in English. The version in which Lancaster speaks in English is, to my taste, MUCH better that the dubbed Italian version! This is where Criterion shines above Koch-Lorber, as least with regard to effort put into viewing and listening options, but then again one PAYS a much higher price for Criterion versions that have those options!
The picture quality, when viewed on a DVD player with upgrading ability (I used a SONY Blu-ray player), is EXCELLENT, but the sound (as I mentioned above) doesn't fare quite as well, but that did not detract from my appreciation of the film. The film's story and eventual outcome definitely linger long after viewing. I think one of the tragedies in the story is the revelation of this rich man's particularly sad interpretation of life.
There was no commentary (which I would have thoroughly appreciated), but there was an interesting interview with the film's screenwriter (Suso Cecchi d'Amico). Although the interview did not shed much information on the film, it did go into how she became a screenwriter, and that was "ok."
CAUTION: If you don't like subtitles, you will not enjoy this film...the only audio track is in Italian (with English subtitles)...even the interview with the film's screenwriter. Personally, I found myself pausing the disc every now and then to go back to make sure I caught all the subtitle text, because sometimes it just went by too quickly for me. Thank goodness, however, Koch-Lorber used a yellow color for the subtitles, unlike CRITERION editions that seem always to use a ghostly white-color that becomes literally INVISIBLE in scenes with light or white backgrounds (grrrrr!).
All in all, this is a haunting story, beautifully captured on film and nicely remastered on DVD by Koch-Lorber. Highly recommended!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not D'Annunzio's L'InnocenteAug. 6 2012
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I enjoy this glorious movie over and over, but it's not D'Annunzio's book. Visconti has used the skeleton of L'Innocente to tell Visconti's story which is a kind of Classic Comic book version of the psychological novel based on the philosophy of Nietzsche. Tullio's suicide in the movie is Visconti's judgment, not D'Annunzio's. D'Annunzio's (and Nietzsche's) Uebermenschen are outside of judgment They don't kill themselves. Neither is the book Giuliana's revenge log.
In the book, a much alive but agonizing Tullio is confessing his secret crime on the first anniversary of the child's murder. He could go before a judge but he can not and will not. "Non posso ne voglio." He only wants a listener. "Man's justice does not touch me. No tribunal on earth would know how to judge me. . . .I need to tell my secret to someone but to whom?" And that "whom" is the reader who should be thinking of one of D'Annunzio's literary heroes, Dostoyevsky. And if the reader were in Italy in 1892 when the book was published, he/she would note while reading, that Tullio's adultery situation follows pretty closely that of D'Annunzio's most current. In fact, some Italian critics describe this book as more autobiography than romanzo.
Because of Italian inheritance laws and the construction of Tulio's family, the newborn, Raimondo, named after Tullio's father, but not of Tullio's blood, will inherit Tullio's estate. Tullio and Guiliana have two girls and Tullio's Tolstoy-like brother is childless. The assumed father of the newborn is suffering from what is described as bulbar paralysis (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease) but the symptoms could also belong to those of syphilis. Both diseases can be hereditary. Consequently, the "purity of blood" idea becomes twisted into Tullio's insane rationale for committing his horrible act. Exposure is a manner of infanticide that goes back to the ancient Greeks.
I'm not alone in my sorrow that D'Annunzio's work for whatever reasons is not translated into English. Yes, he was a fascist but can't we get over that? After all, he died in 1938. His work in theater, prose and poetry provides many superlative examples of the decadent/symbolist school and, furthermore, he's an interesting character. Strange that in light of the continuing importance of Nietzsche's philosophy, English-only readers miss out on, perhaps, the best literary examples of his philosophy.
At any rate, none of the above lessens my enjoyment of the movie nor should it yours. Just be advised that this is not D'Annunzio's book.