An auteur of many mediums — film, theater, and opera — Luchino Visconti was born into an aristocratic family and boasted a rather infamous roster of friends (Coco Chanel, Giacomo Puccini, and Jean Renoir to name a few) before he found his own spotlight in neorealist Italian cinema. And though his film repertoire is small, his style exudes knowledge and talent without question.
In “Death in Venice,” his eleventh film based on the novella by Thomas Mann, Visconti explores not only the themes of underlying sexuality found in the original text, but the significance of ambiguity in art. His protagonists debate the importance of this, declaring that the artist cannot be ambiguous, but that art cannot help to be.
In his new video essay, Pasquale Iannone uses footage from Visconti’s “White Nights,” another novella adaptation (this time from the archetypal novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky), with dialogue from “Death in Venice” in addition to reflections from Visconti and his cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno that discuss the spirituality and aesthetic value of these films.
Visconti used photography as if it were a screenplay, shifting the mood of his film within the character’s mind, forever keeping his audience intrigued. Check out the video essay below. [Fandor]