Toth Database - Cinema

Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo

Milan, November 2, 1906 – Rome, March 17, 1976



Luchino is the fourth son of Duke Giuseppe Visconti of Modrone and Carla Erba, owner of the largest Italian pharmaceutical company, and younger brother of Guido, Luigi and Edoardo, Major of Giovanna, Nane and Uberta. Luchino serves as the petty Officer of cavalry in Pinerolo and lives his youth in the comfort of one of the most important families in Europe. He frequents with alternating results, the Liceo classico Berchet in Milan, where he flunked at the gymnasium, then passes to the Liceo classico Dante Alighieri directed by the family Pollini. At the age of 26 Luchino will lead the horse stable, achieving excellent results among which the victory in the Grand Prix of Milan San Siro with Sanzio. Since a boy cello studio, under the guidance of cellist and composer Lorenzo De Paolis.The father of Luchino Visconti is one of the funders of the Teatro La Scala in Milan and the living room of Casa Visconti is frequented, among others by Arturo Toscanini. Many artists are also housed in the residence Cernobbiesse of Villa Erba, on Lake Como, where the young Visconti spends occasionally the summer holidays with his mother Carla, the director remembers her:


«Villa Erba is a house that we love very much. We all gather there brothers and sisters and it will be like a time when we were children and we lived in the shadow of our mother»


Luchino Visconti's film career began in 1936 in Paris, as assistant director and costumes for Jean Renoir, known through the stylist Coco Chanel, with whom Luchino Visconti has a relationship, in 1939 the mother of Luchino dies. Invited by Jean Renoir to work on an Italo-French co-production, in a cinema adaptation of Tosca, but after the start of the war, the director French Renoir and forced and leave the set, will be replaced by the German Karl Koch. After the disappearance of his mother Luchino settles in Rome and here the meeting with the young intellectuals collaborators of the magazine Cinema, and at the same time approaching the Italian Communist Party to which it will remain bound until the death. From this group comes a new idea of cinema that, abandoning the mellow comedies of cinema white phones set in luxurious villas, realistically tells the life and the daily dramas of people. On these bases, together with Pietro Ingrao, Mario Alicata, Giuseppe De Santis, in 1942 Visconti sports yard movie Obsession based on the novel the postman always rings twice by James Cain. Protagonists are Clara Calami, which replaces the last minute Anna Magnani because it was in an advanced state of pregnancy, Massimo Girotti, in the part of mechanic Gino, Juan de Landa as the cuckolded husband, and Elio Marcuzzo in character of Spanish. The film begins a tavern that is located on a street of passes, then moves to Ancona and then in Ferrara. The choice to shoot the film in these cities was upstream to the era and gives a film a thunder of everyday reality that surprises then and continues to surprise. 

With the movie Obsession Visconti begins the neorealist film genre. It is precisely the film editor Mario Serandrei, that viewing turned film will give first to the first movie the definition of neorealist, expressive style that's birth so officially he will have great success in the following years. The Film has a discontinuous distribution and tormented in an Italy devastated by war. After the Armistice in September 1943. Visconti works with the resistance took the name of battle of Alfredo. Given a fugitive invites the actress Maria Denis with whom he has an affair, to offer hospitality in his villa in all antifascists who turned up with the password on behalf of one who knows you " .


"The House of Luchino became in a short time the operations center and the refuge a lot of illegals..."All the windows were kept strictly barred, and obscued, so that from the outside the house was as uninhabited, while inside it had been transformed into a sort of dormitory, canteen and office, in which occupants entered and came out Strictly at night»


(Letter from Uberta Visconti to Martino Contu, 6 February 1996)



Among those who will find refuge in his abode was the Sardinian communist Sisinnio Mocci, officially hired as a butler but actually engaged in the clandestine fight against the Nazi occupation of Rome: Mocci is arrested in the Villa of Visconti and Then he slaughtered the Fosse Ardeatine. Captured in April 1944 and imprisoned in Rome for a few days by Bandda Koch, during the German occupation, Visconti is saved from execution by the intervention of Maria Denis, who will plead for him at the fascist police. 

The Denis recounts in his book the game of truth ", Piero Koch the head of education from which the Director had been taken prisoner, was shot at the Fort Bravetta in Rome on 5 June 1945: the testimony of the Director had strong weight to the process by that came out of the death sentence for the well-known fascist. Having regard to the character's fame, the authorities deemed appropriate to document the execution with a recovery that was built by the same Visconti. After the war Visconti collaborates in the realization of the documentary the glory days, a film by directing collective dedicated to resistance. Visconti revolves scenes of lynching of Donato Carretta, the former Director of the prison Director Coeli, he directed the shooting of Peter Koch. Other sequences are filmed by Gianni Puccini and Giuseppe De Santis. At the same time, dedicated to the preparation of absolute premieres posing with drama in the 1950s, also directed lyric operas, having had the opportunity to direct in 1955 with Maria Callas Meneghini, Sonnabula and The Traviata at The Scala.

In 1948 back behind the camera making a movie argumentative and raw, openly denouncing the social conditions of the poorer classes, the Earth trembles, adapted from the novel I Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga, almost documentary. It is one of the few Italian films spoken entirely in dialect. In 1950 there was a second edition of the film dubbed in Italian. Beautiful of 1951, based on a story by Cesare Zavattini, with Anna Magnani and Walter Chiari, analyze it with ruthlessness behind the scenes of the film world. 

We're women in 1953, always subject of Cesare Zavattini, showing an episode of the private lives of four famous actresses (Anna Magnani, Alida Valli, Ingrid Bergam and Isa Miranda). 

In 1954 he made his first film in color, Direction, based on a short story by Camillo Boito, with Alida Valli and Farley Granger. In 1866, a Venetian noblewoman falls for an Austrian army officer. Discovered the treachery of man, to whom he had given the money that was intended for a patriotic cause, it becomes a stool pigeon and makes him shoot. 

This film marked a turning point in the art of Visconti, somebody will define improperly a betrayal of neorealism; attention to detail is extremely scenic. In 1956 is communist intellectuals protesting against the Soviet invasion of Hungary, but it leaves the party.

The White Nights of 1957, based on the novel by Dostoyevsky, starring Marcello Mastroianni, Maria Schell, and Jean Marsh, is a black and white film, leaden atmosphere and Misty. 

He won the Silver Lion at Venice. Rocco and his brothers, of 1960, is the story of a family of southerners who moved to Milan from Basilicata. Narrated with the tones of Greek tragedy, the film causes great controversy due to some raw and violent scenes. In 1961 along with Vittoria De Sica, Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli and realizes the episodic film Boccaccio 70, the Visconti, the work is played by Tomas Milan, Romy Schneider, Romolo Valli, and Paolo Stoppa. In 1962 Luchino Visconti achieves a great cinematic masterpiece that accords with critics and audiences with the movie based on the novel the Leopard Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, winner of the Palme Gold. Starring Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale, is set in the time of Garibaldi's landing in Sicily. The climax of the film is the final scene of the dance, which occupies the last half hour of the film. Collecting great success in Europe, while the first exit in the United States, despite the presence of Lancaster, the film has little response at the box office. In 1965 the movie comes out Vague Bear Stars, inspired in the title to leopards. And the story of incest, with references to the mythology, the Greek tragedians and certain cultural paths of the twentieth century, plays by Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel. In 1966 Visconti spin the Witch burnt alive a episode of the collective film witches, starring Silvana Mangano. 

From 1967 the stranger, inspired by the book Albert Camus, with Marcello Mastroianni and starring by Angela Luce. While filming in Visconti's Vaghe stelle dell'orsa introduces the young Helmunt Berger, who will become over the years one of the symbol of his cinema, as already Delon or Claudia Cardinale. 

In the late 1960, Visconti, inspired by the historical debate post-Nazi, makes the fall of gods , with Dirk Bogarde, Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin, as protagonists. The story of the rise and fall of the owning family of the most important German steelworks of the rise of Nazism. 

The film constitutes the first step of what will later be called the German trilogy. The other two movies will be death in Venice of 1971, and Ludwing of 1972. Death in Venice is adapted from the work of Thomas Mann with costume designer Piero Tosi and the screenplay by Nicholas Balucco and the same Luchino, in films, Luchino tells the story of understanding and poetic composer Gustav Von Aschenbach, exploring the theme of an ideal and unattainable beauty, to underline the great interpretation of actors Dirk Bogarde as Aschenbach and Björn Andresen in Tadzio. Finally, Ludwing, still with Helmut Berger in the main role one of the longest in the history of Italian cinema over 3 hours 40 minutes in its complete version, which tells the story of the last King of Bavaria, Ludwig II, and his stormy with Richard Wagner and its gradual retreat from reality and from government responsibility to the destitution and death under mysterious circumstances. The trilogy could become tetralogy with the Magic Mountain, a job other than Mann, whose film Visconti is concerned. 

But on 27 July 1972, when I finished filming oLudwing but not yet started mounting, the Director is brain suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on the left side of the body, the installation terminates in Cernobbio. Despite poor health, goes back to work treating him in 1973 a celebrated staging of Manon Lescaut, for the Festival of two worlds in Spoleto directed by Romolo Valli and, despite the great difficulties, he managed to turn two latest movies family group in an interior , openly autobiographical and again starring Burt Lancaster and Helmut Berger, twilight and the innocent based on the novel by Gabriele D'Annunzio, starring Giancarlo Giannini, and Laura Antonelli. Luchino Visconti died in the spring of 1976, seized with a severe form of thrombosis shortly after viewing along with his close associates the first editing of the film he was working on. The innocent will be presented to the public in that robe, apart from a few changes from the co-screenwriter Suso Cecchi D'Amico based on the Director's directions during a discussion about work. 

Luchino Visconti's ashes are retained by 2003 under a rock on the island of Ischia in his story residence The Dove " along with those of sister Uberta.




Alongside the love story lived over several years with Coco Chanel, Clara Calamia, Maria Denis, Marlene Deitrich, and with the writer Elsa Morante, the director never hid his homosexual orientation, which finds explicit references in many of his films as in some theatrical installations of which over the years he has directed. In the 1930s, in Paris, Visconti had a relationship with the photographer Horst P. Between the late 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s, at the height of his professional consecration, he intertwined his human and working history with that of the set designer of his shows. Franco Zeffirelli, who lived for a long time in the director's villa on the Via Salaria in Rome. After 1965 Visconti was bound by an understanding love affective relationship Helmut Berger. A relationship that between the ups and downs due to the lively lifestyle of the Austrian actor, continued until the death of the director.





1943/ Obsession

1948 / The earth trembles

1951/ Bellissima

1953/ We are women

1954/ Sense

1957/ The White Nights

1960 / Rocco and his brothers

1962/ Boccaccio 72

1963 / The Parrot

1965 / Vague Stars of the Bear

1967/ The Witches

1967/ The Stranger

1969/ The Fall of the Gods

1971/ Death in Venice

1972/ Ludwing

1974/ Family group in an interior

1976/ The Innocent





1945/ Terrible relatives of Jean Cocteau

1945/ Fifth Column of Ernest Hemingway

1945/ The type writer of Jean Cocteau

1945/ Antigone by Jean Anouilh

1945/ Behind closed doors of Jean-Paul Sartre

1945/ The tobacco route of John Kirkland

1946/ The marriage of Figaro by Pierre – Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

1946/ Crime and Punishment of Gaston bary

1946/ Glass Zoo by Tennessee Williams Glass Zoo

1947/ Eurydice by Jean Anouilh

1949/ A tram called the desire of Tennessee Williams

1949/ Oreste di Vittorio Alfieri

1949/ Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare

1951/ Death of a salesman of Arthur Millere

1951/ The seducer of Diego Fabbri

1952/  The Locandiera by Carlo Goldoni

1952/ Three Sisters of Anton Ĉechov

1953/ The tobacco hurts of Anton Ĉechov

1953/ Medea by Euripides

1954/ as the leaves of Joseph Giacosa

1955/ The Cruciulo of Arthur Millere

1955/ Uncle Vania of Anton Ĉechov

1957/ Countess Giulia of August Strindberg