Release Date: 30 December 1954
Director: Luchino Visconti
Production Company: Lux Film
Set during the Third Italian War of Independence around 1866, Senso is a sweeping Technicolor melodrama, romance, and war film. The story centers on Contessa Livia Serpieri (Alida Valli) who enters into a tryst with Austrian Lieutenant Franz Mahler (American actor Farley Granger dubbed into Italian by Enrico Maria Salerno). Initially Livia appears to be using her womanly guiles to support her revolutionary cousin Marchese Roberto Ussoni (Massimo Girotti), but she quickly gives into her passions and lusts (“senso” in Italian) and falls madly in love with Franz.
The “romance” of this movie is a hard sell for me since it’s clear from the beginning that Franz is a cad who is totally playing Livia for his own ends. I hate to admit this, but the battle scenes near the end of the film were the most interesting part of the film for me. Call me a philistine, but I found this movie to be pretentious dull. If this is the type of film the Italian neorealists were reacting too, I can better understand the impetus of their movement.