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Remarkable rediscovery

With its lavish 19th century sets The Innocent is one of Visconti’s most visually stunning films, and we are very proud to release it for the first time ever on Bluray on CultFilms.

The Innocent was Luchino Visconti’s final film, he died whilst completing the edit. Released in 1976 it marks the end of a masterful career, encapsulating the visual grandeur and powerful personal storytelling that imbued the director’s work.

It tells the tale of a Roman aristocratic family. Tullio Hermit,  played by Giancarlo Giannini, has recently left his wife Giuliana (Laura Antonelli) for his latest mistress, but he is seized by crazed jealously when he discovers that his wife has not only taken a lover but is expecting a child. What unfolds is a personal tragedy of love and loss, tinged with melodrama, and awash with the decadence of late 19th century European aristocracy.

Much of the film’s success lies in its central performances. Giancarlo Giannini, who was chosen after Alain Delon turned the role down, became more widely known for his later mainstream roles, first as the Italian Inspector locked in a mortal combat with Hannibal Lecter in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, and as Bond sidekick René Mathis in both ‘Casino Royal’ and ‘Quantum of Solace’.  In The Innocent his performance as the arrogant, capricious Tullio is exceptional, culminating in a truly chilling final scene. Countering Tullio, is Antonelli’s sensual performance as Giuliana. Prior to The Innocent Antonelli was primarily known in Italy for her roles in sex comedies. Casting her in such a serious role was a controversial choice but she gives Giuliana a soft, composed sadness, lending tenderness to the family tragedy.

Visconti used opulent sets and gorgeous costumes as significantl part of the story, layering the solitude and anxiety of the aristocracy beneath a shimmering but hollow veneer,  to illustrate the decadence of the upper classes, the struggle of the individual with changing times and his incapability of adapting to history’s new course.

And, indeed, the wider historical commentary of the director’s earlier films is replaced here by a more private examination of the disintegration of a marriage, whilst still drawing a parallel with the rapidly changing society of the 1970s.

The film scholar Peter Bondanella has noted that The Innocent shows ‘beautiful images of a world that has disappeared’, with his narrative powers and ‘matchless flare for melodramatic spectacle’.  It was this notion that guided the restoration work.

The material was restored by Studio Cine, with the supervision of one of the great Director of Photography of Italian cinema, Giuseppe Rotunno, who worked on The Leopard, Rocco and His Brothers and Federico Fellini’s Amarcord, to name but a few.

The resulting restoration does Visconti’s vision justice and finally presents The Innocent in the way it should be seen, in the way it was intended by the great director when it was first filmed, just before his death in 1976.