The Innocent, the final movie from Italian theatre/film director Luchino Visconti is an interesting tale told through the eyes of a master of the art form. Tullio (played by Giancarlo Giannini) is the story of a married aristocrat who tries to relight the passion with his mistress Teresa (Jennifer O’Neill). When he discovers his wife Giuliana is also having an affair and is pregnant with her lover’s child this sets in place a chain of tragic events.

The Innocent is visually appealing. The way in which Visconti and cinematographer Pasqualino de Santis frame the opulent colourful world that the characters live in is striking to the eye in this tale where themes of desire, infidelity and betrayal always hang around the characters who are usually elaborately dressed.

Giancarlo Giannini who most audiences will know from his fairly recent performances in the first two Daniel Craig James Bond movies gives an amazing performance as Tullio. We follow him through this glamorous world, being uptight, self serving and horrible, he doesn’t realise this until its too late. His role is supported by the very beautiful Laura Antonelli who turns in a career best as his wife and perhaps best known for the 70s saucy, sex-comedies she appeared in.

This story of life and death set against the stifling formality of Italian aristocratic life in the early 1800s are subject matters that where close to the directors heart as he was coming to the end of his time on earth he passed away whilst working on the editing of the movie.

The directorial career of Luchino Visconti  was fascinating, working with Roberto Rossellini who’d would be the forefather of the Italian neo-realist movement and as an assistant director with Jean Renoir who’s work would shape the French new wave cinema these two movements would be major influences on all cinema in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Innocent serves as a great last hurrah from an immense talent and as an interesting way into his style of controlled, beautifully framed world in which his complicated characters live in. This release by CultFilms has been restored to HD looking the best it’s ever did and this DVD comes with a forty six minute documentary with interviews by Renata Franceschi & Giorgio Treves their recollections of working on this films production are fascinating.

Dir: Luchino Visconti
Scr: Suso Cecchi d’Amico, Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti
Pro: Giovanni Bertolucci
Cast: Giancarlo Giannini, Laura Antonelli, Jennifer O’Neill
D.O.P: Pasqualino De Santis
Music: Franco Mannino
Country: Italy, France
Year: 1976
Run time: 125 minutes

The Innocent available on Blu Ray and DVD now