Criterion Collection released Luchino Visconti's Senso this week so I figured I'd give it a try seeing that I had yet to see a Visconti film. The film takes place in 1866 in Venice during the Austrian occupation and Italy's attempt to finally unify as a state. These political events are a backdrop for a romantic love story though. There is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet theme here as the woman is a married Venetian Countess and the man is an Austrian Lieutenant. I don't think the link is anymore overt than that; however, part of the story does take place in Verona.
The movie opens at an opera house which is fitting because the film seems like a melodramatic opera itself. The music is overbearing, the woman is constantly crying and burying her face in her hands, and there is a complete and utter tragic ending. You may think I've given something away there but I promise, it's not the tragic ending which Romeo and Juliet implies.
I didn't love this film and I really am not sure yet if I even liked it. There are good scenes such as the beginning in the opera and the ensuing encounters throughout Venice, but once the story leaves Venice and moves to Verona, it falls apart for me. I also am too late to appreciate the grandeur this film represented. It was the first Italian film in Technicolor and the colors really are deep and rich. The scenes are beautiful to look at, but the strength of the story doesn't match its intensity.