Retired American Professor (Lancaster) has the house and collection of his dreams. Living in an Italian house that is both vast and luxurious beyond many comprehension. He lives alone except for his house maid and enjoys the peace this grants him. All changes however, when a countess requests to rent the upper part of the house that he is not using. She moves in her family and various younger people, all who seem set of fun and games. The professor is unable to distance himself from the group and his fascination becomes complex and difficult.
This film is as relevant now as it was then. Some see this as the problem of intellectual discipline. I see the film as an exploration of the human who has achieve everything in their world but failed to balance that with human contact. Lancaster is ideal as the professor. The man that has lived in a self imposed bubble of his love of things. He is equally impassioned and isolated in equal measure by his things. His vulnerable and fragile self is draw to companionship. He plays this with skill and intelligence, as he did in the The Leopard.
The luxury of his space is captured with adorable skill and interest. Visconti loved this ability to construct the space of a world of decaying opulence. Here it matches the leads performance and positions with delight the viewer in the frame of his total isolation and separation. Its a good film for the arthouse film lover, its a great film for the Visconti fan but its the sort of film anyone can find the heart of and enjoy. Its also to be praised elsewhere but this can be seen in other reviews and by other voices that are independent of my own.
The extras and the film. Well the restoration is nice enough and the 2k brings in the cinematography to the centre stage. The dub is odd and hurt to watch. The interview has Bencivenni take us on the worlds range and then drop us into its pit, with a grace rare in the field.