Period melodrama doesn’t get more operatic than Luchino Visconti’s 1954 masterpiece Senso, one of the featured programs this week on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck. This opulent adaptation of a novella by Italian author Camillo Boito boasts a lush Technicolor palette, which glistens anew in a celebrated restoration by The Film Foundation and the Cineteca di Bologna. See the film in all its splendor along with the rare English-language version, The Wanton Countess, and documentaries on the production and Visconti’s work in opera.
Also up this week: two films that make evocative use of water, a masterpiece of humanist cinema from Yasujiro Ozu, and a pair of female-led portraits of the late nineteenth century.
Take to the water with this week’s pairing of the short film Taris, in which Jean Vigo uses every trick in his toolbox—including whiplash editing and slowed and reversed motion—to capture the athletic prowess of a champion swimmer, and the mournful first entry in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy, in which a grief-stricken Juliette Binoche finds solace in a blue-lit swimming pool.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Yasujiro Ozu’s 1953 family drama gives profound expression to the director’s recurrent theme of intergenerational conflict, following an aging couple as they pay a visit to their increasingly distracted adult children in the city. Supplements on our edition include I Lived, But . . ., a feature-length documentary about Ozu’s life and career, as well as Talking with Ozu, a tribute to the master with reminiscences by filmmakers such as Lindsay Anderson, Hou Hsiao-hsien, and Wim Wenders.
Journey back to the belle epoque with two films that revolve around dazzling women in high society, both by master filmmakers: Max Ophuls’s 1953 The Earrings of Madame de . . ., a romantic tragedy swept along by the director’s famously fluid camera work, stars Danielle Darrieux as a general’s wife who falls in love with a baron, while Jean Renoir’s 1956 Elena and Her Men, a freewheeling farce shot in lavish Technicolor, stars Ingrid Bergman as a Polish princess whose allure ultimately steadies the French government.