LUDWIG
1973, AGFA, 238 min, Italy/France/West Germany, Dir: Luchino Visconti

Presented in its complete form in accordance with the director’s wishes, this look at the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria is as opulent as any of Visconti’s sagas - a sweeping four-hour epic of 19th-century decadence. Dominated by Helmut Berger (THE DAMNED, DORIAN GRAY) in the title role, LUDWIG boasts an impressive cast: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the SISSI trilogy), Silvana Mangano (BITTER RICE), Gert Fröbe (GOLDFINGER), John Moulder-Brown (DEEP END) and Trevor Howard (BRIEF ENCOUNTER).


LE AMICHE
THE GIRLFRIENDS
1955, Janus Films, 104 min, Italy, Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni

This major early achievement by Michelangelo Antonioni bears the first signs of the cinema-changing style for which he would soon be world-famous. This brilliantly observed, fragmentary depiction of modern bourgeois life is conveyed from the perspective of five Turinese women. As four of the friends try to make sense of the suicide attempt of the fifth, they find themselves examining their own troubled romantic lives. With suggestions of the theme of modern alienation and the fastidious visual abstraction that would define such later masterpieces as L'AVVENTURA, Antonioni’s film is a devastating take on doomed love and fraught friendship.


I VINTI
1953, Minerva Pictures, 113 min, Italy/France, Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni

Antonioni’s second feature is a key precursor to such famous later works as BLOW UP, THE PASSENGER and ZABRISKE POINT. Comprising three self-contained shorts, I VINTI dramatizes and alters true stories of murder and rebellious youth in France, Italy and England. For years the film (particularly the Italian segment) was banned or heavily censored around the world due to its politics and depictions of violence, but today it is celebrated for its frank portrayal of juvenile delinquency and crime. If the interference of anxious producers and distributors can still be felt, Antonioni’s singular vision of the isolation of Western youth culture is largely intact, making the film an essential part of his oeuvre.


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