In Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno), Luchino Visconti joins forces again with Burt Lancaster, the actor who helped bring him success ten years earlier in The Leopard, which garnered him the Palme d’or in 1963. Two other Visconti films have been presented at the Festival: Boccaccio 70 (1962) and Death in Venice in 1971, which won the International Film Festival award.
A retired professor and art lover leads a solitary life in his abode in Rome. Countess Bianca Brumonti insists on renting a floor of his mansion. He agrees in exchange for a unique painting that he wants for his collection. The arrival of the countess’ eccentric family turns his quiet life upside down.
Silvana Mangano and Helmut Berger star alongside Burt Lancaster in the roles of Bianca and her young lover - central characters in this family possessing rather unusual moral values. In the film, the professor succumbs to the charms of Konrad Huebel, despite his vulgar nature. A strange relationship – based on desire and domination – comes to exist between them. For some, this fictitious couple is a metaphor for the relationship that was formed between Luchino Visconti and Helmut Berger.
Referring to the film in their book, Luchino Visconti Cinéaste, Alain Sanzio and Paul-Louis Thirard, experts on the Italian maestro, explain: “Visconti’s penultimate film will remain a testament to his talent. And rightly so, as it touches on all of the themes that the director held dear". Through the eyes of an old man, the director explores solitude, old age, death and respect for the values associated with a changing society, unsettled by the events of May ’68.
Monday 20 May / Buñuel Theatre / 5pm
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