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Senso (The Wanton Countess)

Senso (The Wanton Countess) (1954)



Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 881

My Rating

Movie Info

Italian director Luchino Visconti dishes up his usual blend of elegance and decadence in Senso. The international cast includes French film star Alida Valli as a Italian countess married to a Venetian nobleman, and English leading man Farley Granger as an Austrian military officer. The two are swept up in the Austrian empire's evacuation of Italy in 1866. Valli and Granger fall in love, but Valli ultimately realizes that the officer is interested only in her wealth and prestige, whereupon she

Apr 11, 2011

Criterion Collection

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (3) | DVD (6)

Senso is lush, broadly emotional and beautifully photographed.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Senso is an elegant, expensively-produced, period love story, set back in the Italian 1860s, and a stylist delight.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like other Visconti melodramas, [Senso is] sumptuous in its Technicolor expressionism.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is an obvious, rudimentary operatic approach to amour and an illustration of history that is likely to be fuzzy to anyone but a student of Garibaldi's 1866 campaign in and around Venice and Verona.

May 10, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A lush, melodramatic portrait of seduction and betrayal, decadence and deceit in the midst of Italy's resistance to Austrian occupation in the mid-19th century.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As usual with Visconti, there is a welter of baroque effects and an acute sense of history.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Gorgeously upholstered by flashing, decadent passions and over-the-top operatics.

August 29, 2014 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Visconti's lush period piece, shot in color, marks his transition from neo-realism to grand operatic spectacles.

February 5, 2013 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Lavishly styled historical drama, which opens with one of the most electrifying protest scenes in film history.

August 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

a Technicolored visual feast in the grandest tradition of historical-epic melodrama

March 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The culmination of Visconti's work, the perfect collision of style, themes and look, and perhaps his greatest film.

March 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Senso isn't the subtlest picture and its writing is frequently cringe-worthy. But as a work of pure film artistry it's wonderful, especially in its less motivated sequences.

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

As a chronicle of doomed love, the story gains quite a bit of steam as it bulldozes towards its tragic ending.

February 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

... this lush, lavish melodrama of a self-destructive love affair set against the idealistic passions of the Risorgimento is the very definition of cinematic.

February 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

For any student of cinematography, costume design or art direction, Senso is an invaluable source of inspiration.

February 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Triumphs on the strength of [Alida Valli's]'d have to go very far to find a more luscious movie.

July 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Translates as sumptuous, hollow, overlong and dull.

July 12, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Visconti counterposes romance and rebellion in this historical tale of love and betrayal.

August 28, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A lavish period piece that nevertheless rings rather hollow.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Audience Reviews for Senso (The Wanton Countess)

A feast for the eyes this lush melodrama may be an acquired taste for some but I doubt anyone could say it wasn't visually stunning. Venice is rendered so beautifully you will want to hop the next flight there and with the composition of all the other scenes it is like watching a story take place inside of paintings. However as gorgeous as all that is it also can be distracting and take you out of the story as you study the detail which at times feels a bit surreal. Having only seen Alida Valli in her english language films where she often seemed stiff and ill at ease her performance here is quite a revelation. She is fully in command of the screen and her anguished turmoil is compelling to watch. Farley is not bad although his part really doesn't offer him more of a chance than to play a very handsome but contemptible bastard.
September 11, 2012
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Looks beautiful in sumptuous Technicolor, but I found the story to be deathly dull. I could barely finish it. This tale of war, betrayal, and forbidden love might be fine for some, but it's not for me.
May 16, 2011

Super Reviewer

1866 Venice. The Italians are organized to reclaim the province from the Austrian empire. Such is the backdrop for this melodrama. The strength of this film is not in the 'love affair' plot, but in Visconti's operatic direction and unsurpassed ability to recreate history. The undertone is decidedly bittersweet because a way of life, with its beauty, elegance and decadence, is absorbed by history with the birth of a new nation. I am annoyed to find, once again, that the U.S. audience is viewing an edited version; most films play better when released in accordance to the artist's vision.
June 16, 2010

Super Reviewer

"Senso" begins at the opera in Venice in 1866. During an intermission, a less than spontaneous demonstration breaks out in favor of Italian independence. Roberto Ussoni(Massimo Girotti) gets so carried away with exuberance that he challenges Franz Mahler(Farley Granger), a young Austrian officer, to a duel. Luckily for Roberto, his cousin Livia(Alida Valli) intercedes on his behalf, so he is only exiled for a year, like quite a few other of his comrades. But Livia's dealings with Franz do not end there, as her attraction grows despite the whole husband(Heinz Moog) thing.

"Senso" is a sexy, deeply resonant and moving melodrama that contains a lot of interesting history. With some smart thoughts on occupation, this story is set at a pivotal time and place and made not that long after World War II. That being said, this is not and was probably never intended to be an Italian "Gone with the Wind." By comparison, "Senso" is much more intimate than epic in its exploration of a torrid love affair where more than one taboo is broken and the participants lose track of everything going on around them. While I normally have no problem with this sort of behavior, here it is clear that everybody has to decide which side they are on.
September 27, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Senso (DE)
  • Senso (UK)
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