“At 20 I was already in love with Italian cinema, but when I saw The Leopard I got blown away. I wasn’t ready for a film like that, where every frame captures the soul of the characters.” These words by Martin Scorsese could be already enough to understand how much Luchino Visconti has influenced generations of directors and left a ineffaceable impression on world cinema. His work should always be remembered for its innovative value, besides the celebrated visual power, the meticulous mise en scene, the work on the actors. It was a cinema that created the neorealism and then ‘betrayed’ it through innovation, blending a lavish style with the depth of human investigation.

It’s a cinema that brings together  ravishing nostalgia and an unchanged sense of the contemporary. Partnering with the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, Luce Cinecittà presents a complete retrospective on the Italian master, following the programs on Marcello Mastroianni in 2017 and Anna Magnani in 2016.

From June 8 to 28, “Visconti, a Complete Retrospective” gives the New York audience the chance to admire the masterpieces of the Milanese director. Some of them will be presented for the first time in their restored version, including the titles that open the program: Death in Venice and Ossessione.

The restoration of Death in Venice, based on the novel by Thomas Mann and second chapter in the director’s German Trilogy (with The Damned and Ludwig), was curated by Luce Cinecittà and Cineteca di Bologna. They took care of the 4K scan of the original negative, and of the Italian and English sound negatives, using an original print from the time as a reference for the grading.

The restoration of Ossessione, Visconti’s debut film, was curated by Luce Cinecittà, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale and Viggo. The restored version runs 140’ 47’’, a length that was achieved thanks to the recovery of various materials. Loosely inspired by the James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, the film premiered in Rome in May 1943, causing the intervention of the Fascist censorship that deemed its content too transgressive for the morality of the time. Accordingly, the film was heavily cut to a runtime of 93’ 87’’

To celebrate this special occasion, Luce Cinecittà printed from the original negative a new 35mm copy of Ludwig, faithful to the version that Visconti never managed to see. In fact, this film was released in shorter versions (180 mins in Italy, 137 mins the English-language one) as the original 237 mins version was considered excessive back in 1973. The director refused to see the reduced cut and only in 1980, four years after Visconti’s death, the film materials were auctioned off and bought by a number of friends and collaborators, including scriptwriter Suso Cecchi D’Amico. Following the director’s notes, they re-established the original version and the film was eventually presented at the Venice Film Festival in 1980.

Following its debut at the Lincoln Center, the retrospective will travel through the main North-American cities and instituions, including the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the Pacific Film Archive of Berkeley University, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

“Visconti, a Complete Retrospective” is organized by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Camilla Cormanni and Paola Ruggiero, Luce-Cinecittà. Full program at https://www.filmlinc.org/daily/visconti-retrospective-announced/