Images of Ossessione

I recently saw Luchino Visconti’s Ossessione (1943), a pioneering work of neorealism and proto-noir. It’s based on James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, and although Visconti’s fugitive lovers are pointedly rooted in the economic upheavals of 1940s Italy, the film still establishes a mood I very much identify with Cain: Gino and Giovanna share desperately erotic moments while fate tightens its steely grip. Visconti merges the doomed romanticism of hard-boiled literature with an eye for the details of everyday village life.

Suffice it to say, it’s both very sexy and very tragic. Instead of writing extensively about it, however, I’ve selected a few stills from the film to show what I’m talking about. What especially interested me was how Gino (Massimo Girotti) is visually represented. He’s often rendered in terms of flesh, whether working as a mechanic for Giovanna’s husband or making love to her behind his back – his body is seen as both an economic and sexual force. In any event, it’s a beautifully photographed film. Any thoughts?

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