After many years abroad, Sandra returns to her native town with her American husband, Andrew. They have come to attend the ceremony at which the family gardens are to be handed over to the city as a memorial to Sandra's Jewish father, who died in a concentration camp. Her brother Gianni is also staying in the house, and the meeting revives the deep and passionate affection they felt for each other in their troubled adolescence. . .
Visconti's latest film provides us with variations on the Electra theme of incestuous love. It is set in Volterra, which, like Thebes, is a city dying of a mortal sickness: it is gradually crumbling away. Elements of the ancient tragedy are moulded and adapted to provide the observation of the brother-sister relationship, with a rich complexity of form.
Yet in the long run, perhaps, more than the drama, more even than the eloquent suffering portrayed will be the fusion of styles, the visual beauty of the photography and décor that will be most remembered.
Grand Prix, Lion of St. Mark, Venice Festival.