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Luchino Visconti & Helmut Berger

Helmut Berger (born Helmut Steinberger; 29 May 1944) is an Austrian film and television actor. He is most famous for his work with Luchino Visconti, particularly in his performance as King Ludwig II of Bavaria in Ludwig, for which he received a special David di Donatello award. He was Luchino Visconti' last partner, for 12 years before the director's death in 1976. It has been said that Berger tried to commit suicide the day of the first anniversary of Visconti's death.

He appears primarily in European cinema, but has also acted in films such as The Godfather Part III and Iron Cross.

He was born in Bad Ischl, Austria, into a family of hoteliers. Berger initially trained and worked in this field, even though he had no interest in gastronomy or the hospitality industry. At age eighteen, he moved to London, England, where he did odd-jobs while taking acting classes. After studying languages in Perugia, Italy, Berger moved to Rome, Italy.

In 1964, he first met the film director Luchino Visconti, with whom he later had an intimate relationship. Visconti gave him his first acting role in the film Le streghe (The Witches, 1967) (in the episode "La Strega Bruciata Viva"), but he gained international prominence as the amoral Martin von Essenbeck in Visconti's The Damned (1969). In that film, in what is perhaps his best-known scene, he mimics Marlene Dietrich in the film The Blue Angel (1930). In Visconti's Ludwig (1972), Berger portrays Ludwig II of Bavaria from his blooming youth, to his dissolute final years. In 1974, Berger starred with Burt Lancaster in Visconti's Conversation Piece.


The famous nude photo of Victor Skrebneski was taken in Chicago during the American promotional tour for "The Damned". Helmut Berger, out of this photo, did some Christmas cards, which he sent to his friends in the world. "Helmut Berger - A Life in Pictures" is published by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf Verlag. 200 pages, 99.95 euros. © "HELMUT BERGER: A Life in Pictures Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf Verlag."
Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo, was an Italian theatre, opera and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter. He is best known for his films The Leopard (1963) and Death in Venice (1971). Visconti made no secret of his homosexuality. His last partner was the Austrian actor Helmut Berger, who played Martin in Visconti's film The Damned. Berger also appeared in Visconti's Ludwig in 1972 and Conversation Piece in 1974 along with Burt Lancaster.


Berger has worked in television, most notably in the role of Peter De Vilbis in nine episodes (1983–1984) of the prime-time soap opera Dynasty (1981–1989), which he did only for money (he would later call it "crying on the way to the set but laughing on the way to the bank"). This was his last appearance in a television series.

In the thriller film Iron Cross (2009) he played Shrager, an aging character believed to be an old SS commander responsible for murdering Jews during World War II.

Berger has starred in two films directed by Peter Kern – Blutsfreundschaft (shown at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival (2010), and Mörderschwestern (in post-production).

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Berger

Luchino Visconti di Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo (2 November 1906 - 17 March 1976), was an Italian theatre, opera and cinema director, as well as a screenwriter. He is best known for his films The Leopard (1963) and Death in Venice (1971).

Visconti made no secret of his homosexuality. His last partner was the Austrian actor Helmut Berger, who played Martin in Visconti's film The Damned. Berger also appeared in Visconti's Ludwig in 1972 and Conversation Piece in 1974 along with Burt Lancaster. Other lovers included Franco Zeffirelli, who also worked as part of the crew in production design, as assistant director, and other roles in a number of Visconti's films, operas, and theatrical productions.

Visconti, who was "born into an ancient aristocratic family in Milan, one of seven children of the Grand Duke of Modrone and his wife Carla (nee Erba, heiress to Erba Pharmaceuticals)" was known as Luchino Visconti di Modrone. In his early years he was exposed to art, music and theatre, and met the composer Giacomo Puccini, the conductor Arturo Toscanini and the writer Gabriele d'Annunzio.

During World War II Visconti joined the Italian Communist Party.

He died in Rome of a stroke at age 69. There is a museum dedicated to the director's work in Ischia.

He began his filmmaking career as an assistant director on Jean Renoir's Toni (1935) and Une partie de campagne (1936), thanks to the intercession of their common friend, Coco Chanel. After a short tour of the United States, where he visited Hollywood, he returned to Italy to be Renoir's assistant again, this time for La Tosca (1939), a production that was interrupted and later completed by German director Karl Koch because of World War II.

Together with Roberto Rossellini, Visconti joined the salotto of Vittorio Mussolini (the son of Benito, who was then the national arbitrator for cinema and other arts). Here he presumably also met Federico Fellini. With Gianni Puccini, Antonio Pietrangeli and Giuseppe De Santis, he wrote the screenplay for his first film as director: Ossessione (Obsession, 1943), the first neorealist movie and an unofficial adaptation of the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice.

In 1948, he wrote and directed La terra trema (The Earth Trembles), based on the novel I Malavoglia by Giovanni Verga. In the book by Silvia Iannello Le immagini e le parole dei Malavoglia, the author selects some passages of the Verga novel, adds original comments and Acitrezza's photographic images, and devotes a chapter to the origins, remarks and frames taken from the movie.

Visconti continued working throughout the 1950s, although he veered away from the neorealist path with his 1954 film, Senso, shot in colour. Based on the novella by Camillo Boito, it is set in Austrian-occupied Venice in 1866. In this film, Visconti combines realism and romanticism as a way to break away from neorealism. However, as one biographer notes, "Visconti without neorealism is like Lang without expressionism and Eisenstein without formalism". He describes the film as the "most Viscontian" of all Visconti's films. Visconti returned to neorealism once more with Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), the story of Southern Italians who migrate to Milan hoping to find financial stability. In 1961, he was a member of the jury at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.

Throughout the 1960s, Visconti's films became more personal. Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1963), is based on Lampedusa's novel of the same name about the decline of the Sicilian aristocracy at the time of the Risorgimento. It starred American actor Burt Lancaster in the role of Prince Don Fabrizio. This film was distributed in America and Britain by Twentieth-Century Fox, which deleted important scenes. Visconti repudiated the Twentieth-Century Fox version.

It was not until The Damned (1969) that Visconti received a nomination for an Academy Award, for "Best Screenplay". The film, one of Visconti's best-known works, concerns a German industrialist's family which slowly begins to disintegrate during the Nazi consolidation of power at the 30s. Its decadence and lavish beauty are characteristic of Visconti's aesthetic.

Visconti's final film was The Innocent (1976), in which he returns to his recurring interest in infidelity and betrayal.

Visconti was also a celebrated theatre and opera director. During the years 1946-1960 he directed many performances of the Rina Morelli-Paolo Stoppa Company with actor Vittorio Gassman as well as many celebrated productions of operas.

Visconti's love of opera is evident in the 1954 Senso, where the beginning of the film shows scenes from the fourth act of Il trovatore, which were filmed at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice. Beginning when he directed a production at Milan's Teatro alla Scala of La vestale in December 1954, his career included a famous revival of La traviata at La Scala in 1955 with Maria Callas and an equally famous Anna Bolena (also at La Scala) in 1957 with Callas. A significant 1958 Royal Opera House (London) production of Verdi's five-act Italian version of Don Carlos (with Jon Vickers) followed, along with a Macbeth in Spoleto in 1958 and a famous black-and-white Il trovatore with scenery and costumes by Filippo Sanjust at Covent Garden in 1964. In 1966 Visconti's luscious Falstaff for the Vienna State Opera conducted by Leonard Bernstein was critically acclaimed. On the other hand, his austere 1969 Simon Boccanegra with the singers clothed in geometrical costumes provoked controversy.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luchino_Visconti

Further Readings:

Death in Venice: A Queer Film Classic (Queer Film Classics) by Will Aitken
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press; First Edition edition (December 27, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 155152418X
ISBN-13: 978-1551524184
Amazon: Death in Venice: A Queer Film Classic
Amazon Kindle: Death in Venice: A Queer Film Classic

A Queer Film Classic on Luchino Visconti's lyrical and controversial 1971 film based on Thomas Mann's novel about a middle-aged man (played by Dirk Bogarde) vacationing in Venice who becomes obsessed with a youth staying at the same hotel as a wave of cholera descends upon the city. The book analyzes its cultural impact and provides a vivid portrait of the director, an ardent Communist and grand provocateur.

Will Aitken's novels include Realia and Terre Haute. Arsenal's Queer Film Classics series cover some of the most important and influential films about and by LGBTQ people.

More LGBT Couples at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance


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