Decadence has certainly gone downhill these last decades.
For film purposes, Gabriele d'Annunzio's "The Innocent" has been turned into a story illustrating the pitfalls of open marriage, how two can play that game, and the consequences of self-indulgence. Without the trappings,it would be silly beyond belief.
But what trappings they are! What Luchino Visconti hasn't thrown into this effort in the way of upper class turn-of the-century kitsch isn't worth sending out to be upholstered in burgundy, tasseled, draped damasque. The jewels, the clothes, the estates, the carriages, the smoldering glances, the seething but formal fencing matches, the passionate panting under pearl dog collars or stiff shirtfronts, the lines such as "My dear, the peasants are always pleased to see their masters well dressed"-It's all there, and then some.
D'Annunzio, who exercised his profession of Hedonist through such sub-careers aswriting and fighting, specialized in exterior decadence and interior decoration. His entry in "Twentieth-Century Authors" points out that he had no private life, as it was all conducted in public, and adds that "His minor affairs of the heart were unnumerable and frequently unsavory."
this story is the ultimate in decandence.It's about a man who - are you ready for this? - falls in love with his own wife. Of course, he hastried everything else first, and resorts to this only when nothing elsewill stimulate his jaded appetite. But it's shocking stuff. The wife is naturally disgusted.
Unfortunately, the story has become curiosly modern in this film, in spite of all the period yard goods. Whatever the distinction is between hedonism and swinging, Giancarlo Giannini and Jennifer O'Neil have produced the latter instead of the former. It can beseen in a comparison of the way Laura Antonelli plays essentially the same role of the awakening wife in "Wife-mistress" and the hyped-up version she does here.
There's something missing in all those handsome eyes,as if sensuality has been number in them before the story begins, so that the exciting part of the downhill trip is already over. Morality pops up when the characters, instead of having ardently exhausted pleasure,seem to be wondering if that's all there is. It's as if instead of extolling the idea of experiencing everything, the story is warning that itisn't worth bordering.
For decadence, it makes uphill work.
The innocent-Outer Circle. CAPTION: Picture, GIANCARLO GIANNINI IN LUCHINO VISCONTI'S "THE INNOCENT."