Movies Set In Venice
With this, our 6th newsletter, I would like to write about a subject I deeply love - the cinema, and some of the movies that have been set in Venice.
As you know, the international movie festival has been held in Venice (on Lido island) since 1932, and actually is the oldest festival of this type in the world. It usually starts between the end of August and beginning of September, lasts for 11 days, and has become an important annual cultural venue for movie lovers.
After World War II, when Venice population was much bigger than now (reaching more than 150.000 inhabitants), there were many cinemas in town, including the Accademia – very close to Ca’ Pisani. With the slow, but fatal decrease of Venice’s inhabitants (at present less than 59.000), one after the other closed, and at the moment there is one ‘multisala’ (2 screens) in Strada Nuova (near Rialto), and one ‘multisala’ (2 other screens) in Lido, near the boat stop. The Cinema building (about which I wrote in my previous newsletter) has been now under restoration for 4 or 5 years, and we Venetians are all hoping it will be ready soon, although an opening date has not been announced. However, there is also a good piece of news - a new cinema will open near campo San Luca in a few months, replacing the old cinema Rossini where on its wooden floor were visible traces of cigarettes ends from when it was still possible to smoke in public areas in Italy.
There are many movies whose subject is Venice - many cinematographers have undertaken the difficult task to film their stories in this absolutely unique place. Luchino Visconti set two of his most famous works in Venice: ‘Senso’ (1954) and ‘Morte a Venezia’ (‘Death in Venice’, 1971). The first is a melodramatic film, an adaptation of Camillo Boito's Italian short tale ‘Senso’, with Alida Valli and Farley Granger. ‘Senso’ is set around 1866, when the Italian-Austrian war of unification was coming to its end. The film opens in the La Fenice opera house in Venice with a performance of Il Trovatore where the two main characters are introduced to each other. The story takes place in both Venice and Verona, and despite all the drama oozing from the story, the life in Venice during the occupation by Austrian armies is superbly described. The movie was nominated for a ‘Golden Lion’ at the Venice movie festival.
The second, which won the Golden Palm at the 25th Cannes Film Festival in 1971, is based on the Thomas Mann novel of the same name, written in 1912, and set on Lido Island at the Grand Hotel Des Bains, starring Dirk Bogarde, Bjorn Andersen and Marisa Berenson. In this film, the main character is taking a long holiday and becomes obsessed with the stunning beauty of an adolescent Polish boy named Tadzio, who is staying with his family at the same hotel. Tadzio and his family go to Venice every day to visit the city, despite a terrible cholera infection going on, which, in the end, will kill the protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach, while he is staring at Tadzio playing with a friend on the beach.
It is also worth noting that Luchino Visconti and other filmmakers of the time employed my relative, Mario Serandrei, as a movie editor! He was a first cousin of my grandfather, and also was a screenwriter, then editor and finally a director. With Visconti, De Santis and Pagliero, in 1945, he directed ‘Giorni di Gloria’ (‘Days of Glory’), a documentary about the World War II Ardeatine massacre which was presented, during the Venice Film Festival in 1970. Unfortunately I never met Mario Serandrei because I died even before I was born.
As I already had the chance to tell you, in a previous newsletter, the Lido beach used to be quite fashionable in those years, and it is still an interesting place to visit, especially during the warm season. The Grand Hotel Des Bains is now under restoration and it will reopen in part as a hotel, and in part as flats.
Of course there are many other movies which have been set and/or screened here, but I can not write about all of them, with the exception of a recent one which has obtained a lot of publicity because of two very famous actors playing in it: Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. 'The Tourist’ (2010), is an action movie which takes place along Venice canals and ‘calli’ (narrow streets), where the two main characters will inevitably fall in love.
The above is only a small "taste" of Venice in the movies. This city is – according to almost everyone – a magical place where the most incredible things can happen, and where we hope all your dreams will come true, especially here at Ca’ Pisani! We are ready to satisfy your further curiosities on this (or a different) subject, but please remember to keep an eye on our website for our offers and best rates!
All the best