Melodrama
in Film modernism
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Visconti’s intense realism touched on an extreme of spectacle and hence the unreal. Thus, there were two realities that interested Visconti: a cultural one (the text) and a performative one (setting and action). What made Visconti one of the greatest metteurs en scène of theatre and opera also made him one of the greatest metteurs en scène of the cinema: he imitated realities and brought them to life on stage or in front of a camera, putting them ‘in scene’, not exactly documenting them so much as spectacularising them, transfiguring them. This apparent opposition or mélange that mixed realism with theatricality, a punctilious concern with the real side by side with the artificial, are central to all his works and single him out, not only in Italy, but globally.

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