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Visconti, Luchino (1906-1976)  
page: 1  2  

Visconti's personal life was marked by tempestuousness and emotional upheavals. Early in his career he maintained a scrupulous detachment from the actors and singers whose careers he helped to launch; but by the end of the 1960s, he became passionately involved with several young artists. This aspect of his life came to light when letters that he wrote to several young men, including the actor Helmut Berger, became public in the 1980s.

The arc of Visconti's film career mirrors his increasing openness about his homosexuality. His first proletarian epic, La terra trema, contained many stunnningly composed images of young men at work, whereas his later epic, Rocco e i suoi fratelli, constantly depicts Alain Delon in close-up, framed and lit in the most glamorous movie-star style, while there is a subplot involving a boxing promoter who pays young men for sex. The homoeroticism of Götterdämmerung, Morte a Venezia, and Ludwig is overt and configured in terms of obsession.

Critical opinion on Visconti's work remains sharply divided. Except for those critics who are totally dismissive (usually citing Visconti's decorative tendencies, which may be a coded term for his homosexual sensibility), however, most critics find at least one of his films praiseworthy, although each may cite a different one.

The divided response to Visconti's life and career points to a figure of great complexity, one of the towering figures of Italian culture in the twentieth century.

Daryl Chin

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Since the 1960s, European film has included significant gay-themed films, many of them directed by openly gay and lesbian directors.

arts >> Overview:  Film

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arts >> Overview:  Film Directors

Gay, lesbian, and bisexual film directors have been a vital creative presence in cinema since the medium's inception over one hundred years ago.

arts >> Bogarde, Sir Dirk

Although British film star Dirk Bogarde only tacitly acknowledged his homosexuality during most of his life, he deserves credit as the first actor to create a sympathetic gay character in British film.

arts >> Dolce & Gabbana
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Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana, partners both in business and in life, are known for their sexy, glamorous women's clothing and sharp men's tailoring, all of which embody a distinctively southern Italian feel.

arts >> Granger, Farley

Actor Farley Granger was best known for playing strikingly handsome yet emotionally vulnerable young men in classic 1940s films, but his long and productive career encompassed theater and television roles as well.

arts >> Horst, Horst P.

German-born American photographer Horst P. Horst, known most widely as simply "Horst," created some of the most memorable images of the mid-twentieth century.

literature >> Mann, Thomas

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arts >> Zeffirelli, Franco

Controversial Italian director Franco Zeffirelli has won both acclaim and derision for his visually extravagant opera, stage, and film productions, while also provoking the ire of many gay men and lesbians for his anti-gay religious positions.


Leprohon, Pierre. The Italian Cinema. Roger Greaves and Oliver Stallybrass, trans. New York: Praeger, 1972.

Nowell-Smith, Geoffrey. Visconti. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968.

Servadio, Gaia. Luchino Visconti: A Biography. New York: F. Watts, 1983.

Stirling, Monica. A Screen of Time: A Study of Luchino Visconti. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979.


    Citation Information
    Author: Chin, Daryl  
    Entry Title: Visconti, Luchino  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated February 4, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  


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