I'm afraid I may be a bit of a Philistine, because I simply couldn't for the life of me see any genuine merit in the film at all aside from its excellent cinematography. It is a beautiful film to look at: sumptuous sets, extravagant and luxurious colour everywhere, fabulous costumes. However, there comes a point when being good looking isn't enough. Some paint is very attractive, but watching it dry for two and a bit hours still doesn't constitute either art or entertainment.
Perhaps if Signor Visconti had considered some dialogue in place of the seemingly interminable long meaningful looks across crowded rooms. Perhaps if he'd thought about some way of establishing a plot instead of simply putting onto the screen a constant stream of what I would think of as establishing shots. But it was not to be. We managed to sit through the whole thing, but it was a close run thing.
The performances are overdone with Bogarde appearing unsure about whether to sit and do nothing in a deep and meaningful manner or clutch his forehead in repressed homosexual angst. Unconvincing and hammy.
Sorry to any rabid fans of this film out there -I know it's revered in some circles and I'm worried that I've missed something - but I just don't get it.
Dong and Shazzerooneypoos seemed to share this opinion, with Dong taking a fag break at about the hour and ten minute mark into the film and returning to catch up with plot developments to be told we'd just learned the name of a central character. The snackettes that they brought with them, though, were wonderful: chilli coated pickled garlic cloves, ginger in dark chocolate and mushrooms in balsamic dressing. Yum yum yum.
I should apologise to Mrs The Millbrooker for the disturbed night after I ate a huge quantity of the chilli garlic with not entirely unexpected results.