Variations on Senso.
The use of the voice-over technique in Visconti’s film
The essay focuses on the peculiar use of the voice-over technique in Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954). The film is narrated by its leading female character, Countess Livia Serpieri, but since the voice is not located in an autonomous time-space, the conditions of its utterance remaining unknown, it turns out to be a deeply contradictory and even paradoxical narrative tool. Investigating Visconti’s film as a melodrama (understood here not just as a genre, but as a mode of articulating the narrative and stylistic elements of a filmic text), the absence of a complete flashback structure is analyzed in connection with both the first-person point of view of Camillo Boito’s short story upon which the film is based, and the movie’s own dialogues. Such a comparative approach is particularly useful as it allows us to fully grasp the different dynamics of subjectivity these texts describe and to point out the conflict between the film’s historical setting during the Third War of Italian Independence and its timeless story of love and betrayal.