DVD Review: Conversation Piece (Masters of Cinema)

Italy was once the home of some of the greatest film directors in the world. Fellini is arguably up there with the greats, and the likes of Antonioni, Rossellini, Pasolini, Bertolucci, De Sica and Zeffirelli aren’t far behind. However, the crowning glory of Italian cinema is arguably Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard. The milanese made fourteen films over a period of three decades. One of his last was Conversation Piece.

Living a solitary life in his opulent Milan residence, a retired American professor (Burt Lancaster) wants nothing to do with people or the outside world. Then one day his peaceful life is shattered when a brash marchesa (Silvana Mangano) enters his life with her lover (Helmut Berger), daughter (Claudia Marsani) and her daughter’s boyfriend (Stefano Patrizi) . He is persuaded, in no uncertain terms, to rent them his upper floor of his home. As he’s drawn into their dramas the professor finds his tranquillity shattered.

Whilst Conversation Piece is not Visconti at his best, it’s still a fascinating cinematic work laced with intrigue and political undertones. The film was made two years after the director was left semi-paralysed by a stroke, but he’d lost none of his bite. The title itself refers to 18th century English paintings which depict informal group portraits. Visconti riffs on this, delving into the dynamic between the characters; exposing their flaws and weaknesses.

Special Features:

  • 1080p transfer of the film from a brand new 2K restoration
  • Features both the original English language soundtrack and the Italian dub track that was produced at the same time
  • Optional English SDH (for the English track) and optional English subtitles for the Italian track
  • Interview with critic and screenwriter Alessandro Bencivenni
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: Booklet featuring a new essay by Pasquale Iannone.

Conversation Piece is released on dual format Blu-ray and DVD by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on Monday.

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