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Movies for a Hot Summer Night
When asked to recommend some films for a summer evening’s entertainment, I first thought of David Lean’s romantic masterpiece, SUMMERTIME, made in 1955 and starring Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi. It is the story of a spinster school teacher on vacation in Venice, who is seduced by the magic of one of the world’s most romantic cities.
Well, thinking about Venice triggered thoughts of two other films shot in Venice, but unlike the sunny atmosphere of SUMMERTIME, both of these are dark and disturbing.
First, there is DON’T LOOK NOW, based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier (the author who wrote the original books on which the films REBECCA and THE BIRDS are based.) This 1973 film stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, and was directed by Nicolas Roeg. It is a ”Hitchcockian” thriller about a couple who comes to Venice to try and get over the tragic drowning death of their young daughter, and who encounter some ominous and strange characters during their stay, and discover a mysterious side of this fabulous city.
The other film, revealing an even darker side of Venice, is 1990’s THE COMFORT OF STRANGERS, directed by Paul Schrader, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter. It stars Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett, as a young British couple who come to Venice to rekindle their romance, and who are befriended by a strange but compelling Italian couple, played by Christopher Walken and Helen Mirren. It is a very unsettling movie, but really fascinating, in a creepy way.
I cannot leave you with this impression of my favorite city, so I will end by recommending CASANOVA, starring Heath Ledger and Sienna Miller, which just came out in the fall of 2005. It is delightful romp, with marvelous performances, and stunning views of eighteenth century Venice. It will make you want to turn off your DVD player (but wait for the end of the movie because there are some very funny twists in the plot) and call your travel agent to book your trip to this fabled city as soon as possible!