A parable about the approach of death, this centres around a slightly Prospero-like professor (Lancaster incarnating a role similar to the one he played in The Leopard) who finds his carefully nurtured, opulent solitude upset by the eruption into his life of a wealthy woman (Mangano) and her chaotic jet-set entourage. Berger, for whom the film on one level seems a valedictory love-song, plays an angel of death figure, to whom a certain mystery attaches. If the dolce vita-style intrusion is given distinctly Jacqueline Susann-like overtones by the rather dissociated dialogue in the English language version, Conversation Piece nevertheless comes across as a visually rich and resonant mystery, far more fluid and sympathetic than Death in Venice.
Cast and crew
Luchino Visconti, Suso Cecchi D'Amico, Enrico Medioli