Luchino Visconti de Modrone, Count of Lonate Pozzolo (November 2, 1906 – March 17, 1976) was an Italian stage director, screenwriter, and filmmaker. Visconti, a major figure in Italian art and culture in the mid-twentieth century, was one of the fathers of cinematic neorealism, but later shifted to luxurious, sweeping epics dealing with themes of beauty, decadence, death, and European history, particularly the decay of the nobility and bourgeoisie. He received several awards, including the Palme d’Or and the Golden Lion, and many of his movies are considered very influential to subsequent generations of filmmakers.
Visconti, who was born into a Milanese noble family, began his creative career as an assistant director to Jean Renoir. Ossessione, his directorial debut in 1943, was vilified by the Fascist administration for its unvarnished representations of working-class citizens turning to criminality, but it is now regarded as a seminal work of Italian film. Senso (1954) and The Leopard (1963), both historical melodramas based on Italian literary masterpieces, the gritty drama Rocco and His Brothers (1960), and his “German Trilogy” – The Damned (1969), Death in Venice (1971), and Ludwig (1973) – are among his best-known films (1972). He was also a skilled stage director of plays and operas in Italy and abroad.