A to-the-manor-born Count descended from the former ruling family of Milan and a one-time card-carrying member of the Italian Communist Party, an open homosexual and a practicing Catholic, Visconti’s seeming contradictions combined to create a filmography unlike any other. Reflecting both an aesthete’s taste for hedonistic, opulent decadence and a historical vision of class conflict steeped in Marx and Engels, Visconti’s sumptuously stylish films of ruling-class rot and fraught families made him one of the premier figures of mid-century arthouse and, in the words of Martin Scorsese, “one of the greatest artists in the history of cinema.”