Other/Miscellaneous > Off-Topic Discussion

The Leopard aka Il gattopardo (1963)

<< < (14/15) > >>

If I can possibly find the time I'll give it a look then. O0

The inevitable Groggy review. Long-winded as usual, but this film deserves it.

--- Quote ---Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (1963) stands as a landmark in Italian cinema. This sprawling adaptation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa's novel is long, beautifully shot and intricately plotted, creating a masterwork of commendable depth. 

Don Fabrizio Corbero, Prince Salina (Burt Lancaster) enjoys life in 1860s Sicily: he has a large family, vast estates, a young mistress and money to indulge his hobbies. Salina's life turns upside down when Giuseppe Garibaldi's Red Shirts capture the island. Salina takes the advice of his ambitious nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon): "Everything needs to change for everything to stay the same." Salina arranges Tancredi's marriage to Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), the daughter of Don Sedara (Paolo Stoppa), a nouveau riche in with the Republicans. As he negotiates with the new government, Salina realizes time has passed him by.

The Leopard provides no end of beautiful scenery, from Giuseppe Rotunno's pastoral shots of Sicily's countryside and elaborate palaces to the scenes of revolutionary turmoil. Visconti stages a violent street battle in Palermo, outdoing Hollywood epics in its breathtaking sweep. In Salina's mountain exile and hunting trips, Visconti scales individuals against verdant, unchanging landscapes. The scope and pageantry displayed is amazing: Visconti's come along way from his neo-realist roots.

Visconti dwells on ritual, incorporating church services, dinners and elections into his thematic texture. One remarkable scene has Salina's family visit a village cathedral. While priests in red-and-gold vestments toil in the foreground, the drably-clothed aristocrats fade gargoyle-like into the pews. There's Salina's dinner, rudely interrupted by Tancredi's storytelling and Angelica's raucous laughter. The most celebrated scene is the concluding ball, where traditional aristocrats mingle with military heroes and erstwhile revolutionaries. All beautifully express an ancien regime eclipsed by an uncertain future.

These rituals showcase Visconti's sensitive yet critical portrayal of this dying breed. Salina lives an empty life, a parade of church services, shooting trips and civic duties. His family is a constant headache: his wife (Rina Morelli) is a nagging prude, daughter Concetta (Lucilla Morlacchi) an introvert, Tancredi a reckless spendthrift. Hobbies (astronomy) and vices (his mistress) provide only little respite. Salina only rouses to action when events threaten, negotiating with power brokers to keep his family in sybaritic stasis. Visconti gently condemns the gentry by showing their superfluity.

Italy's resorgimento was a complicated series of wars and political deals, involving not only Italy's various states but Austria, France and Prussia. Visconti focuses on Garibaldi's dramatic early success, even then showing signs of dissolution. In the film's key scene, Salina explains to Victor Emmanuel's naive emissary (Leslie French) that Sicily's fierce independence causes them to resent interfering foreigners, however well-intentioned. His cynicism proves well-founded: Garibaldi himself becomes an undesirable as Italy transforms into an unstable monarchy.

Indeed, The Leopard evinces potent cynicism for bourgeois "revolution." The Red Shirts speak loudly of democracy but defer to established power structures. The rigged plebiscite is treated as a comic set piece, with Sedara's pompous victory speech interrupted by an overeager marching band. Visconti's scorn for middle class moralism has an interesting double-edge, as not only the hereditary Duke of Cardone but also a Communist. From this perspective, feudal Sicily at least lacks republican hypocrisy.

Lampedusa's broad narrative allows Visconti to flesh out characters and subplots. Cash-poor Tancredi and lower-class Angelica make a perfect love match, symbolically, practically and romantically. Initially a playboy, Tancredi proves a cagey survivor who joins the revolution to uphold family prestige. He has no use for the lovesick but complacent Concetta, herself romanced by a dashing soldier (Terence Hill). Sedara exploits events for personal gain, while Salina's friends Father Pirrone (Romolo Valli) and Ciccio (Serge Raggiani) see nothing but trouble ahead.

One mark of a classic is its influence on future filmmakers, something The Leopard has in spades. Sergio Leone borrowed a few grace notes (and several actors) for his later epics, but Francis Ford Coppola grafted Visconti's style wholesale onto The Godfather, from Connie's elaborate wedding to the lush Nino Rota score. Michael Cimino and Martin Scorsese paid homage less successfully in The Deer Hunter and Gangs of New York, respectively. There's a fine line between grandeur and excess, a tightrope Visconti effortlessly negotiates.

Burt Lancaster gives a remarkable performance. Physically imposing as always, Burt is nonetheless near-unrecognizable framed by leonine whiskers, aristocratic outfits and a dour expression. He's dubbed into Italian by Corrado Gaipa, which oddly benefits his performance: it's much easier to accept Lancaster as a 19th Century Sicilian without his unmistakable voice. Salina isn't a particularly noble character, but Lancaster provides him remarkable hauteur, warmth and humanity.

Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale provide a glamorous counterpoint. Delon mixes swashbuckling idealism with knowing cynicism, a ruthless but charming survivor. Cardinale gives possibly her best performance: Angelica's pouty reserve masks a vivacious personality and social ambition. Histrionics aside, has a more beautiful couple ever graced the screen? They're simply a joy to watch.

Romolo Valli (Death in Venice) provides warm support as Salina's grouchy priest. Paolo Stoppa (Once Upon a Time in the West) mixes bonhomie and vulgar craftiness in a complex character turn. Leslie French makes as an impression, too, as an idealistic Republican official. Spaghetti Western fans can spot Terence Hill, Giuliano Gemma and Lou Castel in minor roles.

The Leopard is a remarkable achievement. Long and stately at 185 minutes, its endlessly watchable for depth, scope and impeccable craftsmanship. It's Luchino Visconti's magnus opus, and one of Italy's greatest films. 9/10
--- End quote ---



A scene cut from Visconti himself, only available in french. The movie to be rereleased in Italy next week in restored versio in 70 theatres.

Wow! Do you think it will get a new BD release in Italy to replace the old one?

I think there are three scenes existing in French only:


I'm assuming these were part of the fabled 205 min premiere? I'm also assuming these won't be included in the new restoration? However, does anyone know if the French BD keeps these scenes intact?

dave jenkins:

--- Quote from: Novecento on October 23, 2013, 07:34:15 PM ---Wow! Do you think it will get a new BD release in Italy to replace the old one?

I think there are three scenes existing in French only:


--- End quote ---
Those scenes are not only weak, they actually detract from the work as a whole. The director was wise to excise them. Restoring them is actually a betrayal of Visconti's art. Of course, there is always money to be made on idiots who can be lured by the idea that "bigger is better," so longer cuts will continue to appear.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page

Go to full version