- Visconti's best film and the Greatest Italian Film of All Time... 3/10/2009 12:00:00 AM by artihcus022
Luchino Visconti was the last scion of the Visconti di Modrone family, one of the oldest and richest families in Italy. He was also a lifelong member of the Communist party, whose first major masterpiece, LA TERRA TREMA is one of the harshest and most compassionate films about the lives of Sicilian fishermen, which was furthermore shot in the Sicilian dialect and released in Northern Italy with the appropriate subtitles. Andre Bazin noted that the fishermen of that film seemed imbued with the nobility of Renaissance Princes. As an artist, Visconti was like his greatest character, Prince Fabrizio, "straddling two worlds and not comfortable in either." "The Leopard" is set in the period of the Risorgimento, the Re-Unification of Italy. It was in this period that a group of principalities and isolated city-states grouped together to form a single nation, the Modern Italy more or less as it exists today. The film is however set in Sicily, the small island situated below the toes of the Giant Boot of Italy. A small island that in centuries was invaded and conquered by foreign nations and rulers and never had a say in the running of it's land. The promise of "being a free state in a free country", articulated by the Chevalley(Leslie French), is for the Sicilians, too late or not enough, when they are charitable or merely the latest in a long line of outsider powers ruling the small region of golden fields and beautiful mountains that is uncaring of the problems of the people or the Salina family.
In the middle of this turmoil is Don Fabrizio Corbera, the Prince of Salina. A fictional aristocrat modeled in part on the grandfather of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. As incarnated by Burt Lancaster, Salina is a man of great presence and intelligence, he claims he is 45 but realizes at once that he is already very old when he learns that his daughter Conchetta is in love with his nephew Tancredi Falconeri(Alain Delon). He realizes that his daughter is no match for the ambitious and handsome nephew and that all his family has left is a name and fading splendor but no money at all. However Anjelica Sedara(Claudia Cardinale) is a Goddess and her father is as rich and upwardly mobile as he is crass and vulgar.
IL GATTOPARDO is a film that deals with the birth of the Middle Class. 19th Century Europe witnesses the slow disintegration of the aristocratic families and the arrival of the middle-class mercantile consumerist faction in it's wake. The film more importantly shows this process, gradually and symbolically but also precisely rendering the machinations in detail. Dozens of films can recreate history by simply play-acting an event, it's another thing to show it as a process. This is one of the great achievements of Visconti. The middle-class, the bourgeoisie will take power but it can do so step by step. First it supports a peasant-led popular revolution only to compromise it, then it accepts democracy only to sabotage it, and then through marriage establishing itself as the chief ruling class of a nation giving the old Leopards a shiny new cage in a stately zoo, in effect allowing the aristocracy to survive as the walking dead.
Released in 1963, Visconti's film must have felt a little incongruous. A big international production on a scale not seen since the commercial disaster of Ophuls' LOLA MONTES, an adaptation of a respected literary source and starring popular international stars - Lancaster, Delon, Cardinale. This was the period of the French New Wave of Modern Italian cinema as embodied in Antonioni and Fellini(Cardinale in fact went back and forth between this film and 8 1/2, essentially in two separate solar systems). Yet Visconti's film could not be conceivable any other way. A film about the dying aristocracy, this film is also about the classical tradition embodied in that culture which is slowly disappearing and which Visconti, despite being a progressive, was a product of.
So THE LEOPARD is also self-reflexive about it's own style and mode of storytelling, yet the ending of the film is also vastly more different and more richer than that of the novel that it takes as a source. The novel written by a cynical aristocrat dilettante is a work of great emotions the chief being nostalgia for the old ways. This nostalgia is tossed out by Visconti, alongside its shameless misogyny. In the transaction the characters are richer and deeper than their literary forebears.
Visconti put his entire heart and soul into THE LEOPARD. You will never see widescreen and colour used as powerfully in all of cinema as it is used in this film. Light, colour, camera movement and the movement of the actors is choreographed in a single whole, the framing has a depth of field that is unparalleled in film history, comparable only to the works of Welles, Ophuls and Mizoguchi. This is a true spectacle - rich and grand, yet personal and intimate.
- Portrait of powerful yet reflective man, who doesn't abuse his power 9/13/2000 12:00:00 AM by Peegee-3
This beautiful film, which I saw some time ago, remains in my memory as a profound study of a man in a position of power who thinks, reflects on important values, as well as his own aging process...and yet the film is never static. Burt Lancaster gave a brilliant performance...which I read was his favorite role. Visually, it is stunning. The long dance scene with Claudia Cardinale is justifiably famous...one of the sexiest scenes on film, in my opinion. To anyone interested in serious concerns, cinematically expressed with grace and intelligence, I would urge you to see this splendid film.
- Touches on the true meaning of aristocracy 6/3/2003 12:00:00 AM by Chris_Docker
Burt Lancaster plays a true aristocrat in an aristocracy that is not an aristocracy. The degeneracy as well as the sophistication of the rival political factions in warring Sicily is shown, and the human insight of the central character that embodies true nobility, even though he is largely powerless to make his ideals reality. Garibaldi is invading Sicily with an army of a thousand, landing in Marsala and advancing through Palermo. Prince Salina (Lancaster) is a noble of a disappearing age. He refuses a place in the new senate and is unable to convince the new wave that the unification will not be good for Sicily. He is caught between different loyalties. A love story between his nephew (played by Alain Delon) and a rich merchant's daughter (played by Claudia Cardinale) interweaves the action and heightens the moral dilemmas that Prince Salina has to face. A brave film, opposing, exposing and opposed by government and church. The full length restored edition is a cinematic gem and the opulent costumes and scenery are a treasure to behold.
- a film that just gets better with age, yours and its own! 7/18/2004 12:00:00 AM by humewood
I was rounding off a two year study in France in 1963 and I remember gazing at the marquee of a cinema in Paris shortly after the Cannes Festival, seeing "Le Guepard" advertised, beautiful Claudia Cardinale waltzing with handsome, courtly, Burt Lancaster. At the time, I made a mental note to see the movie but in fact, saw it for the first time many years later, on a black and white TV no less! Chopped up and edited as it was, in black and white, the film moved me immensely. I was absolutely thunderstruck by the dialogue which, when I read the Prince of Lampedusa's novel shortly after, I realized had been "lifted" verbatim from the novel in large chunks. What a novel and what a worthy and noble tribute to it Visconti has paid. I now own the Criterion three disk set of Il Gattopardo and never tire of watching what is for me, one of the great films of the twentieth century. Burt Lancaster, as the Prince of Salina, was an inspired choice for the cinematic role, though apparently he was not Luchino Visconti's choice. I think the Prince of Salina is Lancaster's finest performance.
- Glamorous as well as spectacular historical drama about the uprising of 1860's Sicily during the unification of Italy 5/11/2015 12:00:00 AM by ma-cortes
This known novel is magnificently brought to the screen with colorful images , impressive soundtrack , visually absorbing cinematography and sensitive as well as thoughtful events . An epic story dealing with Fabrizio Cordero , the Prince of Salina , the Leopard (Burt Lancaster , though 20th Century Fox asked Visconti to choose from among Anthony Quinn, Spencer Tracy and Lancaster ; Luchino wanted Laurence Olivier for the title role and he wanted to cast Nikolai Cherkasov , too). Salina is an upright aristocrat who attempts coming to terms with the new rulers of Sicily as well as overcome his family and class amid the troublesome social upheavals . Fabrizio observes the waning of his noble home and attempts to help build a new Sicily but his nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon , though Horst Buchholz turned down the role) , Prince of Falconeri (Alain Delon) assures his status by marrying Don Calogero Sedara's (Paolo Stoppa) gorgeous daughter Angelica (Claudia Cardinale) .
Luchino Visconti's enduring romantic adventure deals with the tumultuous social upheavals of 1860's Sicily , and it is paced in slow and deliberate rhythm . The film traces the rising and falling of Fabrizio Corbero , Prince of Salina and the corresponding rise to eminence of the hugely wealthy ex-peasant Don Calogero . However , the film results to be overlong , it seems longer than its 187 minutes running time . Based on the classic novel written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa , being scripted by Suso Cecchi D'Amico , Pasquale Festa Campanile and considered to be the best screen adaptation ever . Such was Luchino Visconti's attention to detail that it was shot in actual historical palaces , including authentic pictures , objects and tools . Concluding the climatic scene in the sumptuous forty-minute ball and long banquet where Tancredi introduces Angelica to society , it is deemed to be one of the greatest set pieces in film history . Originally released in USA in a badly dubbed 165 minutes version , picture was restored in 1983 to proper form .
Masterful interpretation by the great Burt Lancaster , The Prince of Salina , a noble aristocrat of impeccable integrity who tries to preserve his family against their dark destination and nice acting by Alain Delon as his ambitious nephew who swims with the tide and assures his own position . Support cast is pretty well , they give top-notch performances such as Paolo Stoppa , Romolo Valli , Terence Hill , Pierre Clémenti , Giuliano Gemma and Ida Galli . Colorful and evocative cinematography in Technirama wide screen system, by Giuseppe Rotunno . Classical and emotive score by Nino Rota . The motion picture was masterfully directed by Luchino Visconti and was shot over 11 of the hottest weeks of the year , being Martin Scorsese's favorite movie .
This celebrated story was well based on historical deeds , these were the followings : Sicily was invaded by "A corps of volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi landed in Sicily in order to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, ruled by the Bourbons" . The Expedition of the Thousand was an event of the Italian Risorgimento that took place in 1860. A corps of volunteers led by Giuseppe Garibaldi landed in Sicily in order to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, ruled by the Bourbons. The project was an ambitious and risky venture aiming to conquer, with a thousand men, a kingdom with a larger regular army and a more powerful navy. The expedition was a success and concluded with a plebiscite that brought Naples and Sicily into the Kingdom of Sardinia, the last territorial conquest before the creation of the Kingdom of Italy on 17 March 1861.The sea venture was the only desired action that was jointly decided by the "four fathers of the nation" Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel II, and Camillo Cavour, pursuing divergent goals. It is difficult to determine the true instigator: Mazzini desired to release the Mezzogiorno and Rome, whereas Garibaldi wanted to conquer in the name of Victor Emmanuel II, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and continue to Rome to complete the unity of Italy, and Cavour wanted to avoid at all costs conflict with his French ally, Napoleon III, who protected Rome.The expedition also brings new large collective ambiguity and misunderstanding: for Garibaldi, it is to achieve a united Italy; to the Sicilian bourgeoisie, an independent Sicily as part of the kingdom of Italy, and for the mass farmers, the end of oppression and land distribution