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The Leopard / Il gattopardo (1963) - dir. Luchino Visconti


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I watched this Criterion Collection film a few weeks ago. Who here has seen it?

 

As I was considering whether, and later, when, to watch it, I initially didn't think Burt Lancaster would be able to convincingly pull off a 19th-century Sicilian aristocrat. And I confess that I decided to watch it mostly because it had been a Cannes Palme d'Or winner, I wanted to see what else Visconti had done after I'd recently watched and liked Death in Venice (I saw Ludwig years ago but didn't much like it and don't remember it that well), and I wanted to see Alain Delon ('nuff said lol).

 

I have to say that despite my initial misgivings, Lancaster actually did a pretty good job. Once I'd gotten into the story, I didn't really notice that he was an American Hollywood star, who should have seemed completely out of place among all the Italian actors.

 

The film is kind of long and slow, but I think that's what Visconti was aiming for. Also filled with melancholy, especially in a very dramatic soliloquy that Lancaster delivers toward the end. Beautiful costumes and a great score. It's far from a favorite, but I enjoyed it overall. It's one of those films you (I) have to be in a certain mood to enjoy watching.

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I've seen it. I agree that being in the proper frame of mind helps. Be prepared for a languorous pace. I liked it, but out of all of the revered Italian directors, I think I like Visconti the least. There are still several I need to see, but I did like Ossessione and Rocco & His Brothers.

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I saw The Leopard many years ago, when it was restored and shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I wasn't awed by it. It wasn't the length -- after all, I love the films of Jacques Rivette -- I just found it pretty but hollow.

 

I have liked a few Visconti films. A film about him would be interesting. He was a gay, communist, aristocrat (a count, actually). 

 

Here he is with Helmut Berger, who was his boyfriend.

 

helmut-berger-luchino-visconti-610902.jp

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It's certainly one of my favorite films.  In our choices for best performances of 1963 I gave Lancaster best actor, Delon best supporting actor and Cardinale best support actress.  I also provided a post of Roger Ebert's review, which you can see here:  http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-leopard-1963

A most laudatory review by Ebert there.

 

I am surprised to read that the Prince was supposed to be only 45. I took him to be closer to his 60s.

 

I was also surprised to see that Visconti had cast actual descendants of Sicilian aristocratic families as extras.

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None of the Visconti films I've seen have wowed me, but I don't dislike any of them, either. The Leopard is ponderously paced, which is par for the course with Visconti, but pretty to look at, which is also par for the course. I'd agree that you have to be in the right mood for it. I wish there were more moments as fine as the silent conga line.

 

Maybe Senso, still unseen, will be the one to make me love Visconti. For those not drawn to Visconti, The Stranger is a good adaptation of the Camus novel, with a satisfying central performance by Marcello Mastroianni. Rocco and His Brothers is like an Italian version of Written on the Wind, and if you like Alain Delon and/or soapy melodrama, that's a good one to try. White Nights is a good romantic drama, especially for those who like Maria Schell. Sandra (Vaghe stelle dell'Orso) can sometimes be found online, starring Claudia Cardinale as a sister who tries to break away from the incestuous feelings of her brother.

 

Swithin, thanks for posting the picture of Visconti and Helmut Berger.

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I saw The Leopard many years ago, when it was restored and shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I wasn't awed by it. It wasn't the length -- after all, I love the films of Jean Rivette -- I just found it pretty but hollow.

 

I have liked a few Visconti films. A film about him would be interesting. He was a gay, communist, aristocrat (a count, actually). 

 

Here he is with Helmut Berger, who was his boyfriend.

 

helmut-berger-luchino-visconti-610902.jp

 

Very interesting. After watching the film, I had read on the 'net that Visconti was gay and had been involved with Zeffirelli (whom I had not known was gay--oops, I guess that should be, IS gay, since he's still alive. I have to admit that that bit about Zeffirelli casts the scene of the nude Romeo in Romeo and Juliet in a whole new light.). And now that you've brought this up, I am reading in Wikipedia that there were allegations that Lancaster was bi or gay, as well.

 

It's particularly interesting in the context of this discussion about The Leopard because while watching the film, I was wondering about that kind of strange scene toward the beginning in which the Prince makes the priest very uncomfortable by asking the priest to engage him in a conversation while the Prince is naked in his bath, even telling the priest to hand him a towel and dry him off. I wondered whether that scene was straight from the novel or was introduced for the film--and what was its intended significance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

 

It's particularly interesting in the context of this discussion about The Leopard because while watching the film, I was wondering about that kind of strange scene toward the beginning in which the Prince makes the priest very uncomfortable by asking the priest to engage him in a conversation while the Prince is naked in his bath, even telling the priest to hand him a towel and dry him off. I wondered whether that scene was straight from the novel or was introduced for the film--and what was its intended significance.

 

I haven't read The Leopard in years, but I think the Prince makes the priest uncomfortable in his bath for the same reason he later makes him uncomfortable by talking him along to a rendezvous to his mistress.  Because part of the aura of being a aristocrat is having the power to do that and make other people have to take it.

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I've seen it. I agree that being in the proper frame of mind helps. Be prepared for a languorous pace. I liked it, but out of all of the revered Italian directors, I think I like Visconti the least. There are still several I need to see, but I did like Ossessione and Rocco & His Brothers.

Ossessione in some ways is more rewarding to watch than the Turner/Garfield version and Rocco and His Brothers predates all Diner-like life passages films. The Leopard is a masterful film. I can't say I enjoy seeing actors dubbed when their voice is well known but that's my only objection.

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I love the films of Luchino Viscounti - and, as he aged, they certainly became more ambitious.

 

To this day, I am amazed that he got such a strong film out of Thomas Mann's high-minded and exceedingly literary novella, "Death In Venice".

 

He captured "the spirit" of the famed novella, which was about "the experience" of exquisite beauty into a existence which could not capture it (von Aschenbach's struggles with his own music).

 

Except, that, in the film, Tadzio is much more "knowing".

 

ffb371b9ddbd631d15a7d5a2766dd936.jpg

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