Il gattopardo / The Leopard (Italo-French, by Luchino Visconti with Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon)

Period : 2nd Republic / 2nd Empire
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Country : Italy / France
Medium : Technicolor
Duration : 185′
Video : Film Office
Production : Pathé / Goffredo Lombardo / SGC / Titanus
Scenario : Luchino Visconti, Massimo Franciosa, Enrico Medioli, Suso Cecchi d’Amico and Pasquale Festa Campanile after Giuseppe Tommasi di Lampedusa
Screenplay : Luchino Visconti
Music : Nino Rota et Giuseppe Verdi
Director of photography : Giuseppe Rotunno

Plot : After having beaten the Austrians at Varese and Brescia, Garibaldi’s camicie rosse took Siciliy in 1860. This expedition of the Mille was to change the social and political face of Southern Italy for ever. For the noble line of the Salinas, a patrician family in Palermo, the fall of the King of Naples, Francesco II, was to coincide with the end of ducal privilege and the taking of political power by the middle classes. But the marriage of the Duke’s nephew Tancredi (who had joined the revolutionary troops) to the daughter of the new mayor Sedara makes it possible to save face.

Cast : Burt Lancaster (Fabrizio Salina) ; Alain Delon (Tancredi) ; Claudia Cardinale (Angelica) ; Paolo Stoppa (Sedara) ; Serge Reggiani ; Romolo Valli ; Leslie French

Extract :
“Fabrizio. – Why are you dressed like that ? What are you doing ? Going to fancy-dress ball at this time of the morning ?
Tancredi. – I’m going, uncle. In an hour’s time. I’ve come to say goodbye.
Fabrizio. – Goodbye ? Why ? It’s not a duel, is it ?
Tancredi. – Yes ! The greatest of duels – one with the King of Naples, with Francesco the not-so-Great. I’m going into the hills at Ficusa. Great things are in the making and I don’t want to sit here at home with twiddling my thumbs – where, what is more, they will catch me straightaway.
Fabrizio. – You are mad to go along with men like that. They are bandits – a rabble. A Falconeri should be with us, for the King.
Tancredi. – For the King, I agree. But which King ? Can you tell me that ? For the King who wants to unify Italy, yes. But for Little Francesco, God bless him, no, uncle, no !
Fabrizio. – So you think that the King of Piedmont, the one they call the honest man, is better than the other, do you ? It’s simply Torinese in place of Napolitano, that’s all !
Tancredi. – Believe me, uncle, if we don’t get involved in the business, they will create a republic in less than no time. I’ll be back soon, uncle. And I shall bring the tricolore.
Fabrizio. – The tricolore – I see you’re full of expressions like that. Red and green instead of our fleur-de-lys on its spotless background. What can you possibly hope for from this mixture?”

Review : Chronologically speaking Visconti’s masterpiece Il gattopardo comes after Senso but before Death in Venice and Ludwig and in it he sets the slow moral decay of the aristocratic Salina family against the background of national tragedy. It is in the famous, ‘end of an epoch’ ball-scene, at which an engagement is celebrated, where all the characters are confronted with theirs and Sicily’s destiny, to the accompaniment of a slow waltz. At the same time as Napoleon III hands over the rest of the transalpine territory to Vittorio Emanuele, Prince Salina (Burt Lancaster) witnesses the political parties coming head to head in the small village of Donnafugata. The marriage of Tancredi (Alain Delon) to the proud and independent Angelica (the unforgettable Claudia Cardinale) gives the aristocratic past of the region a chance to build a future. The film was to have extraordinary success and was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival of 1963. Famously, it took forty days and more than one hundred stage technicians to shoot the ball scene.

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