Il Gattopardo – or a guide on how to survive when your time in society is up
Il Gattopardo is a classic film created by the director Luchiano Visconti, with a very well chosen cast: Alain Delon playing the young, but ambitious and experienced Tancredi , Burt Lancaster , his aristocrat uncle , Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, and the talented beauty icon Claudia Cardinale , as Angelica, Tancredi’s wife-to-be and the daughter of the rich bourgeois, Don Calogero.
The film is based on the book with the same title, written by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and as it happens in the case of most of the classics’ works , the director succeeds in recreating the basic context with grace, elegance and respect for a familiar topic in Realist and Naturalist literature: the fall of aristocracy and the rise of a more pragmatic social category, the bourgeoisie.
A mixture of Balzac, Flaubert and Zola, when it comes to the presentation of the topic or the construction of the characters, with sceneries depicted from the Impressionist Monet, with humanist social and political views from the Renaissance , Il Gattopardo is a must for any movie fan.
The directing is as precise as a sharped knife, the work of a plastic surgeon, a perfectionist, noticeable in the details of every scene- the architecture of the buildings, the interiors, the costumes, the natural landscapes.
The acting of the young actors at the time, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, manage to equal at a certain level Burt Lancaster’s, expressing in such a dignified manner the tragedy of a man who doesn’t find his place anymore anywhere in the new formed society.
In order to survive, he agrees to a lesser marriage, with the wisdom of the one who knows that his time is up, and that the future belongs to a more superficial, uneducated social category, but who, unfortunately, makes the rules by using money and power. Does this sound familiar to you?
Even if he understands that he doesn’t fit anymore in a world he tries to comprehend and to accept as predestined, the prince says it all in the remark he makes at the almost end of the film, a remark which also explains the title and succeeds to level up a human universal truth: we all think at a certain point in our lives that we are immortal: ‘’ We were the leopards, the lions. Those who replace us will be the jackals, the hyenas. And all of us, leopards, lions, jackals and sheep, will continue to think we’re the salt of the earth.’’
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