Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy/France, 1963. Titanus, Societe Nouvelle Pathe Cinema, Société Générale de Cinématographie. Screenplay and adaptation by Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Pasquale Festa Campanile, Enrico Medioli, Massimo Franciosa, Luchino Visconti, based on the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Goffredo Lombardo. Music by Nino Rota. Production Design by Mario Garbuglia. Costume Design by Piero Tosi. Film Editing by Mario Serandrei. Academy Awards 1963. Cannes Film Festival 1963.
Think of it as the Italian Gone With The Wind. Luchino Visconti’s splashy epic is a feast for the senses, both an enjoyable costume drama as well as a thought-provoking work of political art. In an audacious casting move, Burt Lancaster plays a prince who is the head of a Sicilian family in the late 19th century. With Garibaldi’s revolution on the move to unify all of Italy, the national aristocracy is getting nervous about the change and the country’s most important families fear for their own lives (or at least the ease with which they live them). Lancaster, on the other hand, has mixed feelings about the entire thing and sees the change as a necessary and unavoidable one. Also in the mix are his nephew (Alain Delon at his most dashing) who loves the daughter (Claudia Cardinale) of a rather vulgar landowner and whose experiences represent the change that the country is going through. Some of its talkier scenes run on a bit too long, but it is a sumptuous drama with plenty to learn about and admire. Try and see the 187 minute version with the original Italian dialogue, it’s far more satisfying than the 160 minute English dubbed version (with Lancaster doing his own dialogue).