Dripping Saliva in Luchino Visconti’s Leopard (1963) November 29, 2007Posted by Richard Bolisay in Cine Europa, European Films, Literature.
Original Title: Il Gattopardo
Directed by Luchino Visconti
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon
Based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel
What Luchino Visconti’s Leopard lacks is grip, a really strong grip, or perhaps a splash of water on our faces strong enough to wake us up or sustain our interest. A slit on our throat will probably do. From its opening sequence that introduces the civil war to a grand Sicilian ball that comprises almost a third of the film, everything is just there: hanging, floating, and flailing freely without strength, without the ability to affect our senses.
I believe this may be a huge disrespect on my part, for everywhere I go the reviews I read are positive, lauding Visconti’s masterful direction, the solemnity it creates, the magnificence of its actors, and somehow it reveals that the greatness of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s highly acclaimed novel is tantamount to the film’s popularity. Good thing because it gives me time to think if this is just a simple case of snobbery or a judgment affected by lack of sleep. The length of a film is never an issue with me — for I have withstood long hours watching Lav Diaz’s Ebolusyon ng Isang Pamilyang Pilipino, though I haven’t finished it which I suppose is not entirely my fault, and I consider Batang Westside as one of Philippine cinema’s greatest contribution to the arts — the best to come out in recent years, after we cease to exist for quite some time in the foreign circuit, if they don’t recognize us, do we still exist? — and if there will be a chance to see it over and over again I shall take an oath to stay the whole day inside the theatre, and other things in mind that I shall not mention because this is not to boast the long films I have seen but at least to help me in this assertion — but The Leopard is a motionless tedium. It is not dragging, for even films that drag have their moments of brilliance, of almost-there brilliance. And Alain Delon, who can win a zillion hearts with just a wink of an eye (too bad one of them is hidden), is disappointing to the point that I wish I haven’t seen him. He is pathetically charmless. In L’Eclisse, it is the exact opposite.
Lavish production and big stars could be extremely boring at times. After yawning for which I suppose is the one thousand three hundred and seventy-fourth time, the tree of the wooden clogs that greeted me in my dream tells me that I am being asked a rhetorical question, so fella don’t respond in return. *