Tag Archives: Alain Delon

Oldies but goldies: Il Gattopardo (1963)

Director: Luchino Visconti; Main Cast: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia CardinalePaolo StoppaRomolo Valli;

Gattopardo

In this sumptuous and luscious adaptation of the eponymous novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Visconti paints a rich portrait of Sicily during the war of independence in 1860 and the following years, bringing to life Prince Fabrizio (Lancaster) and his family and retainers.  In a period of political and social upheaval Fabrizio Cordero, Prince of Salina, refuses to take sides while his young and dashing nephew, Tancredi (Delon) Prince of Falconieri, joins Garibaldi and his volunteers to free Sicily from the Bourbons and be part of the newly created kingdom of Italy. The two characters embody the dichotomy of old and new: Fabrizio represents the fading aristocracy while Tancredi, who is smart and ambitious, is the emerging ruling class.

Prince Fabrizio is cynical and jaded but also proud of his name and family and attached to tradition. He is torn between upholding the continuity of upper class values, and breaking tradition to secure continuity of his family’s influence. On the other hand, Tancredi sees right away the need for the aristocracy to adapt and transform itself in order to be influential when the new order is established. As a mean to this end he fights on the side of the revolutionary (later joining the regular Savoy army) and starts courting Angelica (Cardinale), beautiful daughter of Don Calogero Sedara (Stoppa), nouveau riche and newly elected mayor of Donnafugata (small town near the Salina estate).

The film follows quite faithfully the book, keeping as main theme the struggle between mortality and decay (death, fading of beauty, fading of memories, change of political system.) and abstraction and eternity (the prince’s love for the stars and calculations, continuity and resilience to change of the Sicilian people). Burt Lancaster’s brilliant and nuanced performance (the best of his career) is what makes it really work, lavish and rich costumes and settings notwithstanding, and Delon and Cardinale are perfect and stunningly beautiful in their roles.

The most memorable sequence is the ball when Angelica is officially presented as Tancredi’s fiancee and the most memorable quote (directly from the book) is:  Things will have to change in order that they remain the same (said by Prince Fabrizio)Spectacular and captivating —9/10

This post is part of the Beyond the Cover – Books to Film Blogathon organised by Now Voyaging and Speakeasy. Go and check all the great posts out in this blogathon:

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Oldies but goldies: Plein Soleil (1960)

Director: René Clément; Main Cast: Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt;

plein-soleil

Handsome but penniless Tom Ripley (Delon) has been tasked by wealthy Mr. Greenleaf to bring back home to San Francisco his wayward son Philippe (Ronet), who is gallivanting around Italy.  Philippe is living large with his girlfriend Marge (Laforet) in Naples and the audience finds Tom tagging along and being Philippe’s buddy and occasional virtual punching bag. Philippe is good looking, viveur and self-confident, his money gives him the freedom that Tom doesn’t have. It’s obvious since the beginning that Tom is both attracted to and envious of Philippe, we can see him clearly thinking: ” I can be like him, I just need money!”. On the other hand, Philippe is intrigued by Tom’s many talents but repulsed by his lowly social standing and the creepy vibes he gives off. Tom’s meekness and subservient attitude seems to excite Philippe’s mean streak to the point that even Marge takes Tom’s defense. The tension gradually builds up while the strain on the relationship between these three characters grows, all in great contrast with the beautiful scenery of Southern Italy. This adds a somewhat sinister twist to reassuring surroundings and the scenes on the sailing boat become almost claustrophobic. As Tom’s hope of obtaining the reward Philippe’s father has promised fades, his fantasies of riches and easy life coalesce into a much darker plan to gain what he wants. The second half of the film revolves around Tom’s schemes and maneuvers to keep his dream alive, not letting anything gets in his way. Clement adapts skillfully this story of envy, deceit and delusion of grandeur based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley. His expert use of the blazing white and blue of Italian summer and the lovely settings in Naples and Rome brings an additional layer to the unfolding drama. The cast delivers solid performances, Alain Delon is a perfect embodiment of Tom with the right mix of charm and slyness. The only point that raised involuntary laughters was Marie Laforet’s crying scene, similar to every display of sorrow by any Disney princess. This is a very minor flaw that doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film. In comparison to the more recent adaptation, this is a far superior movie with a better and more convincing casting.  Dazzling —7.5/10

This is my entry to the The Beach Party Blogathon hosted by Silver Screening and Speakeasy. Ruth and Kristina will keep the party going all week, go and check their blogs!

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