The Leopard (1963)
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The Leopard was one of the most popular Italian novels of the 20th century. An historical epic about a Sicilian prince who must navigate the social upheaval that came with Italy’s unification in the mid-19th century, it was written by a man who was in a position to know about fading aristocracy—Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa was a Sicilian aristocrat and the last Prince of Lampedusa, and his novel was inspired by his great-grandfather.
This novel, which paid tribute to the old order while taking a decidedly pessimistic view of liberalism’s promise of a new dawn for mankind, was adapted into a classic film starring Burt Lancaster and directed by Luchino Visconti. Though Visconti was a Communist, he was also the descendant of Milanese nobility, and made a film which treats the old nobility with sympathy, yet without rose-colored glasses.
The Leopard (1963) was included on the Vatican’s 1995 list of great films, under the category of Art. Joining the podcast to discuss this film is David Paul Baird, co-author of a book on the Vatican film list forthcoming from Word on Fire.
Music is The Duskwhales, “Take It Back”, used with permission. https://theduskwhales.bandcamp.com
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