March 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Book Review

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
Translated by Archibald Colquhoun, Introduction by Raleigh Trevelyan and illustrated by John Holder in THE FOLIO SOCIETY edition.
Also in paperback, but without Trevelyan’s Introduction and without illustrations:
A Panther book published by the Harvill Press. 198 pages. ISBN 1-86046-145-X £6:99

Book: The Leopard Leopard

The film of this great novel was made in 1963, by Luchino Visconti and it had the distinction of a four-star rating in Halliwell (praise indeed! – and well deserved for, in its uncut version it is a magnificent production). The reason I am including this review of two versions of the story, in the hardback Folio Edition and in the Panther paperback, is that my Editor’s Choice this month is an album of film music by Nino Rota that includes his score for Il gatopardo (The Leopard). The film starred Burt Lancaster as the Sicilian aristocrat Prince Fabrizio, Alain Delon as Tancredi and Claudia Cardinale as Angelica.

The Leopard traces the fortunes of Prince Fabrizio and his noble Sicilian family through the turbulent times of the Risorgimento (the process of the unification of Italy) when Garibaldi landed at Marsala, in Sicily in 1860 with his thousand ‘Red Shirts’ and within three weeks had taken Palermo and the island. It is a story of nobility in retreat, struggling to maintain their standards as their estates, already diminished are threatened still further. As Tancredi, the Prince’s worldy nephew realises, "We must change to remain the same." And so Fabrizio realises old nobility (represented by Tancredi) must marry new money (Angelica) daughter of the mayor. Lampedusa’s florid style full of wit and irony and sharp observations of human frailty brings this vital and colourful period in Italy’s history vividly to life.
For those who want to treasure this story I recommend the Folio Edition. It has an absorbing introduction by Raleigh Trevelyan that not only covers the life of di Lampedusa but also includes some fascinating detail about the authentic locations for the film including the palace used for the extended, climatic ball sequence. For those looking for a more economical alternative there is the Panther paperback.

Ian Lace

Folio Edition *****; Paperback ****(*)

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