Monday, 3 July 2017

On Luchino Visconti's "Il Gattopardo" (1963)

In a luxurious and expansive, and yet somehow oppressive and restrictive room, the sizeable household of a wealthy Sicilian prince, Don Fabrizio Cobera, are gathered to pray before the altar in a repetitious low drone of "Ave Maria"s. They are predominantly dressed in fine black clothes, try to hide their concerns behind outward expressions of pious devotion, and are waited on by a gaggle of butlers and footmen. Behind the continuous sound of Latin learned by rote, the viewer catches the sounds of cries, shouts, fury. Servants glance at one another nervously; the Prince and his attendants do their utmost not to notice or let it disturb their ritual. The angry noises which disturb this stuffy interior's equilibrium come from the world beyond books and chandeliers and orchards - for it is 1860, and Garibaldi and his nationalists are sweeping through Palermo.