Where: The Belcourt
When: May 28-29
When Martin Scorsese tells you a movie is “one of the greatest visual experiences in cinema,” listen up. Luchino Visconti’s ravishing 1963 filming of the Giuseppe di Lampedusa novel has been called “the Gone with the Wind of Italy,” and though it might be — albeit directed by a gay Marxist of aristocratic lineage whose sensibility encompassed both neo-realism and opera — that’s as reductive as calling Crime and Punishment “the CSI: Miami of Russia.”
The backdrop is the 19th century tumult of the Risorgimento, as Garibaldi’s forces leave the mainland for Sicily and the onset of Italian unification. As the patriarch Don Fabrizio, Prince of Salina, considers the options for his waning line — which narrow to marrying his cruelly handsome but conviction-free nephew (Alain Delon) to a mayor’s daughter (Claudia Cardinale) socially beneath him — the aging lion contemplates not just the end of a way of life, but the end of living.
As Don Fabrizio, Burt Lancaster embodies masculine grace and mortal regret with a sensualist’s poise. The movie builds to a justly famous setpiece, a 45-minute ball sequence in which the refined prince ruefully bids farewell to class, in every sense of the word. The 187-minute movie (with a 10-minute intermission) will be shown in the version overseen by Scorsese’s Film Foundation, in a new 35mm print. If the print’s as spectacular as the one of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes that The Belcourt showed a few weeks back, it’ll be like seeing a Caravaggio canvas with the paint still wet.
P.S. The trailer above is for the cut American version; the version The Belcourt is showing is in subtitled Italian. I'm planning on going Sunday night, and the print is said to be magnificent. In the meantime, check out this excellent piece by Matthew Wilder from the last time the movie played in Nashville.