Visconti & The Leopard

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Sonic Youth
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Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:28 am

Slightly apropos of the Doctor Zhivago thread just below, this is my 1960s technicolor epic of choice. My first viewing was last year on the big screen at Lincoln Plaza in New York (okay, maybe not such a big screen). I just watched it again last night on a Criterion disc. I don't know how much of a role the restoration and transfer played here - probably a lot, since it was overseen by the film's cinematographer - but it's a stunner to look at, a veritable tour through the Pitti Palace. It's so precisely crafted, every shot should be framed and hung on the wall. And in contrast to David Lean, this is an epic in which expansiveness is not meant to be an end result. This is a quiet, inwardly epic, a chamber drama on a mass scale. It's the sort of epic that today's audiences probably don't have the patience for. Influences are everywhere. I see the spontaneity of social functions that Coppola was to replicate in his "Godfather" saga, and the final shot is a dead ringer for Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence". And kudos to the most superb collaborative performance I've ever seen. I'm referring to Bert Lancaster and his dubbed voice. Lancaster is as imposing as you'd imagine a Sicilian prince to be. And whoever the voice actor is who put the Italian in Bert's mouth deserves royalties.
"What the hell?"
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