Written by Books

The Leopard

Some years back, back when foreign language films were shown on terrestrial television, there were a couple of series I used to watch religiously. One was Moving Pictures presented by Howard Schuman, and the other was Moviedrome, presented originally by Alex Cox.
Now I can’t remember which of these two fine shows it was I was watching, but one of the films they were talking about was The Leopard. Thinking again now, I believe it may well have been Moving Pictures, as I seem to recall Howard Schuman imploring us to watch the screening of The Leopard later that evening as a rare treat. I duly set the video, as it was on late at night. And of course, I never quite got around to watching the film – well it’s over three hours long.
Schuman also explained it was based on a book that I hadn’t previously heard of. The title was intriguing nonetheless, and over the years I saw it a few times when browsing Waterstones. At some point last year, I decided it was a travesty that I didn’t read nearly enough foreign fiction in translation. I think this came about around the same time I discovered Henning Mankell, and realised that there was an entire imprint, Harvill, that specialised in translated material.
At Christmas, I finally got around to picking up a copy of The Leopard, and I finished it on the tube this morning. It’s actually quite a short book, though densely written book, so it’s not light reading. But it’s covers a fascinating period of Italian history of which I knew nothing of course. That seems too familiar a phrase to me at the moment. I obviously don’t study nearly enough history. Well worth reading.
So I shall now dust off my video – which does indeed seem to be rare since this film is unavailable on video or DVD (apart from in Italy) – and watch what is also supposed to be a masterpiece.