[Last Film I Saw] The Prince’s Manuscript (2000)

The Prince’s Manuscript poster

English Title: The Prince’s Manuscript
Original Title: Il manoscritto del principe
Year: 2000
Country: Italy
Language: Italian
Genre: Biography
Director: Roberto Andò
Writers:
Salvatore Marcarelli
Roberto Andò
Music: Marco Betta
Cinematography: Enrico Lucidi
Cast:
Michel Bouquet
Paolo Briguglia
Giorgio Lupano
Jeanne Moreau
Leopoldo Trieste
Massimo De Francovich
Laurent Terzieff
Veronica Lazar
Sabrina Colle
Roberto Nobile
Rating: 6.6/10

This film is a hagiography of Giuseppe Tomasi (Bouquet), the prince of Lampedusa, who is the author of Il gattopardo, one of the most influential Italian novel of XX century and is adapted on screen by Visconti, THE LEOPARD (1963). Directed by Roberto Andò, a native from Palermo, stars two French cinema icons Bouquet and Moreau (as the princess Licy).

The main through line of the film is the battling relationship between Giuseppe and his student Marco (Briguglia) in the 1950s, who is a talented 20-something writer who is cynic and aloof to the outside world, and holds an unstated rancour towards Guido (Lupano), Giuseppe’s adopted son and heir, a bright young man with dazzling charisma. Actually the film starts forty-years later, when Guido (De Francovich) comes to Rome to visit Marco (Terzieff) after a rather long time, obviously still troubled by the unspecified old scores, Marco shuns him in any possible way. Naturally, audience are in waiting to watch what is the old scores, the narrative insinuates back and forth between two different time periods although the 1950s takes a major portion of the story, and most of the time it is comprised of the intellectual conversation between Giuseppe and Marco, escorted by lilting sonatas, we also relish in the decaying but all the same resplendent glory of the residence and the hereditary poise of royal family.

But surprisingly there is no overt clarification of the old scores, understated and very much diluted alongside the lifelike reenactment of the past, but it is subtle yet detectable, there is something unrevealed, a taboo at that time or just too much for a hagiography, something has been carefully omitted. The cast is well-selected (De Francovich rings utter verisimilitude to the older Guido in real person), although nothing too demanding for them, most of time it feels like script-reading without too much comprehension of what the content is about, nevertheless, it is a film for the coterie who shares the knowledge of the backstory and artistically speaking, it is a pleasant fruition of a delicately assiduous production, what is more admiring, it show reverence to its protagonists and the history, a shoo-in for the highbrow niche.

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