Netflix has released first images of the limited series “The Leopard”, based on the classic Sicilian novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the streamer’s most ambitious Italian original to date.
Production of the lavish historic tapestry with elements similar to “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown” – and potential to make a global mark – is currently underway in the Sicilian cities of Palermo, Syracuse and Catania. The show is a modern take on the sensual Sicilian saga, famously filmed by Luchino Visconti starring Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and Burt Lancaster. The film, now an Italian cinema classic, won the 1963 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Published posthumously in 1958, “The Leopard” chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the 19th-century unification of Italy, known as the Risorgimento. It became the best-selling novel in modern Italian literature of its time and was translated into more than 40 different languages.
Set against the backdrop of the social revolution in 1860s Sicily, the six-episode epic stars top model Deva Cassel — the daughter of Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel — as Angelica Sedara, the young, dazzling middle-class woman who becomes a catalyst of social disruption and was played by Cardinale in the original. It’s a big breakout role for Cassel, seen below, who recently made her acting debut in Laura Luchetti’s Locarno-bound “The Beautiful Summer.”
Italian Kim Rossi Stewart (“Romanzo Criminale”) plays Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, who was played by Lancaster in the masterpiece film. The show’s main cast also includes Saul Nanni (“Love & Gelato”) as the Prince’s cousin, Tancredi Falconeri, played by Alain Delon in the film. Benedetta Porcaroli (“Baby”) plays Concetta, his cousin, who is madly in love with Tancredi (see image below).
In an exclusive statement, Eleonora Andreatta — who, as Netflix’s VP of Italian Originals, oversees the streamer’s local output of original series, movies and unscripted shows — emphasized that the series “represents Netflix’s great artistic and prolific ambition in Italy ,” adding that “’The Leopard’ aims to transpose into a sumptuous and exciting series the vitality and contemporary relevance of Tommasi di Lampedusa’s masterpiece.”
Andreatta further praised the book as “one of those novels that has the rare quality of depicting a moment in history while transcending time, thanks to the central role of a character – the Prince of Salina – who has become a myth in and of itself, but also stands for a special view of life and of man.”
The chief of Netflix Italy noted that although almost 70 years have passed since the book shook the literary world of the 1950s, the story “still surprises for the wealth of current events it contains”.
“As in the novel, today we are faced with a society caught in the uncertainty of a transition, in which old traditions collide with new emerging ideas and values,” said Andreatta.
“The contrast between the Prince of Salina and the young Tancredi represents the dialectic between preserving the past and clinging to change, a theme that continues to resonate strongly in our society in search of points of reference, especially among the new generations,” Andreatta further elaborated, making it clear that the show is aimed at younger generations as well as older audiences.
British director Tom Shankland, whose credits include Netflix’s true crime series “The Serpent”, is the lead director of the series “The Leopard”. Richard Worlow, who previously worked with Shankland on ‘The Serpent’, is co-writing the script with Benji Walters. Italian directors Giuseppe Capotondi and Laura Luchetti direct episodes 4 and 5 respectively.
Regarding production values, Andreatta noted that, as with the Visconti film, “We chose to shoot on location, from Palermo to Syracuse and Catania, which allowed us to appreciate the variety of this beautiful environment, rich in beauty and with a record history. of stratified civilization mixing Greek and Arab and Norman cultures. This too is ‘The Leopard’.”
She continued: “We immersed ourselves in the opulence of the 19th century, between astonishing baroque palaces and the vibrant colors of a sun-scorched land. This is a great value that we are sure can fascinate the Italian public, but also conquer international viewers with its magic.”
“Freedom of thought, equality and the desire for change in the face of stagnation are among the fundamental themes that writers Warlow and Walters have cleverly woven into the scripts throughout the season’s six episodes,” said producer Fabrizio Donvito of growing Italian Indiana Production. . . The shingle produces “The Leopard” in association with Moonage Pictures, the UK banner led by the producers behind “Peaky Blinders”.
Donvito noted that the production includes thousands of extras and custom costumes, furniture, and sets created after a long, painstaking study of the period.
“There’s breathtaking craftsmanship here,” said Moonage Pictures co-founder Will Gould, noting, “Richard Warlow’s beautiful scripts brought to life by truly exceptional performances by Kim and the cast.”
“There is a rare creative alchemy at work that elevates this production beyond our highest expectations, producing something so special; that’s quintessentially Italian, but that will delight and delight a global audience,” Gould added.
The budget and release date of Netflix’s “The Leopard” are being kept under wraps.
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