Casanova is a term that stands for a person who is crazy about persons of the opposite sex. He is known for a dissolute life in which he loved many women but just as quickly left them for another.
The real Giacomo Casanova lived in the 18th century and about his life a thick book was written (by himself). This book not only makes clear what he was up to but also what life was like in Europe at that time. However, this womanizer is also known for his life as a gambler, because he was certainly good at that.
Casanova’s great love of women and romance
Of course, everyone will immediately think of Casanova’s relationship with women. He himself frankly admitted that he had a great liking for them and that he loved women, but that he also wanted to make himself loved by the opposite sex. However, he didn’t just stick to spending the night with women but also brought romance into the game and sometimes even staged some kind of play for them there to achieve his goal.
Not always neat
He did this, for example, by conquering women who were unhappy with another man. If a woman was in trouble, Casanova would come to her rescue. He used his tricks but also his intelligence and connections and once the problem was solved, the woman in question would certainly be grateful. Which he then exploited by seducing her.
Soon he would be tired of her again and look for another lady but not before he had tried to find a good replacement for himself so that the woman would not be left alone. It may sound neat but by today’s standards it is disappointing because he also had a preference for very young girls, which today is really labeled as pedophilia.
The early years of Casanova
Casanova’s life began in 1735 when he was born in Venice. When his father died when he was only eight years old, he became the man of the house but this was short-lived. He then came to live with his grandmother, went to a boarding house and then came to live with a priest. There he got to know women at a young age thanks to the priest’s sister who introduced him to the sexual pleasures of life as early as an adolescent.
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Studies and work
He then went to the University of Padua where he managed to obtain a degree in law and was immediately introduced to the gambling world. This was not exactly a great success because he incurred so much debt that by the time he was about 20 years old, he had to return to his grandmother in Venice. He started a law practice and already knew how to find the ladies as well.
He actually preferred to become a professional gambler but that did not work out well and he again got into debt. Successively he got work as a violinist and became the assistant of a nobleman who showed him the way in the society and art world, but that lasted until he became a rival because they had a crush on the same woman.
Many wanderings through Europe
Casanova did nothing on the sly and it was soon noticed that he engaged in duels, flirted in public, seduced women and gambled. This even earned him a sentence where he was sequestered for five years but a transfer to another prison made it possible for him to escape and he fled to Paris. He roamed all over Europe, getting acquainted with the High Society and maintaining himself by gambling. In addition, his list of conquests only grew larger and larger.
Back to Italy, Vienna and then the Czech Republic
In the seventies of the 18th century he was allowed to return to Venice but, of course, he was looking a little worse for wear and financially things were not exactly going his way either. When his mother died, things did not go well and he was banished from the city again in 1783.
He then ended up in Vienna where he got a job with the Venetian ambassador but this only lasted until 1785 when his employer died. He found work in what is now the Czech Republic where he became a librarian for a duke.
Thick pill about his own life
His health increasingly failed him and he himself became less and less popular. This led him to decide to write a book about his life and experiences, which resulted in The Story of My Life. An epic in twelve parts because there is quite a lot to tell. He managed to reach the age of 73 and died in 1798. Through his own work his story managed to stand the test of time and nowadays everyone still knows his experiences and he is considered immortal by many. Partly because his name is associated with a concept that is widely known.
Life as a professional gambler turned out to be not so successful
So much for the life of Casanova. If we take a look at how he fared as a gambler, it is not always a positive one. He knew how to play many different games that were popular in the gambling world at the time and he would undoubtedly have thrown himself into Poker as well, were it not for the fact that this game did not become known in its current form until almost a century after his death.
When he was around twenty, he decided to make a living as a professional gambler and did everything he could to become successful, but it wasn’t easy. He tried to master all kinds of tactics (both legal and through deception) but he did not have the right temperament to make a big success of it.
He had debts paid by wealthy ladies
Despite the fact that he often had (high) debts, he always managed to get out of them. With all his charm, he managed to win over another lady and then had her pay his debt so he could continue to gamble and live again. He gambled on the streets, in the inns and in the casinos whenever possible. He persuaded wealthy ladies to sell their jewelry to save his skin.
Setting up a lottery
Sometime around 1760, Casanova started a lottery in France with the support of Louis the 15th. The purpose was to be able to set up a military school but also to ensure that taxes did not have to be raised. Not surprisingly, both men were eager to make a profit.
The lottery was a great success and provided the necessary income. Not that it made much difference to his gambling activities because he continued to gamble regardless of whether he had the money or not.
Numerous films about the life of Casanova
Casanova’s story is, of course, widely known and has led to numerous film versions about his life and comings and goings. However, you will not find many films about his life as a gambler, as he is better known as a seducer and related to romantic stories. We have listed a number of films starring Casanova for you, in order of release year.
Films from the old box
To begin with, we mention Casanova from 1918. This silent film was made in Hungary. Bela Lugosi portrays Casanova as a horror icon in this motion picture. In 1927, The Loves of Casanova was released, also a silent film but this time also a French historical drama. The film provides an overview of the full life of Casanova.
The 1948 Italian film The Mysterious Rider again starred Casanova and marked Vittorio Gassman’s first major role as an adventurer.
Films from the 1960s
In The Last Rose from Casanova from 1966, Felix Le Breux plays the lead role. In it, Casanova is already in his old age and writing his memoirs but of course it also features a younger lady about whom he makes a bet. So it’s a combination of romance and gambling in one film. In 1969’s Giacomo Casanova: Childhood and Adolescence, Leonard Whiting plays the role of the decorator. The young Casanova is studying to become a priest but once he falls in love with a young lady he abandons his religious plans and chooses a life of fun.
English and American adaptations
The BBC also dedicated a series to the life of Casanova. In the 1971 series that bears the name of the main character, Frank Finlay plays the lead role. This role earned him a nomination for a Bafta in 1972. The famous Italian director Fellini also made a film about the life of Casanova. Released in 1976, this film also managed to win an Academy Award for best costumes.
Donald Sutherland plays the lead role and many scenes are directly based on Casanova’s own work. The French adapted Casanova’s life into the 1982 film That Night in Varenne. The film tells the story of an encounter Casanova has with a woman, in a carriage, completely by chance.
Alain Delon as the womanizer
Of course, the American film industry also contributed to the filming of Casanova’s life. Richard Chamberlain starred in 1987’s Casanova with Faye Dunaway as the co-star. Alain Delon plays Casanova in middle age in 1992’s The Return of Casanova. Casanova tries to return to his hometown of Venice in the film to live there again and only immediately seduces a much younger woman in this comedy.
Movies from this century about Casanova
In Casanova from 2005, Heath Ledger plays the role of Iothario and the film is slightly based on the life of Casanova. The romantic film has a good cast with equally well-known actors in supporting roles. In the same year, the BBC released another series (called Casanova) about an older Casanova. Peter o’Toole plays the older Casanova, while David Tennant takes care of the younger version.
In 2013, the film The Story of my Death saw the light of day, originally in France. This low-budget film shows the life of an aging Casanova in which he goes to Transylvania and meets Dracula. A year later, Casanova Variations was released, starring John Malkovich. Several opera singers also play in it, making it immediately clear what kind of film we are talking about. The last film we mention is Zoroastro, Io Casanova from 2016. In it, Italian translations of Casanova himself are used, set to music.
Special and not exactly boring life
Casanova’s life can certainly be called extraordinary. He was not only a great womanizer, but also an avid gambler. He managed to pursue more than one profession including spy, writer, lawyer, officer and even professional gambler. He himself wrote an extremely thick book about his own life in which women and gambling played an important role and which has certainly been worth many a film. By no means was the life of Casanova boring.