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The Leopard (Critertion Collection) (1963)

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, more...
Director: Luchino Visconti, Luchino Visconti
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Foreign, Italy, Criterion Collection
Languages: English, Italian
Subtitles: English
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Arguably Luchino Visconti's best film and certainly the most personal of his historical epics, The Leopard chronicles the fortunes of Prince Fabrizio Salina and his family during the unification of Italy in the 1860s. Based on the acclaimed novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, published posthumously in 1958 and subsequently translated into all European languages, the picture opens as Salina (Burt Lancaster) learns that Garibaldi's troops have embarked in Sicily. While the Prince sees the event as an obvious threat to his current social status, his opportunistic nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) becomes an officer in Garibaldi's army and returns home a war hero. Tancredi starts courting the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), a daughter of the town's newly appointed Mayor, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa). Though the Prince despises Don Calogero as an upstart who made a fortune on land speculation during the recent social upheaval, he reluctantly agrees to his nephew's marriage, understanding how much this alliance would mean for the impecunious Tancredi. Painfully realizing the aristocracy's obsolescence in the wake of the new class of bourgeoisie, the Prince later declines an offer from a governmental emissary to become a senator in the new Parliament in Turin. The closing section, an almost hour-long ball, is often cited as one of the most spectacular sequences in film history. Burt Lancaster is magnificent in the first of his patriarchal roles, and the rest of the cast, especially Delon and Cardinale, become almost perfect incarnations of the novel's characters. Filmed in glorious Techniscope and rich in period detail, the film is a remarkable cinematic achievement in all departments. The version that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival ran 205 minutes. Inexplicably, the picture was subsequently distributed by 20th Century Fox in a poorly dubbed, 165-min. English-language version, using inferior color process. The restored Italian-language version, supervised by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, appeared in 1990, though the longest print still ran only 187 minutes. ~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • New high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Giuseppe Rotunno, with restored image and sound and presented in the original Super Technirama aspect ratio of 2.21:1
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Leopard (Criterion Collection) (1963)
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7.30 (132 votes)
The Leopard (Criterion Collection) (Bonus Disc: A Dying Breed) (1963)
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7.62 (26 votes)
The Leopard (The American Version) (Criterion Collection) (1963)
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7.11 (28 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Great commentary by shranz October 13, 2004 - 4:10 PM PDT
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
If you haven't read the novel and don't know much about 19thc Italian history I highly recommend watching the commentary.It was rich in interesting details regarding cinematic technique, the actors, composers, etc. It added immensely to my enjoyment of the film.

8 out of 10 members found this review helpful
THE LEOPARD is a great film in every way--not least in that it does justice (in necessarily limited fashion) to the masterpiece novel on which it is based. When I first saw it (in the hugely truncated form that 20th Century Fox released in America in the mid-60s), I hated it. So much for youth--and dreadful cutting. Seeing it again in its full, three-hour-plus version on screen decades later, I could hardly believe the difference. In addition to its enormous beauty, it's such a wise film: full of rich ideas about class, economics, politics and the need for both change and stability. Simply viewed as recorded history about the way the rich and powerful lived, we shall not see its like again. Now on dvd, in a gorgeous transfer that, although a bit grainy at times, captures the magisterial beauty of Sicily as it's never been seen before or since, this film should finally reach the wide audience it deserves.

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