"The Leopard" (1963), based on the novel of the same name written by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, is the best film I have seen this year. Directed by Luchino Visconti, this splendid Italian movie takes the spectator straight into late 19th century Italy, a time of social and political change, something "The Leopard" shows clearly and in a masterful way.
One of the main characters is Prince Don Fabrizio of Salina (Burt Lancaster), who realizes that he must do something, if he wants the House of Salina to remain powerful in a new world that is going to be dominated by the middle class, not the aristocracy. The answer comes to him in the form of his nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon), an ally of the new forces that says that "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change".
Prince Salina is bitter regarding the need for compromise ("We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals and sheep, and the whole lot of us - leopards, lions, jackals and sheep - will continue to think ourselves the salt of the earth"), but he recognizes the wisdom of the path Tancredi suggests, and supports him. What is more, Prince Salina also gives his blessing to Tancredi's decision to marry Angelica (Claudia Cardinali), an extremely beautiful and well-connected woman from the middle class. Of course, that doesn't sit well with Concetta (Lucilla Morlacchi), Tancredi's counsin, who has fallen thoroughly in love with him.
I would like to point out that there is a lot more to "The Leopard" than the plot I just outlined, for example the beautiful Sicilian scenery, the wonderful music, and the political connotations of several scenes. From my point of view, this is the kind of film you can enjoy, but also learn from. On the whole, highly recommended!