The Leopard is an Italian period film directed by Luchino Visconti, and released in 1963. It centers around the Salinas, a family of aristocrats in southern Italy, during the Risorgimento (a civil movement that united the parts of Italy) in the mid-19th century. The Prince of Salina, cast as Burt Lancaster, struggles with the fading power of his class and disapproves highly of the changes occurring in his society. Much of the film focuses on the Prince's internal struggle, as he labors to come to grips with the radical changes in his ancient world. The secondary characters include the coupling of the Prince's nephew, the dashing Tancredi, and the daughter of the mayor of Donnafugata (the location of the Prince's summer resort), the beautiful Angelica. Their relationship is often explored in the film - its effects on the rest of the family and the Prince in particular.
The Leopard is an opulent masterpiece - it paints a rich, vibrant portrait of aristocratic life in Italy during the period, and is in equal parts a historical film, a political film, and a drama. The casting is excellent - Burt Lancaster is outstanding as Prince Fabrizio; Alain Delon as Tancredi and Claudia Cardinale as Angelica stand out as well. All the minor characters are portrayed well by their actors.
Each scene is packed with detail - The Leopard was a costly film, and it shows. Everything looks genuinely authentic - the furnishings, the food, the decorations are all marvelous. The Leopard is perhaps one of the most visually rich films I have ever seen. Eye candy at it's finest.
In terms of the release itself, Criterion has done a bang-up job as usual. The disks are housed in a beautifully illustrated digipack, with full-color stills from the movie. Also included is a 17-page booklet, containing liner notes and a short essay. The first disk contains the movie itself, in glorious HD. Although Criterion did not use the new restoration by Fox, this release still has outstanding picture quality. The audio track is Italian, an uncompressed 1.0 LPCM. No problems with the audio either. Also included on the first disk is a commentary by Peter Cowie, which plays along with the film. Very informative, and recommended listening. The second disk contains the English edition, which is for all intents and purposes completely inferior to the original Italian edition. It is nice to have it included, though, for completion purposes. Other special features include a 1hr. Making Of documentary, featuring interviews of the surviving cast and crew; two interviews featuring the film's producer and a scholar of Italian history; trailers and newsreels; and several picture galleries.
One of Criterion's best releases on Blu-Ray, and highly recommended for all film lovers.Read more ›
Adapted from a novella by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard paints a vivid picture of the Italian aristocracy falling from grace and the middle class revolting to form a more democratic Italy on an epic canvas. Caught up in this class revolution is an affluent family led by the Prince of Salina, Don Fabrizio Corbera (Burt Lancaster). He recognizes that he is part of an obsolete generation and that his young nephew, Tancredi Falconeri (Alain Delon), and his beautiful fiancée, Angelica Sedara (Claudia Cardinale), represent the new order. The first DVD features an audio commentary by film scholar Peter Cowie. He provides the backstory to Visconti's career leading up to The Leopard. Cowie talks at length about the film in relation to its source material. This is a strong, informative track that is an excellent introduction to the cinema of Visconti. The second DVD starts off with a fantastic, hour-long documentary, entitled "A Dying Breed: The Making of the Leopard," that was created especially for the DVD. There are interviews with most of the surviving cast and crew, including Claudia Cardinale and the film's screenwriters. This is an excellent look at The Leopard from the origins of the novel to the film's botched U.S. version that truncated Visconti's vision and was re-dubbed with English-speaking actors. There is also a "Goffredo Lombardo Interview" with the producer of The Leopard. "The History of Risorgimento" examines the real historical figures and the times they lived in with the professor of Italian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Millicent Marcus. This is a really good primer for anyone who is unfamiliar with this particular period of Italian history. Finally, there is a "Promotional Materials" section with an extensive stills gallery, a vintage Italian newsreel of the film's premiere and its success at that year's Cannes Film Festival, and three trailers-one Italian and two American. The third and final DVD features a remastered copy of the truncated U.S. version that was dubbed in English and included Lancaster's actual voice. Criterion has pulled off quite a coup with this DVD set. This is the first time that The Leopard has ever appeared on DVD. Criterion has painstakingly restored the film to its original glory, with a flawless transfer and included both the Italian and U.S. versions. It is a fitting package for this cinematic masterpiece.Read more ›
First of all we must separate Visconti's Il Gattopardo, all the 225 minutes of it, from the mess recut, recolored, re-dubbed by 20th Century Fox and distributed as a sort of Burt Lancaster vehicle. I speak of the original. Under Count Lucchino Visconti di Modrone's direction and with the aid of 263 technicians, 4300 candles, 500 pairs of white gloves, 5113 costumes, real food, wine, 6 tailors with 56 seamsters, a laundry service, 4 bootmakers and 644 meters of track on which three cameras rolled, Burt Lancaster, Rina Morelli, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale and other magnificent actors transport us to a time of revolutonary change, destruction and renewal in Sicily, 1860. Neither opulence nor poverty become so obtrusive that we forget what is going on with the Prince of Salina. The sets are magnificent: the villa at San Lorenzo is in real life Villa Boscogrande and the palazzo of the Princes Ponteleone where the great 44 1/2 minute ballroom scene takes place is none other than Palazzo Gangi in Palermo. Amid all this splendor Prince Salina, the Leopard, senses the end of his world, of his own class. Actually he contributes to it by encouraging his penniless but charming nephew Tancredi (Delon) to marry the vulgar but extremely rich and beautiful Angelica, daughter of Calogero Sedara, one of the "up and coming" men of the post revolutionary world, a resident of the Prince's fief of Donnafugatta. The Prince tries to make sense of this new world but the events leave a bitter taste in his mouth. He even repeats Tancredi's maxim, " things have got to change if we want them to stay as they are," but he does so without much conviction and he thinks of the family tomb at the Capuchins when the rest of Parlemitan society dances the evening away through the magnificent Baroque and Rococco rooms of the great Palazzzo Gangi. It took 48 nights to film the ball scene and the results are apparent. It and the rest of the film are sheer perfection. I hope the new version being released is based as much as possible on the original Visconti cut. Anything else is clearly not good enough.Read more ›