In the 1860s, a dying aristocracy struggles to maintain itself against a harsh Sicilian landscape. The film traces with a slow and deliberate rhythm the waning of the noble home of Fabrizio Corbero, Prince of Salina (the Leopard) and the corresponding rise to eminence of the enormously wealthy ex-peasant Don Calogero Sedara. The prince himself refuses to take active steps to halt the decline of his personal fortunes or to help build a new Sicily but his nephew Tancredi, Prince of Falconeri swims with the tide and assures his own position by marrying Don Calogero's beautiful daughter Angelica. The climatic scene is the sumptuous forty-minute ball, where Tancredi introduces Angelica to society.Written by
Director Luchino Visconti was disappointed that the producers of the film insisted on casting Burt Lancaster in the lead role, because he felt he was not right for the part. This caused tension between the two during the first few weeks of filming. Visconti's harsh treatment toward Lancaster eventually led to the actor publicly confronting him on the set. Visconti was so impressed with the passion and sincerity that Lancaster displayed during his tirade that the two developed a close and amicable relationship for the rest of the filming process. See more »
During one of the long shots of the journey to Donnafugata, a blur crosses the screen near the center, apparently caused by a fly crawling over the lens. See more »
Princess Maria Stella Salina:
I never could endure that fop! You lost your head over him! And he has the impertinence to ask you, his uncle, father of the girl he has deceived, to carry his proposal to that rascal, the father of that slut! You mustn't do it!
Prince Don Fabrizio Salina:
Enough! You don't know what you're saying. Angelica is not a slut. She may become one, but for now she's a girl like any other, prettier than others, who wants to make a good marriage.
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The original Italian theatrical cut of "The Leopard" ("Il Gattopardo") reportedly ran 205 minutes. General consensus that the running time was excessive led Visconti to edit the film shortly after its premiere. The version that won the Palme d'Or at Cannes reportedly ran 195 minutes (based on an Italian newspaper account of the day). Visconti's preferred cut ran 187 minutes. It is this version that is now available on DVD from the Criterion Collection. An English-dubbed version, re-cut by 20th Century Fox for U.S. and U.K. release, runs approximately 161 minutes, and is also included in the Criterion set. See more »
Could it be that Visconti's 1963 epic--long lying in ruins until its 1983 partial restoration--is the greatest movie ever made? The real subject of this movie, surely the wisest and most beautiful of all "period pictures," is the twentieth century--what has been gained and above all what is lost. Only a Marxist duke like Visconti could have had the split sensibility, and the anecdotal knowhow, to render Sicily just before its entry to modernity with the splendor and the caginess that radiates through every frame of this masterpiece. As the prince making final compromises before leaving the faded world he has inherited, Burt Lancaster gives one of the greatest performances in movies. Possessed of both an elegiac melancholy and a shrewd, dry-eyed appraisal of the failures and the glorious extroversion of its aristocratic world, THE LEOPARD is like a dream you can't bear to let go of. Contemporary viewers will see echoes of THE DEER HUNTER, 1900 and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE--and will see those films shrivel to the size of cocktail franks.
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