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
According to The Guardian this movie is the best screen adaptation ever. See more »
There is much kissing of hands during the movie. According to the book "Histoire de la politesse de 1789 à nos jours (History of good manners from 1789 till today)" by F. Rouvillois, the kissing of hands only appeared at the turn of the 20th century when the story in the movie was supposed to take place in 1860-1862, more than 40 years before. See more »
Prince Don Fabrizio Salina:
I often think about death. The idea doesn't frighten me. You young people can't understand. To you, death doesn't exist. It's something that happens to others.
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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 »
Following his personal motto, "something has to change in order to keep everything in place," authoritative prince Fabrizio di Salina (Burt Lancaster) secures his position, and that of his social class, by resigning himself to the "Risorgimento" and making a pact with the representatives of the bourgeoisie. He marries his nephew, Tancredi Falconeri (Alain Delon) to the daughter of a nouveau riche mayor (Claudia Cardinale), who should infuse fresh blood into an old bloodline threatened with extinction: the alliance between "the Leopard" and "the Jackal" exemplifies the blend between old and new. The collector's box of this film includes an interview with Alain Delon who, in retrospect, claims that Visconti had almost played the role of prince Salina himself, given the analogies between the two characters. Like Salina, Visconti preoccupied himself with questions of disappearing social class and transience. Beyond the splendour and revelry in his films always lies a dark horizon, the imminence of death, whose premonitory signs are perceived everywhere. The closing marriage scene is a lamenting farewell to vanishing beauty. Awesome Burt Lancaster in tuxedo looks into the mirror and tears well up in his eyes. Outside, a coffin is brought out. Majestic grandeur and striking dignity intertwine with elegiac melancholy, grief and regret. The perfect illustration of Friedrich Schiller's definition of tragedy: "Tragedy is not synonymous with suffering. Rather, tragedy is the futile protest of the individual against inevitable suffering". Delon claims that today he finds himself unable to watch the film, which evokes memories and images from a world long since forgotten, let alone listen to the soundtrack, "qui me fait pleurer"...
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