The Leopard (1963)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Il Gattopardo

Italy/France, 1963, , .  Screenplay and adaptation by , , , , Luchino Visconti, based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Think of it as the Italian Gone With The Wind. Luchino Visconti’s splashy epic is a feast for the senses, both an enjoyable costume drama as well as a thought-provoking work of political art. In an audacious casting move, plays a prince who is the head of a Sicilian family in the late 19th century. With Garibaldi’s revolution on the move to unify all of Italy, the national aristocracy is getting nervous about the change and the country’s most important families fear for their own lives (or at least the ease with which they live them). Lancaster, on the other hand, has mixed feelings about the entire thing and sees the change as a necessary and unavoidable one. Also in the mix are his nephew ( at his most dashing) who loves the daughter () of a rather vulgar landowner and whose experiences represent the change that the country is going through. Some of its talkier scenes run on a bit too long, but it is a sumptuous drama with plenty to learn about and admire. Try and see the 187 minute version with the original Italian dialogue, it’s far more satisfying than the 160 minute English dubbed version (with Lancaster doing his own dialogue).

The Criterion Collection:  #235

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Costume Design-Colour

Cannes Film Festival Award:  Palme D’Or

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