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209 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard
A film to measure others against. Burt Lancaster in his pomp as an ailing Italian aristocrat seeing the established order turning full circle around him, as Garibaldi's rebellion ushers in a new order. Beautifully shot, perfectly framed throughout - a deep, resonant and compelling story, with Director and cast at their peak. Richly layered, and full of universal themes...
Published on 4 Oct. 2004 by Mr. G. C. Stone

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Burt with any other name...
I showed this film when it was first released, so bought this dvd to relive memories I suppose. I found it rather drawn out originally, and still do, but the music is marvelous. The film is subtitled, which I don't object to, but what I wasn't keen on was the dubbing of Burt Lancaster's voice by a conspicuously unsuitable actor. Burt had a very expressive voice which...
Published on 31 Aug. 2011 by Allan Broadfield


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209 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gold Standard, 4 Oct. 2004
By 
Mr. G. C. Stone "mgcs" (Newcastle, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard [1963] [DVD] (DVD)
A film to measure others against. Burt Lancaster in his pomp as an ailing Italian aristocrat seeing the established order turning full circle around him, as Garibaldi's rebellion ushers in a new order. Beautifully shot, perfectly framed throughout - a deep, resonant and compelling story, with Director and cast at their peak. Richly layered, and full of universal themes of revolution, nobility, opportunism, generational change, youth and age, ideals bending against reality, loss and yearning, and one order giving way to another.
Impossible here to reveal all of the layers, as Burt Lancaster's central prince navigates himself and his family into their new place in the new order, and how his principles and ideals fade as his nephew and his beautiful young wife become the suceeding generation, and where to do right gives way to pragmatism in a new world built upon opportunism, greed and political corruption. "The world has to change in order to stay the same".
Artful without being 'arty', supremely beautiful and majestic without the squeaky-clean chocolate box sheen of modern historical drama. Highlights? - every single, super-crafted scene: the prince's family, covered in dust from their journey, sat in church like a line of statues; the eye contact between Claudia Cardinale and Burt Lancaster as she is embraced by her husband, his nephew...
The prince knows that his time has been and gone, and Lancaster plays this to perfection in yet another of his great performances.
An all time great piece of work deserving a place in any cine-lover's top few movies. And to top it all they have produced the DVD from the original print to preserve the work in pristine glory.
I have revisited The Leopard on this DVD and have been blown away by it once more - it pulls you in deeper each time you go back to it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My desert island film!!!, 3 Sept. 2012
Ever since its initial release, this film has lived in my memory. This is without doubt one of the greatest films of all time and is so truthful to the classic book. Everything is spot on: the acting, photography, music and, above all, the superb directing of Visconti - it is, in my opinion, his finest work on film, even surpassing Rocco. For me, it is like an opera without singing - so dramatic, so moving, so beautiful!

The DVD was great, but the Blu-Ray quite superb.

If I could only take one film to my desert island, it would be The Leopard!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous And Elegiac, 7 Nov. 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard [1963] [DVD] (DVD)
Luchino's Visconti's 1963 film The Leopard (based on Lampedusa's 1958 novel) is an epic tale of 19th century political and military unrest in Italy (Sicily to be precise), which is used as the setting to (more intimately) depict the impact of social change upon an aristocratic family, led by Don Fabrizio Corbera, the Prince of Salina (played by Burt Lancaster). Whilst the scale of Visconti's film is vast, leading to it being rightly praised for its visual richness, it also contains some brilliantly subtle touches, featuring moments of scathingly humorous and witty dialogue and showcasing a number of affecting acting turns. Stylistically, The Leopard is full of long, slow moving, camera shots - predominantly medium shots in order to take in the opulence of the film's interior settings - courtesy of cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, as well as featuring a lush and dramatic soundtrack written by Nino Rota. The Leopard also makes particularly fascinating viewing when compared with Visconti's preceding (full) feature, his masterpiece, Rocco And His Brothers - both films provide brilliant, but totally contrasting, dissections, set around 100 years apart, of (southern) Italian family and class structures.

Running to around three hours in duration, and being, in the main, relatively slow moving, The Leopard sets itself an ambitious goal to maintain audience attention. Whilst the 3rd quarter of the film does drag slightly, for me, the film achieves this goal for a number of reasons. The foremost two reasons are its almost unparalleled sensory (visual and aural) appeal and its by turns witty and profound script. In addition, The Leopard features a number of top acting performances, none more so than that of Burt Lancaster in the central role of the increasingly disillusioned and fallible Fabrizio, an aristocratic figurehead, in effect representing a section of Italian society whose future has been thrown into doubt with Garibaldi's recent military insurgency into Sicily. In addition, Alain Delon provides sterling support as Fabrizio's rebellious nephew Tancredi Falconeri (although his role here does not require such an emotively outstanding performance as he gave in Rocco And His Brothers). Tancredi falls for the daughter of a local mayor, Angelica Sedara, played with great coquettishness by Claudia Cardinale, and it is Tancredi and Angelica's burgeoning relationship which forms the core of The Leopard's narrative. Other notable acting turns include that by Romolo Valli, superb as Fabrizio's religious confidant, the taciturn Father Pirrone, and Paolo Stoppa as Angelica's father, the upwardly mobile Don Calogero Sedara.

The film to which (for me) The Leopard bears the most visual resemblance is Sergio Leone's magnificent Once Upon A Time In The West. Not only does The Leopard feature another magnificent cinematic colour palette, lush desert-like landscapes (Sicily, in this case) and (therefore) dust-laden costumes, but it also includes another superbly evocative 'unveiling' of a Claudia Cardinale character, as Angelica emerges through a doorway, goddess-like, to Nina Rota's sublime character theme. There are many other standout sequences in Visconti's film, most of them featuring Lancaster, with my favourite (and undoubtedly the key scene in the film) being that where Fabrizio turns down an offer from emissary Cavalier Chevally (played by British stage actor Leslie French) to become a Senator in the new Italian government in Turin (as Fabrizio considers that he lacks the required 'self-deception'), thereby embarking on a devastating monologue condemning a 'vain and wretched' Sicily, and ending with his parting comments to Chevally that, 'We, the leopards and lions, will be replaced by jackals and hyenas'. For me, Lancaster's performance here (a mix of defiance and wearied resignation) is second only in his career to his turn in Sweet Smell Of Success.

A true cinematic epic (but in a good way).

The BFI-release DVD also includes as extras an interesting film commentary from academics David Forgacs and Rossana Capitano, together with a (brief) interview with Claudia Cardinale.
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67 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars are not enough, 16 Jan. 2006
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This review is from: The Leopard [1963] [DVD] (DVD)
The Leopard is one of my top ten books of all time. Read and reread; I am incapable of describing the beauty of the language. I only realized recently that a film had been made of the book. I tried but I could not resist watching it. I have never known a film do a book justice the way this film has. The film has battle scenes that are only referred to in the book but that does not detract from the fact that the film has captured the haunting beauty of Scicily as described by Tomasi. It also describs, almost without words, the heavy sadness of the Prince who realizes his way of life is coming to an end.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charismatic movie, 8 Nov. 2004
By 
J. Scott-mandeville "jackie veronica" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Leopard [VHS] (VHS Tape)
When I first saw The Leopard I was struck by its sheer magnificence and scope. Orson Welles never got this good with The Magnificent Ambersons or Citizen Kane. Visconti's direction is perfect, the costumes and sets create an accurate and impressive picture of the complexities and stifling mores of a powerful and conventional 19th-century Sicilian family. Burt Lancaster gives a bravura performance as the Prince - everyone else revolves around his central character. He ages through the story which covers two generations and a key period in Italy's history. The old principalities giving way to a unified Italy and modernity are reflected in the changes within the Prince's family, the clashes between him and his sons, the battle between tradition and new ways. Il Risorgimento brings a decline in the power and influence of the old families and every nuance of the effect of this change on the Prince, his power and land, his family is brought out by Burt Lancaster's prowess in the role which is even more admirable as the film is Italian, with Italian dialogue. It shows just how great an actor he was. It is a marvellous story and film and at last, is available to buy on video.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars adept realpolitik, 1 Jan. 2013
By 
tallmanbaby (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Leopard [1963] [DVD] (DVD)
I came to this film with some trepidation, it is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece and the reviews here and elsewhere confirm that view. However it is nearly three hours long and boasts a 45 minute ballroom scene. Clearly not a film offering the pacey charms of Charlies Angels.

I settled down to watch it in the midst of a Christmas torpor, with nothing urgent on my mind. It is indeed sumptuous, with the Sicilian aristocracy leading a graceful and elegant life, but imprisoned in their role as a figurehead of tradition and the old ways. There is social unrest, but with some adept realpolitik they adapt and survive, as they have always done.

There is not much action, a messy battle which is much embroidered in subsequent tellings, the dialogue is sparse, despite the running length the plot is quite thin, the characters are for the most part merely sketched in.

The film clearly exists in uneasy parallel with the popular book that inspired it, it provides little context or background, throw away remarks signify epochal shifts.

Ultimately, for me, it is a melancholy song of a lost age, entirely embodied in a magnificent performance by Burt Lancaster, made all the more remarkable as his Italian speaking voice is rather lifelessly done by someone else. On first viewing the first hour or two are likely to drag, but their significance is made clear as the film wraps up, and subsequent viewings would be a richer a deeper experience.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visconti's masterpiece gets a superb DVD release - but go for the Criterion disc!, 8 Nov. 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
"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."

The Leopard may have bankrupted its producers and helped bring about a crisis for Italian cinema (sadly not dealt with in the generally impressive documentary on Criterion's three-disc NTSC DVD), but it's the kind of magnificent commercial failure that has managed to long outlive many a contemporary success. The lavish and hugely expensive adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's revered novel was never going to be an easy sell: an epic drama about the gradual decline of the aristocracy set against the mid-19th Century unification of Italy that was supposed to bring prosperity and progress to Sicily but only made things worse - all that is really happening is that the middle class will quietly take the place of the aristocracy - was never going to be an easy sell in Peoria. The politics of the Risorgimento can even confuse Italian and Sicilian audiences, and it has to be said that the film plays better if you've done a little homework on the period beforehand and can appreciate the constantly shifting political landscape (the Criterion DVD handily provides a brief historical primer). It should also be emphasised that this is a very Sicilian drama rather than an Italian one, with a bleak Sicilian outlook on events. As Burt Lancaster's Prince Salina explains, "Sleep... eternal sleep, that is what Sicilians want. And they will always resent anyone who tries to awaken them, even to bring them the most wonderful of gifts. And, between ourselves, I doubt very strongly whether this new Kingdom has very many gifts for us in its luggage. All Sicilian expression, even the most violent, is really a wish for death. Our sensuality, a wish for oblivion. Our knifings and shootings, a hankering after extinction. Our laziness, our spiced and drugged sherbets, a desire for voluptuous immobility, that is... for death again."

Yet rather than a purely political essay, the film assumes a more universal resonance through Burt Lancaster's increasingly weary Prince, a man in danger of outliving his time and facing the mortality of himself and all that his life has stood for, trying to manage events to secure some kind of legacy of continuity and stem the tide of social progress, reasoning that "If we want things to stay as they are, everything must change." The vehicle for his hopes and aspirations is not one of his own children but his nephew. Alain Delon's Tancredi at first appears as a (literal) mirror image of the Prince, but he's a more ruthless political animal than even he is aware of, able to adapt his passions to the changing political circumstances and rewrite his past until he has become the polar opposite of everything he once professed to stand for. While it is the Prince who consciously manipulates events, he remains a strangely sympathetic, even tragic figure: for him, it's to late to change. Instead, it's the charismatic Tancredi who becomes increasingly unlikeable as he throws away his early enthusiasm and promise in favor of the easier path of conformity. The film becomes an elegiac tragedy not just for a time and a class but for human nature itself: change for the better is impossible because these people will not let themselves change.

One of the very best discs Criterion ever produced, the transfer does full justice to Giuseppe Rotunno's cinematography, Mario Garbuglia's sumptuous production design and Nino Rota's magnificent score, far exceeding any of the European releases of the film, but it does lose points for not including any of the deleted scenes from the 205-minute version that originally opened before Visconti cut it to his preferred 185-minute version presented here. It's especially frustrating since the stills gallery includes a few images from deleted scenes without any explanation of where they originally fitted in the narrative, while there are brief glimpses of some in the Italian theatrical trailer also included. It seems an especially curious oversight since the set does include the shorter US version of The Leopard, which, notwithstanding its poor reputation, is far from negligible. Despite losing a further 24 minutes, it surprisingly isn't a bowdlerization and it's good to hear Burt Lancaster using his own voice, taking a softer voiced, more underplayed approach than the actor who dubbed him in the Italian version (something Sydney Pollack, who supervised the US dubbing, feels was a misjudgment on Lancaster's part). In many ways, the tightening of the film seems to actually make it more focussed on the turbulent politics that would fail Sicily but protect the immediate interests of the old order. The Italian version is still superior, of course, but it's not at all bad.

As well as boasting not only the best transfer I've ever seen of the film (especially compared to the Italian DVD) but possibly the best DVD transfer of any film I've seen to date, Criterion's 3-disc edition boasts an excellent extras package. Only the interview with producer Goffredo Lombardo is carried over from the Italian disc, with pride of place going to an excellent 61-minute documentary on the making of the film, a useful 13-minute primer on the historical background of the film, two Italian newsreels - including an incredibly bitchy and gossipy one from the Italian Nastri Awards - the original Italian trailer and the woefully misjudged US trailers selling it as another Longest Day or Cleopatra!

Although the film is also available on an extras-lite DVD from the BFI - which includes a fine transfer of the 185-minute version and an interview with Claudia Cardinale not included on the Criterion disc - it does not include the American version, documentary or other extras, making the Criterion NTSC disc the clear winner for those with multi-region players.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Leopard on Blu-Ray - Totally Gob-smacked!, 30 Sept. 2013
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I didn't know much about this movie and had my doubts about Burt Lancaster in the lead role as an Italian prince. The reviews by others about the cinematography and pristine restoration on Blu-Ray encouraged me to give it a try (helped also by Martin Scorcese's enthusiastic endorsement).

WOW!!!

This movie exceeded anything I could have expected. A moving human story set against a (presumably accurate) passage of Italian history; perfectly acted (including by the several non-Italian leads).

As a visual piece of sumptuous art, this rivals the Archers' The Red Shoes.

The wonderful musical score by Nina Rota (Godfather, Romeo and Juliet) rounds this off as one of the greatest motion pictures I've ever experienced.

Highly recommended for anyone with an appreciation for beauty in all its forms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leopard DVD, 1 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: The Leopard [1963] [DVD] (DVD)
A cracking story set near sicilia during the time of the risorgemento. Showing the decline of the upper classes and some of the birth of the new italy. This is a classic with atmosphere and the kind of film you will watch from start to finish without getting of the sofa ! All the main characters give a stirling performance and this film is a MUST for all lovers of italian cinema !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 17 Sept. 2013
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Forty years ago, when I was a teenager, I remember walking out of the cinema during The Leopard. This was an immature response and I wasn't prepared for its three hour length (apparently Visconti supervised its reduction from a 205 minute version). If viewers can adjust to its slow, stately pace, they will appreciate its brilliant sense of place and period and the film will not pall. It manages to bring together the broad sweep of Italian 19th century national unification, the local effect on the remote province of Sicily, and the impacts on the personal world of an aristocrat who is blessed (or cursed) with a profound awareness of the waning of the social setting on which his power and privilege is based. The characters, and the Prince of Salina in particular, are presented sympathetically. His hobby of astronomy epitomises his distance and objective contemplation of events. His analysis of his situation is fatalistic. "This violence of landscape, this cruelty of climate, this continual tension in everything, and even these monuments to the past, magnificent yet incomprehensible because not built by us... All these things have formed our character, which is thus conditioned by events outside our control as well as by a terrifying insularity of mind."

There are some celebrated 'big' sequences (street fighting, the lengthy ball scene, the church service with the Prince and his party sitting in the pews covered in travel dust). There are also many excellent 'small' scenes between, for example, the Prince and his servants or his resident priest, which are wry and wonderfully revealing of the prevailing quasi-feudal social relations. The only slightly off note (pun intended) is the musical score which is intrusive and over-wrought.

The quality of the restoration of the blu ray is excellent, doing justice to both the rugged landscape and the lush interiors. A film that fully deserves its classic reputation.
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The Leopard [1963] [DVD]
The Leopard [1963] [DVD] by Luchino Visconti (DVD - 2004)
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