- Actors: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli
- Directors: Luchino Visconti
- Format: PAL, Colour, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled
- Language: Italian
- Subtitles: English
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.20:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Bfi
- DVD Release Date: 27 Sept. 2004
- Run Time: 178 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 131 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0002PC2W2
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,916 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
The Leopard 
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A film by Luchino Visconti
Against a dramatic nineteenth-century backdrop of radical Italian Nationalism Luchino Visconti masterful epic, The Leopard, follows the Sicilian Prince of Salina and his family as they adjust to the social turbulence of revolutionary times. Adapted from Tomasi di Lampedusa s esteemed novel of the same name, this is a tragicomic depiction of a class eclipsed by history.
Luchiono Visconti's masterpiece The Leopard, is now available on DVD for the first time. Featuring the complete uncut version of the film, with fully restored picture and sound, this stunning high definition digital transfer from the film s original 70mm negative materials overseen by the film s director of photography Guisppe Rotunno, is presented here in it s original widescreen aspect ratio.
Starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, this gorgeous evocation of an era beautifully photographed, designed and costumed, with a rousing score by Nini Rota glitters with superb set pieces, culminating in the climatic 45-minute ballroom section where we can and fell a society in transition.
- Full feature commentary by David Forgacs and Rossana Capitano
- Interview with Claudia Cardinale
- Director biography
Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, 1963
Italy, France | 1963 | colour | Italian language with English subtitles, | English hard-of-hearing subtitles | 178 minutes | Ratio 2.21:1 (16x9 anamorphic)| Region 2 DVD
'A masterpiece - beautiful, intelligent, deeply moving.' --Philip French, The Observer
'One of the films I live by.' --Martin Scorsese
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This is a review of the Criterion Collection three-disc DVD set of one of the hundred best films ever made. The size and scope of the Criterion Collection’s package is greater than the later set issued by the BFI.
Disc one features the 185-minute film version. (The original film was 205 minutes in length but was reduced by the producer partly due to the objections of the Catholic Church.) It comes with a commentary by Peter Cowie who expands on the film-making, the historical context of the story, and the links to the novel, reading out many extracts at appropriate moments. Cowie also informs us that Visconti originally wanted either Marlon Brando or Laurence Olivier to play the title role.
It is interesting to compare the natural, painterly scenes of ‘The Leopard’ with the pretentious works of other Italian directors of this era, but then Visconti was an aristocrat with nothing to prove in the 1960s. You can pause the movie at any point to witness his skill at framing and colouring, whether it is an interior or exterior shot.
I’ll come to disc two in a minute, but first disc three features the English-language version. There is a background hiss (but it is not overtly disagreeable) and the colours are not as sharp. (It is a new transfer but not a digital one.) And of course it is twenty-five minutes shorter than the Italian version – thus, for instance, when Lancaster goes to visit the prostitute there is no conversation with the priest, rather the door is merely closed; and there is no explanation given for the journey to Donnafugata; nor the priest’s monologue in the inn.
From watching the English-language version, it is clear that most actors spoke their lines in English. One benefit of the English version is that the screen is slightly wider (from 2.21:1 to 2.35:1): witness the seating of the priest on the left side when Burt Lancaster kisses Paolo Stoppa to seal the marriage bargain between Tancredi and Angelica.
Finally, then, disc two. This features a sixty-minute ‘Making of’ documentary that was made in 2004, with chapters on the novel, the screenplay, the casting, pre-production, the shooting, and the dubbing. Contributors include Claudia Cardinale, Sydney Pollack, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi di Lampedusa, Suso Cecchi d’Amico, and Piero Tosi.
Claudia Cardinale says she spoke her lines in English with Burt Lancaster, in French with Alain Delon, and in Italian with the rest. But this is contradicted if you watch the lips, and Brad Stevens (in ‘Sight & Sound’) insists that all the principle actors spoke English. Stevens therefore claims that the English-language version has a claim to authenticity. Sydney Pollack oversaw the English version and says that all the voices were redubbed for it, and apart from those of Burt Lancaster and Leslie French, the voices used were by different actors than those seen on screen. (Pollack humbly takes the blame for the film’s failure in the States.)
Other extras on disc two include a twenty-minute interview in 2003 with the producer, who talked of the possibility of a sequel. Then Professor Millicent Marcus takes fifteen minutes to talk about the history of the Risorgimento and how the history of Italy is reflected in the film. Stills, film of the Rome premiere, and trailers complete the disc. All in all, then, this is a generous package.
Maybe the most famous yet not the most beautiful of his Visconti's masterpieces. Yet still one of them. The Leopard is based on a great book that in Italy is still considered not only a fundamental text to understand what went wrong with Italian war of Indipendence, but also to understand how the traditional power and the power of the tradition can survive to change just exploiting it, in order to stay on top of the situation.
Maybe you could apply this idea on what happened in the States (and not only there) after the 60ies revolution, and find an explanation on how nothing really changed.
Visconti is an enlightened aristocratic intellectual, who looks down at his people, his country and his class misery, with a sense of decadence that is that of his class going down but also that of the new Nation losing immediately any fresh energy brought by the war for justice and independence: because, after all the bloodshed, nothing will really change.
He manages to balance personal and intimate stories with History and Destiny inevitably unfolding and stepping over family relationship and private feelings. But he does not succeed in it in the same amazing way he did with his absolute masterpiece "Senso".
Still this is a great film and one of those blockbuster that Italian were able to make without lowering too much the artistic side and the political views behind them (see also 1900 or Once upon a time in the West).
THE BLU RAY AND OTHER EDITIONS
The blu ray is really good, although now there is a new italian edition directly transfered in 4k from the newly restored film, so maybe that should be even better than this one.
And it also includes a very nice documentary about the producer behind the film (and many others), directed by Oscar winning Giuseppe Tornatore (New Cinema Paradiso)
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