The Leopard (The Criterion Collection)
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Making its long-awaited U.S. home video debut, Luchino Visconti's The Leopard is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d'Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, The Leopard translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the film in two distinct versions: Visconti's original 187-minute Italian version, and the alternate 161-minute English-language version released in America, in a newly restored, three-disc special edition that also features a new hour-long documentary on the making of the film, and more.
With this magnificent Criterion DVD release, Luchino Visconti's 1963 historical drama The Leopard will finally earn widespread recognition as one of the most beautiful epics ever produced. In adapting the popular novel by Giuseppe Tomassi di Lampedusa (an Italian equivalent to Gone with the Wind, set during the tumultuous Garibaldi revolution of 1860-62), Visconti was initially reluctant to cast Burt Lancaster as the melancholy Prince of Salina--the aging aristocrat "leopard" of the title--who accepts change as inevitable during the struggle for a unified Italy. But Lancaster (even with his voice dubbed in the fully restored Italian release) delivered one of his finest performances, modeled after Visconti himself, and reacting to political and familial upheavals with the wisdom and whimsy of a man who knows that his way of life--and all he holds dear--must change with the times. You won't find a more intimate epic, and Giusseppe Rotunno's masterful cinematography represents the pinnacle of painterly beauty, matched only by the authentic splendor of the film's impeccable production design. The climactic hourlong ballroom scene--which even the hard-to-please Pauline Kael called "one of the greatest of all passages in movies"--is utterly breathtaking. Anchored by Lancaster's performance and the romantic pairing of Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, The Leopard is sheer perfection, fully restored to its 185-minute glory. --Jeff Shannon
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- Product Dimensions : 0.54 x 0.75 x 0.07 inches; 8.8 Ounces
- Media Format : Box set, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Special Edition
- Run time : 3 hours and 6 minutes
- Release date : June 8, 2004
- Actors : Luchino Visconti, Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1)
- Studio : Criterion
- ASIN : B00003CWQL
- Number of discs : 3
- Best Sellers Rank: #119,230 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story was centered to the Prince of Salina and through out the film I felt how graceful and dedicated to his country he is.
There are a lot of unforgettable moments in this movie.
The scenes that I do remember right now is the ballroom scene. When Prince's nephew brought his fiance and the fiance asks the price to have the pleasure having a dance with him. The dance was a beautiful moment. Graceful, beauty it was. It is not a surprise that all the people there couldn't even clap their hands. They were just astonished by the prince.
Right after the scene the prince goes out and he walks a little, then he bands his knees as if to pray to god, or as if him talking to the stars. Thas is a beautiful conversation. He was a graceful man. A true prince, a novel deed.
The movie is 185 minutes of you are watching the uncut version. But it was never too heavy or too long.
Each scenes are beautiful and nicely shot. There are not much camera movement or technique or anything but the mis-en-scene itself was just perfect itself. No one can touch at all.
There are a lot of great movies out there but this movie is, I think, the only one that is fulfilled by one actor only. There are of course other actors involeved like the nephew and the nephew's fiance and others but it is the Prince and the Price only who was the true one that was the beauty in this film who shined like a diamond. So shined that made my eyes blind.
I have to watch this film at least 10 times to really make it mine so I won't write much this time.
But it is definately worth watching the unrated director's cut which is 185 minutes.
Can you believe that Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale (Once upon a time in the west) were all in this movie as a supporting roll?
Burt Lancaster plays his part so well that you accept him as the prince, the patriarch of an old Sicilian family whose history goes back in time. The other characters revolve around this one dynamic man, each one playing a part in the unfolding of Italy's destiny. The sets and costuming are excellent and you feel as if you are witnessing a real time period from afar.
I love the Criterion version because it offers both versions of "The Leopard", the Italian and the American.
films. What is really impressive, though, is Criterion's packaging. Because
the film exists in two different versions: one is the complete original
release, dubbed as always in Italian cinema by voice ghosts. The other is
the American release, which is the only way to hear Burt Lancaster himself,
though the other actors are, again, dubbed by others. Also, the American
release is cut.
Rather than choose between them, Criterion gives you both in this three-disc
box, along with very interesting background docs on the making of the film
and even on the historical background that informs the narrative, familiar
to Italians but not to Americans.
As for the film itself, it is long and cerebral, though it does have action scenes
and the famous forty-minute (or however long it is) ball sequence. I feel sorry
for that poor band of orchestra players, working nonstop from evening to dawn, because
there are still some couples waltzing away after the sun has come up.
As for the film itself, be forewarned that not a lot happens. I would advise brushing up a bit on Italian 19th century history first, if not reading the novel. The plot, such as it is, has been summarized by others so I'll pass over that. In any case this a film you watch for atmosphere and details. The best films are generally those that remain faithful to their source material. This film, like Gone With the Wind, does not disappoint in that respect. It is largely faithful to Lampedusa's Il Gattopardo, except for two short chapters at the end of the book that deal with the death of the prince and the fate of his offspring, and a battle scene that did not appear in the book. Curiously it is a somewhat long film based upon a relatively short novel. At first you may giggle at the Italian coming from Burt Lancaster's character (and you should view the Italian version with subtitles, which is far superior to the dubbed American version), but you quickly get used to it due to his powerful performance. Despite being made by a professed Marxist (although an aristocrat), this film is a relative rarity in portraying conservatives in a favorable light. This is the kind of film that you will want to watch more than once, which makes it a worthwhile purchase. I recommend it.
Top reviews from other countries
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)