1963, 20th Century Fox. Directed by Luchino Visconti. Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon, Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli, Romolo Valli.
Decent Films Ratings
Content advisory: Mature themes including unchastity and romantic complications; a scene of urban revolutionary violence. Subtitles.
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The Leopard (DVD)
A National Catholic Register "Video/DVD Picks" film.
By Steven D. Greydanus
Based on the acclaimed Italian novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece The Leopard is a lavish epic elegy of the decline of the Italian aristocracy in the final stages of the nineteenth-century Italian unification during Garibaldi’s Sicilian campaign.
For Yank audiences who may be unfamiliar with the historical
context, Jeff Shannon of Amazon.com calls the film "an Italian
equivalent to Gone With the Wind," a rough-and-ready
in-a-nutshell classification that is not without merit. Both
films are elegiac wartime epics lamenting the passing of an
elegant and aristocratic way of life; both are based on popular
novels; both deal with elevated soap-opera-like
Also, with both films there was scandal over the unconventional casting of the leading man, who was reluctant to accept the iconic role. In The Leopard, this was Burt Lancaster as the aging Sicilian prince Don Fabrizio. Visconti was obligated to cast a Hollywood star in order to secure needed financial backing, but Lancaster came through majestically, bringing formidable presence and melancholy to the role of a still-virile great man who sees the writing on the wall.
The film’s spectacular final act, a nearly hour-long ballroom extravaganza, ranks among the grandest cinematic set pieces of all time.