In the 1860s, a dying aristocracy struggles to maintain itself against a harsh Sicilian landscape. The film traces with a slow and deliberate rhythm the waning of the noble home of Fabrizio Corbero, Prince of Salina (the Leopard) and the corresponding rise to eminence of the enormously wealthy ex-peasant Don Calogero Sedara. The prince himself refuses to take active steps to halt the decline of his personal fortunes or to help build a new Sicily but his nephew Tancredi, Prince of Falconeri swims with the tide and assures his own position by marrying Don Calogero's beautiful daughter Angelica. The climatic scene is the sumptuous forty-minute ball, where Tancredi introduces Angelica to society.Written by
The failure of the American version was not helped when Fox complicated matters by not releasing it in Technicolor like the Italian version, but in the inferior, but cheaper, DeLuxe color process. See more »
There is much kissing of hands during the movie. According to the book "Histoire de la politesse de 1789 à nos jours (History of good manners from 1789 till today)" by F. Rouvillois, the kissing of hands only appeared at the turn of the 20th century when the story in the movie was supposed to take place in 1860-1862, more than 40 years before. See more »
The longest cut of "The Leopard" runs 205 minutes. This version (which has achieved almost legendary status) is (reputedly) available on video in Italy, and was shown theatrically (at least in Toronto, Canada), in the 1970's. For many years, only the 165-minute, English-dubbed version was available in North America. The 187-minute Criterion DVD release is currently the longest available version, and is, in fact the same version as the Italian DVD release at 180 minutes (the 7-minute time difference is due only to the PAL transfer rate differential). See more »
Could it be that Visconti's 1963 epic--long lying in ruins until its 1983 partial restoration--is the greatest movie ever made? The real subject of this movie, surely the wisest and most beautiful of all "period pictures," is the twentieth century--what has been gained and above all what is lost. Only a Marxist duke like Visconti could have had the split sensibility, and the anecdotal knowhow, to render Sicily just before its entry to modernity with the splendor and the caginess that radiates through every frame of this masterpiece. As the prince making final compromises before leaving the faded world he has inherited, Burt Lancaster gives one of the greatest performances in movies. Possessed of both an elegiac melancholy and a shrewd, dry-eyed appraisal of the failures and the glorious extroversion of its aristocratic world, THE LEOPARD is like a dream you can't bear to let go of. Contemporary viewers will see echoes of THE DEER HUNTER, 1900 and THE AGE OF INNOCENCE--and will see those films shrivel to the size of cocktail franks.
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