In the 1860s, an aristocratic Sicilian family tries to adjust to the social changes affecting their way of life. To maintain their status among a changing landscape, the Prince of Salina (Burt Lancaster) allows his nephew (Alain Delon) to marry the daughter of a wealthy, middle-class family (Claudia Cardinale).
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 is the last Italian film I’m watching as a part of my 2015 Blind Spots series (following my other two Italian entries Cinema Paradiso and Nights of Cabiria), and I decided it was a good time to watch this month before vacationing in Italy (which is where I’m at now!). While the other two films take place within the time they were filmed, this film really transports the audience to a decadent era that’s now long gone. The Leopard is comparable to epic classics like Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago as it’s over three hours long. With that length, the film really takes its time to go into the story and the characters, and therefore the pace can be very slow at times. Despite that, I was still in awe of the film’s composition; my favorite aspect was definitely seeing all the gorgeous costumes against 19th century Italy.
There are a few different versions of this film, and I saw the Italian version that included dubbing over the main actors. Though the dubbing was distracting in some areas, the performances really came through, especially Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. I am curious to see the English version with Lancaster’s voice being heard, but for anyone who hasn’t seen it the Italian version is probably the best place to start as I can imagine hearing English speakers in an old Italian story can be odd.
The Leopard (1963)
Directed by: Luchino Visconti
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, Serge Reggiani, Mario Girotti, Pierre Clementi
Oscar Nominations: Best Costume Design, Color