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.
I was rounding off a two year study in France in 1963 and I remember gazing at the marquee of a cinema in Paris shortly after the Cannes Festival, seeing “Le Guepard” advertised, beautiful Claudia Cardinale waltzing with handsome, courtly, Burt Lancaster. At the time, I made a mental note to see the movie but in fact, saw it for the first time many years later, on a black and white TV no less! Chopped up and edited as it was, in black and white, the film moved me immensely. I was absolutely thunderstruck by the dialogue which, when I read the Prince of Lampedusa’s novel shortly after, I realized had been “lifted” verbatim from the novel in large chunks. What a novel and what a worthy and noble tribute to it Visconti has paid. I now own the Criterion three disk set of Il Gattopardo and never tire of watching what is for me, one of the great films of the twentieth century. Burt Lancaster, as the Prince of Salina, was an inspired choice for the cinematic role, though apparently he was not Luchino Visconti’s choice. I think the Prince of Salina is Lancaster’s finest performance.
DVDRip | MKV | 900 x 412 | x264 @ 616 Kbps | 185 min | 1,67 Gb
Audio: Italian AAC 2.0 @ 161 Kbps | Subs (embedded): English