The Leopard (1963) – Luchino Visconti

The next film on the What Else to Watch list from DK Canada’s The Movie Book following my screening of Ossessione is this three hour epic starring Burt Lancaster.

Lancaster plays Prince Don Fabrizio Salina, the ageing patriarch of a dying dynasty. It’s Sicily in the 1860s and political and social upheavals cause Fabrizio great trouble as he struggles to maintain the structures of class and family within his home.

Stunningly and lushly shot, the film looks vibrant, and moves at a steady (if occasionally slow) pace.

As he tries to maintain the status quo, gently, a peasant Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa) gains riches and power, all against the backdrop of the war that is tearing the country apart (in some stunningly expansive crowd scenes, shot gorgeously on location).

Even as Sedara rises, Fabrizio does nothing to stop his family’s fall, or that of Sicily. His nephew, the slightly impetuous but open-minded Tancredi (Alain Delon) saves himself, and perhaps some of the family when he marries the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), Sedara’s daughter.

The film takes its time, even in the sequences of civil war, and the horrors that are committed, all in technicolor, and none more so than the last third of the three hour film, which features a ball wherein Tancredi introduces Angelica to society.


Epic in length and execution, Visconti’s film is a beautiful watch, the story unravelling at its own pace, underscored by the music of Nino Rota. To know that Visconti took the time to compose these beautiful shots, with sweeping and expansive backgrounds speaks to a manner of film making that no longer seems to exist.

The sets and production design is gorgeous. It was also nominated for Best Costume Design, and the level of detail that was paid to all of it was amazing. The film is a sumptuous feast for the eyes, and it makes for enjoyable viewing.

The story is engaging, and there are many things going on through out the film, including Fabrizio’s interactions with the family priest, Father Pirrone (RomoloValli).

The ball, running for forty minutes of the film’s length is a gorgeous watch, and serves as commentary on society, the changing times and the levels of class, money, and dynasties.

Cardinale is simply stunning, and seeing her was very enjoyable as I had seen her in other films (Once Upon a Time in the West, 8 1/2) but she will always be the Princess for me from the original Pink Panther movie.

Yes, the film may be three hours in length, but its definitely worth a look. This title and others are yours to discover with DK Books’ The Movie Book. Pick a copy up and check it out today!!






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