Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Leopard

1963, TSPDT Rank #65

The Leopard is a crowning achievement by Visconti - a sweeping, romantic, and engrossing epic made in Italy in 1963 with an international cast, and set about 100 years earlier in the same country, while Italy was in the midst of political upheaval between the burgeoning middle class resistance and the dying aristocracy. Burt Lancaster does great acting here but his voice was dubbed by someone else into Italian. I'm tempted to watch the heavily cut English-language version now, just to see some of Lancaster's scenes with him speaking his native language. But I have to mention Claudia Cardinale: she is absolutely breathtaking - she steals every scene she is in to the point that you can't take your eyes off of her. In the grand ball scene that occupies most of the third hour, Visconti makes sure to accentuate the fact the Cardinale is the most beautiful woman at the ball - and we notice it too. In general, nearly all elements are working at full force here: from the amazing and painterly cinematography, to the story that runs the gamut from youth to old age, and shows us a healthy bit of the human experience, including the feeling of knowing you've outlived your time.

(Rating: 9/10)

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