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The Leopard (1963)
10/10
a film that just gets better with age, yours and its own!
18 July 2004
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.
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