The Leopard (1963) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Leopard (1963)



Critic Consensus: Lavish and wistful, The Leopard features epic battles, sumptuous costumes, and a ballroom waltz that competes for most beautiful sequence committed to film.

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Movie Info

Arguably Luchino Visconti's best film and certainly the most personal of his historical epics, The Leopard chronicles the fortunes of Prince Fabrizio Salina and his family during the unification of Italy in the 1860s. Based on the acclaimed novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, published posthumously in 1958 and subsequently translated into all European languages, the picture opens as Salina (Burt Lancaster) learns that Garibaldi's troops have embarked in Sicily. While the Prince sees the event as an obvious threat to his current social status, his opportunistic nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) becomes an officer in Garibaldi's army and returns home a war hero. Tancredi starts courting the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), a daughter of the town's newly appointed Mayor, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa). Though the Prince despises Don Calogero as an upstart who made a fortune on land speculation during the recent social upheaval, he reluctantly agrees to his nephew's marriage, understanding how much this alliance would mean for the impecunious Tancredi. Painfully realizing the aristocracy's obsolescence in the wake of the new class of bourgeoisie, the Prince later declines an offer from a governmental emissary to become a senator in the new Parliament in Turin. The closing section, an almost hour-long ball, is often cited as one of the most spectacular sequences in film history. Burt Lancaster is magnificent in the first of his patriarchal roles, and the rest of the cast, especially Delon and Cardinale, become almost perfect incarnations of the novel's characters. Filmed in glorious Techniscope and rich in period detail, the film is a remarkable cinematic achievement in all departments. The version that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival ran 205 minutes. Inexplicably, the picture was subsequently distributed by 20th Century Fox in a poorly dubbed, 165-min. English-language version, using inferior color process. The restored Italian-language version, supervised by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, appeared in 1990, though the longest print still ran only 187 minutes. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

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Burt Lancaster
as Prince Don Fabrizio Salina
Alain Delon
as Tancredi Falconeri
Claudia Cardinale
as Angelica Sedara/Bertiana
Rina Morelli
as Maria Stella
Paolo Stoppa
as Don Calogero
Serge Reggiani
as Don Ciccio
Ida Galli
as Carolina
Anna-Maria Bottini
as Governess Mademoiselle Dombreuil
Terence Hill
as Count Cayriaghi
Leslie French
as Cavalier Chevally
Olimpia Cavalli
as Mariannina
Sandra Chistolini
as Youngest Daughter
Brook Fuller
as Little Prince
Giuliano Gemma
as Garibaldino General
Giovanni Melisendi
as Don Onofrio Rotolo
Lola Braccini
as Donna Margherita
Ivo Garrani
as Col. Pallavicino
Rina De Liguoro
as Princess of Presicce
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Critic Reviews for The Leopard

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (22)

The film aches with regret over a crumbling empire, but its feelings are complicated by the wise prince, who recognizes his place on the wrong side of history.

December 11, 2013 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A magnificent film, munificently outfitted and splendidly acted by a large cast dominated by Burt Lancaster's standout stint in the title role.

February 23, 2012 | Full Review…

The film is a long, rich sigh at the end of the day, one that only Don Fabrizio can hear.

November 24, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The Leopard is more than a tad too pleased by its own spots, but in this case the source material and its director's intentions were almost accidentally an appropriate match.

December 30, 2010 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Two-plus hours of engrossing machinations and opulent scenery point the way to the pièce de résistance: a 45-minute gala scene that the Almighty himself would approve as a luxuriant prelude to the Rapture.

December 22, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

The film is one of the most sumptuous ever made in Europe.

September 1, 2010 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for The Leopard

Visconti's leisurely paced three-hour epic is a deeply sad and nostalgic meditation on mortality and the passing of an era. A sumptuous drama rich in nuances, with beautiful performances (especially Burt Lancaster) and an unforgettable extended ballroom scene in the end.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Visconti remembers the good ole days (ala Gone With The Wind) of an stately affected upper class ruling the dirty lower classes with humble grace and dignity (only this story's set in Sicily, though at about at nearly the same time), and their fading demise ... whatever (I got no sympathy at all for sad rich folks mooning over the good ol'days, sorry). Sumptuously filmed and orchestrated, with loads of loving details and drenched in melancholy (like GWTW), its about the changing of the guard, and maybe that is sad. The cast is worthy if the subject isn't.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Luchino Visconti's The Leopard is just as fantastic as I've always heard it was. I picked up the Criterion Blu-ray of this a while back and I'm just now getting around to watching it. An absolutely lush film with big open landscapes and vistas as the backdrop to a story about the old generation succumbing to the new. I've only seen the Italian version of this (more or less the director's cut), and the one thing I really missed was Burt Lancaster's voice. It grabs hold of you when he speaks and you want to hear everything that he has to say, so judging his performance via an overdub was a little bit tricky. It's fabulous, of course, as is the rest of the cast's. The film is also a bit of an art film without a clear-cut story. The visuals are vastly more important than the story, I think, but the performances are so good that it doesn't matter. Everything about it is striking. Most will complain about having to read subtitles or sitting through its leisurely three hour running time, but if you can invest yourself in it, you'll find The Leopard to be a very beautifully melancholy work.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

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