One of the most powerful and beautiful films of all time, “THE
LEOPARD” has been given the deluxe treatment from Criterion.
Visconti’s epic, running over three hours in length, is sweeping and
captivating from beginning to end! Based on a famous novel, the
story is set in the 19th century during a period known as
“Risorgimento,” wherein a revolution of sorts took place between the
aristocrats and those seeking to bring about democracy and “one”
Italy, rather than states under the control of the purely wealthy.
It’s rumored that Brando turned down the chance to play Don Fabrizio,
and while it would have been great to see his performance, it’s hard
to imagine anyone other than Burt Lancaster in this role. He’s that
good! Don Fabrizio is a unique, bright and strong character,
realistic about the coming social changes and how his power and way
of life are going to be dramatically changing. As good as Lancaster
is, the supporting cast is also magnificent. Claudia Cardinale proves
she’s as talented as she is beautiful here. She plays Angelica, the
beautiful daughter of one of the Dons struggling for control in the
new government. Don Fabrizio has arranged a marriage between is
nephew Tancredi and Angelica, hoping to preserve some semblance of
power in his strategically planned maneuver. This pending marriage
also symbolizes the social changes taking place. Fabrizio sees her
for the first time and realizes she’s the kind of woman he’s always
longed for, but had chosen otherwise, for all the wrong reasons.
These are just a few of the ongoing themes in a complex and brilliant
CRITERION has presented the film in a 3-disc Special Edition
To begin with, the original Italian theatrical version is presented
in its correct 2.22:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 enhancement. It’s a
flawless presentation! Colors are solid and brilliant throughout the
film. Contrast is also flawless, with blacks deeper than in almost
any other transfer we’ve ever seen.
CRITERION has presented the film’s mix in Dolby Digital 1.0.
Fidelity is limited, however there is no distortion and dialogue is
always intelligible. Even without a “remixed” stereo presentation,
the film loses none of its impact.
Being a CRITERION release, fans will be pleased with the extras!
Film historian Peter Cowie provides a commentary track, offering
detail and insight into every aspect of the film. It’s certain to
please the film’s fans as well as film lovers in general.
The 2nd disc offers a variety of interviews within a feature titled
“A DYING BREED: THE MAKING OF THE LEOPARD.” Ms. Cardinale, the
film’s screenwriters, cinematographer and more are featured here, and
it’s brilliant in its own right! An interview with the film’s
producer is also offered separately as well as “THE HISTORY OF THE
RISORGIMENTO”, a brief but important interview, in which a professor
discusses the historical significance of the film.
Stills and several trailers are also offered on this disc.
The 3rd disc offers the American Version of the film! Presented with
English dubbing, Lancaster and Leslie French provide their own
voices, making it an impressive dub.
Still, this version is missing 26 minutes from the original Italian
version! There are some significant scenes missing. Furthermore, the
transfer, while good, isn’t nearly as sharp as in the Italian
version. The soundmix is on par with the Italian version, although,
the original Italian mix is preferred.
BRAVO CRITERION! BRAVO!