The Leopard (1963)


Luchino Visconti directs Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon in this epic domestic saga about an aristocratic family in decline throughout revolutionary Italy. 

Like the superior Doctor Zhivago, this portrays a once prosperous family struggling to keep afloat and united during political upheaval. Whereas as Lean’s tragedy is romantic and incident packed, this is morose and sedate. Both films have their subtleties and beauty but Visconti seems happier to let the rot nightmarishly seep into his picturesque sets and scenery while Lean obliterated his dynamically as he sharked ahead. The Leopard makes for a less satisfying, more patience testing experience overall. Still too well crafted an afternoon filler to dismiss… Lancaster’s performance is totemic, Cardinale never less than stellar. And by the end, as a rapidly ageing Lancaster ruefully looks on a room full of pisspots with the same silent disgust as his new social circle, the journey is affecting. Not the masterpiece of repute but there are echoes from The Magnificent Amberson and echoes to The Godfather within.



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