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Public·30 Noice Traders

The Leopard (1963)


"We were the leopards, the lions, those who take our place will be jackals hyenas, and all of us - leopards, lions, jackals and sheep - will go on thinking ourselves the salt of the earth."




The Leopard (1963)


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After the prince of Salina turns down Chevelley's generous offer Chevelley gets in his coach and heads on out, as the prince quietly whispers softly under his breath, "We were the leopards, the lions. Those who will take our place will be jackals, hyenas. And all of us...leopards, lions, jackals, and sheep we'll go thinking ourselves the salt of the earth."


The Leopard is probably Visconti's greatest achievement besides his neo realism film Rocco and his Brothers and the themes in The Leopard of a fading culture dying out with a new one eventually replacing it, was one many Italians related too and still do. The film has circulated in numerous versions with Visconti's first cut which was around 205 minutes long, but this was regarded as too long so he cut it down to 185 minutes for the official release, and regarded this version as his preferred length. The version shown in the English-speaking world was a 161-minute dubbed version edited by 20th Century Fox using Burt Lancaster's real voice. Martin Scorsese helped finally get the original 185 min version restored and released again and it is now available on the Criterion Collection DVD and Blu ray, and it looks magnificent. The graceful waltz between the Prince and Angelica is one of greatest moments in Italian film and is tenderly shot by Giuseppe Rotunno. Critic Roger Ebert writes, "It's a powerful scene watching the young generation and the old dancing simultaneously, each aware of the other sexually and politically. And for just a few short moments the prince feels young again, thinking he could have made her his wife and the mother of his children, if not for the accident of 25 years or so that slipped in between them. But he knows that, and she knows that. And yet of course if they were the same age, he would not have married her, because he is Prince Don Fabrizio and she is the mayor's daughter. That Visconti is able to convey all of that in a ballroom scene is miraculous and emotionally devastating, and it is what his movie is about. " Critic Derek Malcolm says, "This is a set piece that has rarely been equaled," and critic Dave Kehr called it "one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema." "We were the leopards, the lions. Those who will take our place will be jackals, hyenas. And all of us...leopards, lions, jackals, and sheep we'll go thinking ourselves the salt of the earth." Those worlds the prince of Salina whispers softly under his breath after Chevelley's coach leaves implicates that once the jackals start mating, in time it will be difficult to be able to tell people apart. More importantly is that two worlds would die which is the old order and the original Italy; which is now represented by Garibaldi. Because of all of these changes that is beyond the prince's control; is probably a large reason why he turned down such a prestigious honor of being a Senator of United Italy. What makes The Leopard the great epic masterpiece that it is can be contributed to Burt Lancaster's electrifying performance. Film critic Roger Ebert says, "The prince is felt so sympathetically that we share his regrets for his dying culture, and the prince is such a proud and strong person, so respectful of his tradition and continuity that he compromises in order to save his family, and we share his remorse, and sadness." Roger Ebert interviewed Burt Lancaster years before the full cut was restored and released and Burt Lancaster discussed what he thought of his role in the film. "It was my best work. I bought 11 copies of The Leopard because I thought it was a great novel. I gave it to everyone. But when I was asked to play in it, I said, no, that part's for a real Italian. But, lo, the wheels of fortune turned. They wanted a Russian, but he was too old. They wanted Olivier, but he was too busy. When I was suggested, Visconti said, 'Oh, no! A cowboy!' But I had just finished 'Judgment at Nuremberg,' which he saw, and he needed $3 million, which 20th Century-Fox would give them if they used an American star, and so the inevitable occurred. And it turned out to be a wonderful marriage." Near the end of the film prince Don Corberta looks at his aging self in the mirror and a tear slowly runs down his face. This is a man who knows his time has now come to an end; and he must gracefully take a step back and let newer generations now take over from here. The prince decides to leave the wedding early and walk home alone, and during his walk he decides to get on his knees in the street and make a prayer. I always had wondered what The Prince was praying about at the end of the film; and then I realized I didn't need to know. The Prince deserves this private moment for himself and himself alone.


This is not a story of good and evil, but of humanity with all its flaws, hence its timeless quality. Filmed in glorious Technicolor, it has magnificent set pieces, including the final ball, almost an hour long. The screen is filled with rich period detail, Visconti insisting on authenticity. He had palaces restored, frescoes repainted. The shirts of the Garibaldini were hand dyed in different shades of red, as were those of the original band of rebels. For the dinner scene, plates were made with the Salini coat of arms, the leopard, even though they are never shown in close up. 041b061a72


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