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In Sicily during the 1800s, as the aristocracy found itself being suffocated by a newly democratic fervor, Prince Don Fabrizio Salina tries to hold on to the past, but it appears that his glory days are waning. This is perfectly exemplified by his nephew Tancredi Falconeri and his gorgeous wife-to-be Angelica. As the revolt gathers steam and begins to affect a real change, the aging prince must come to terms with the new world that surrounds him.
For more about The Leopard and the The Leopard Blu-ray release, see the The Leopard Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on June 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, Claudia Cardinale, Paolo Stoppa, Rina Morelli, Serge Reggiani
Director: Luchino Visconti
» See full cast & crew
The Leopard Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, June 15, 2010
Winner of the Palme d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, Luchino Visconti's "Il gattopardo" a.k.a "The Leopard" (1963) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the British Film Institute. The supplemental features on the disc include an audio commentary with Professor David Forgacs and Rossana Capitano; interview with Claudia Cardinale; and the film's original Italian theatrical trailer. The disc also arrives with a 26-page illustrated booklet. In Italian, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (Burt Lancaster, Birdman of Alcatraz) feels that times are changing. Garibaldi has landed in Sicily, and even his adored nephew, Tancredi (Alain Delon, The Assassination of Trotsky), who he has fancied to be his successor, has joined his army. Concerned about the future of his family, Fabrizio invites the newly elected mayor of the village, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa, The Gold of Naples), to dine with him in his palace because he knows that in the future he will need Calogero as a friend.
Calogero arrives at Fabrizio's palace with his beautiful daughter Angelica (Claudia Cardinale, Girl with a Suitcase), who immediately steals Tancredi's heart. Fabrizio is also impressed by her beauty, and so is his wife, Princess Maria Stella (Rina Morelli, Senso), who immediately senses that her plan to marry Tancredi to one of her daughters, Concetta (Lucilla Morlacchi, A Milanese Story), is in jeopardy.
Tancredi begs Fabrizio to ask Calogero for Angelica's hand and then leaves the palace to join Garibaldi's men. Upon learning about Tancredi's request, however, Princess Maria Stella goes berserk and warns her husband that a marriage between the two will not only hurt Concetta, who has already confessed to Father Pirrone (Romolo Valli, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) that she is in love with Tancredi, but will also tarnish the family's reputation. But Fabrizio brushes her off and instead meets Calogero and announces Tancredi's intention.
Tancredi returns to the palace, but this time as an officer of King Victor Emmanuel's Army. He brings with him Count Cavriaghi (Terence Hill, My Name is Trinity), who he hopes Concetta would fall in love with. After Fabrizio greets him, Tancredi gives Angelica a beautiful engagement ring.
Meanwhile, an emissary from Turin arrives at the palace and invites Fabrizio to become a senator in the newly established parliament. Much to his surprise, however, Fabrizio declines the offer. Before they part ways, Fabrizio notes: "We were the leopards, the lions. Those who replace us will be the jackals, the hyenas. And all of us, leopards, lions, jackals and sheep, will continue to think we're the salt of the earth".
Based on the novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, a Sicilian aristocrat who lived during the Risorgimento (the Italian unification), Luchino Visconti's The Leopard recreates an important period of Italy's past during which Garibaldi and his men invaded Sicily and clashed with the Bourbon supporters, defeated the army of the King of Naples, and consequently turned in Sicily and Naples to Victor Emmanuel, who became the first king of united Italy. The shock waves these events created in the Italian South are felt though Fabrizio's mixed reactions – approving of change and progress and at the same time targeting and criticizing the men who symbolized both.
The Leopard, however, is not a political film. If anything, it is a deeply nostalgic film. All of the dramatic conflicts in it lead to Fabrizio's profound realization that "for things to remain the same, everything must change".
Visconti was very specific about the look of The Leopard, which is why the emphasis on period detail in it is mind-boggling. The massive ball at the end of the film, for instance, is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever shot, truly evoking the spirit of a time when people worshiped excess.
Throughout the years, The Leopard has appeared in a number of different versions. When it premiered in Italy, the film apparently had a running time of approximately 205 minutes, but shortly after that Visconti edited it in a preferred by him 185-minute version. For its American premiere, The Leopard was dubbed in English and further cut down to 161 minutes. According to various Italian sources, in 1963, a different version of The Leopard was apparently shown at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the coveted Palme d'Or award.
The Leopard Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.20:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Luchino Visconti's The Leopard arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of the BFI.
The following text appears in the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The master (for The Leopard) has been provided by Twentieth Century Fox.
The Leopard has been presented in its original Super Technirama aspect ratio of 2.21:1 and was transferred in High Definition from the original 35mm 8-perforation negative. Director of Photography Giuseppe Rotunno supervised this transfer. The audio is presented in mono 2.0 and was mastered from the 35mm optical soundtrack print master.
Additional picture and sound restoration was done by Ascent 142, London. "
Similar to the Criterion high-definition transfer, the BFI high-definition transfer has been supervised by Mr. Rotunno. As a result, the basics here appear to be practically identical to those of the Criterion high-definition transfer: fine object detail is excellent, clarity very impressive and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is also practically identical to that of the Criterion high-definition transfer. There are some scenes that look slightly brighter on the BFI high-definition transfer, and the yellows and browns in them slightly better saturated (compare the opening shots with Fabrizio's palace), but the difference is negligible. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are, again, not a serious issue of concern. I also did not notice any large cuts, marks, stains, or dirt to report in this review. What I did notice during a few scenes, however, is some extremely mild background flicker. For example, in the very beginning of the film, as the camera moves through the garden and approaches Fabrizio's palace, the effect is quite easy to see. Elsewhere, I noticed some mild noise popping up here and there that I did not see on the Criterion high-definition transfer. All in all, though, this is still a remarkably strong high-definition transfer, which I believe serious film aficionados will be very impressed with. (Note" This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Leopard Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Italian LPCM 2.0. For the record, BFI have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
I don't have any major reservations with the Italian LPCM 2.0 track. Nino Rota's terrific music score sounds fantastic and the dialog is clean, crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. I also did not detect any serious balance issues. Finally, I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, or hissings to report in this review. (Note: I watched the entire film again, and my impression is that the English translation/subtitles isn't/aren't identical to the English translation/subtitles from the Criterion release).
The Leopard Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary - an audio commentary with Professor David Forgacs and Rossana Capitano. I spent the entire afternoon today listening to this commentary and I have to say that I liked it a lot. It is very different from the one provided on the Criterion Blu-ray release of The Leopard - it is dry but factual, with an abundance of information addressing the film's production history, its complex structure and characters. Professor Forgacs and Mrs. Capitano also offer a terrific overview of Luchino Visconti's career as a filmmaker and talk about the socio-political environment in Italy before and after the film's premiere. The audio commentary arrives with optional English SDH subtitles.
Interview with Claudia Cardinale - in this short video interview, the Italian actress talks about her special relationship with Luchino Visconti, her role in The Leopard, her work with Federico Fellini on 8 1/2, etc. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles. (10 min).
Trailer - the Italian trailer for the film. (4 min).
Booklet - a 26-page illustrated booklet containing David Forgac's essay "The Leopard"; Antonello Trombadori's "Extract from Interview with Visconti" by Antonello Trombadori; Luchino Visconti biography by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith; "Heads Must Roll", critical notes addressing the American version of The Leopard by Luchino Visconti; Guardian Interview with Claudia Cardinale; and technical information.
The Leopard Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
BFI's Blu-ray release of Luchino Visconti's The Leopard is as convincing as Criterion's Blu-ray release. My preference goes to Criterion's Blu-ray release because there are some extremely minor adjustments on it that make this epic film look even more spectacular, but BFI's Blu-ray release is still mighty impressive. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Leopard Blu-ray, News and Updates
• BFI Announces The Leopard Blu-ray - May 26, 2010
BFI Video has announced the release of Luchino Visconti's The Leopard (Il gattopardo) on Blu-ray for June 21. Presented complete and uncut in its original widescreen aspect ratio, this stunning High Definition transfer – from the original 35mm 8-perforation negative ...
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