by HELEN GEIB
Luschino Visconti’s The Leopard is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in a handsomely packaged edition from Criterion. The masterful adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s great novel stars Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon, and Claudia Cardinale. Criterion has given the film a high-definition digital transfer with restored image and sound, and preserved the original “Super Technirama” widescreen aspect ratio. Instilling confidence in the proceedings, the transfer was supervised by the film’s cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno.
In addition to the original Italian cut, the DVD/Blu-ray includes the alternate English-language version released in the US; the English-language version is approximately 25 minutes shorter than the original, but offers the compensation of Lancaster’s voice (he is dubbed in the Italian). There is a commentary track by film scholar Peter Cowie and video interviews with producer Goffredo Lombardo and Millicent Marcus, the latter a scholar speaking on the history behind the film’s story. Potentially the most interesting special feature is an hour-long document featuring interviews with Cardinale, Rotunno, Suso Ceccho D’Amico (one of the screenwriters), and per the Criterion site, “many others.” Other features include a stills gallery of production photos, original theatrical trailers and surprisingly for a film from the 1960s, newsreels.
Finally, the disc is packaged with a booklet including an essay by film historian Michael Wood. There is a 2004 essay on the film by Wood on the Criterion website. This may or may not be the essay in the booklet- the page for the film is silent on the question. You can read it here.
New releases this week: Creation, The Crazies, The Eclipse, Hot Tub Time Machine, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, The Warlords, The White Ribbon