DVD of the Week – The Leopard (1963)

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

5 responses to “DVD of the Week – The Leopard (1963)

  1. I’m very excited to see this again in what is sure to be a beautiful print – can I say that anymore when it’s digital? I had the good fortune to see The Leopard for the first time in a theater (one with a really big screen) and thought it quite wonderful. I’ll want to see the original version but it will be hard to hear the wrong voice coming from Lancaster.

  2. I’d be afraid to watch the English dub version, seeing that Lancaster is the only American in the cast. I have the 3-disc DVD version from Criterion and the third disc has the 160 minute English dub version, but I don’t think that I’ll ever watch it.
    Alain Delon in another Visconti film is all anyone needs to know. :O)

    This is a magnificent film, directed by a true master filmmaker, and I hear that the Blu-ray version if phenomenal.

  3. I assumed that Cardinale and Delon did their dialogue for the American release version since they are both fluent in English, but I didn’t find any voice cast information at the Criterion site.

    The novel is excellent, too, and beautifully realized by Visconti. How rare it is to be able to admire a book and its film adaptation equally!

  4. The only rare exceptions are for The Leopard (1963), Gone With the Wind (1939), The Count of Monte Cristo (1998, with Gerard Depardieu), Pride Prejudice (1995, with Colin Firth), and Shogun (1980, with Toshiro Mifune and Richard Chamberlain). :O)

  5. That’s an eclectic list! There are plenty of cases where I like both book and movie, but _equally_ admire is much more limited. My list would include The Leopard, The Maltese Falcon and Musashi (in the Mifune trilogy).

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