The Leopard (Il Gattopardo)

The Leopard

Things will have to change in order that they remain the same.

Il Gattopardo, known in English speaking countries as The Leopard, is the first film by Luchino Visconti on the list I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, and thanks to the list it will not be the last. I’ve gotten to the point now where I begin to both anticipate and dread running works by the same director, and there are a great many directors that are well-represented on the list, to put it mildly. For my first Visconti film, I got his longest film out of the way, and as for quality, I could’ve done a lot worse (well, I don’t really know that; I haven’t seen his other works).

This is a different brand of epic, under different colors, but the pieces are all still there if you look closely enough. Grand, sweeping cinematography, a story on an epic scale (in this case, the lives of a family of aristocrats in the backdrop of 1860’s Revolutionary Italy), a score to match the level of the film; everything that is epic is here in some form. However, for such an epic production, there seems to be very little actually happening in this film. I watched the first hour and got a feel for the main character played by Burt Lancaster, and pretty much nothing else. There should be more happening in the first hour than setting up a single character, and setting up a single character shouldn’t take an entire hour. The shoddy overdubbing doesn’t help my immersion either, but the story is key to just about any film, and this one took too long to go anywhere.

Again, points off for obvious overdubbing; nothing sucks me out of a film more, and I have a sneaky feeling I’ll be seeing it a lot in the future, so get used to that statement. The production value is nice and very high, but not overly excessive or cheap by any standard; it is used just right, and was a constant highlight of the film. The cinematography was very nice, however, though it did seem standard after a while, like most epics tend to do with their cinematography.

I couldn’t help but feel that this was the sort of film I should be impressed by, but I generally wasn’t. Burt Lancaster does an excellent job, and the film is often very nice to look at for multiple reasons, but besides that, the film was barely par. Perhaps this was the way foreign epics were made, and the people responded to it; this did win the Palme D’or at Cannes after all. I just didn’t respond to it as much as I felt like I was expected to. The long running time only worsened the impression the film left on me. I know I shouldn’t expect every other opinion of this film to match mine, however; like I said, it felt like I should have liked the film a lot more than I really did. Persistence will pay off with this one, and you may find a new favorite, but as for me, I didn’t find enough material here to really sate my appetite.

Arbitrary Rating: 6/10

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