The Leopard

Critics Consensus

Lavish and wistful, The Leopard features epic battles, sumptuous costumes, and a ballroom waltz that competes for most beautiful sequence committed to film.



Reviews Counted: 46

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,493


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4.2/5

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Movie Info

Arguably Luchino Visconti's best film and certainly the most personal of his historical epics, The Leopard chronicles the fortunes of Prince Fabrizio Salina and his family during the unification of Italy in the 1860s. Based on the acclaimed novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, published posthumously in 1958 and subsequently translated into all European languages, the picture opens as Salina (Burt Lancaster) learns that Garibaldi's troops have embarked in Sicily. While the Prince sees the event as an obvious threat to his current social status, his opportunistic nephew Tancredi (Alain Delon) becomes an officer in Garibaldi's army and returns home a war hero. Tancredi starts courting the beautiful Angelica (Claudia Cardinale), a daughter of the town's newly appointed Mayor, Don Calogero Sedara (Paolo Stoppa). Though the Prince despises Don Calogero as an upstart who made a fortune on land speculation during the recent social upheaval, he reluctantly agrees to his nephew's marriage, understanding how much this alliance would mean for the impecunious Tancredi. Painfully realizing the aristocracy's obsolescence in the wake of the new class of bourgeoisie, the Prince later declines an offer from a governmental emissary to become a senator in the new Parliament in Turin. The closing section, an almost hour-long ball, is often cited as one of the most spectacular sequences in film history. Burt Lancaster is magnificent in the first of his patriarchal roles, and the rest of the cast, especially Delon and Cardinale, become almost perfect incarnations of the novel's characters. Filmed in glorious Techniscope and rich in period detail, the film is a remarkable cinematic achievement in all departments. The version that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival ran 205 minutes. Inexplicably, the picture was subsequently distributed by 20th Century Fox in a poorly dubbed, 165-min. English-language version, using inferior color process. The restored Italian-language version, supervised by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, appeared in 1990, though the longest print still ran only 187 minutes. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Leopard

All Critics (46) | Top Critics (16)

  • The film aches with regret over a crumbling empire, but its feelings are complicated by the wise prince, who recognizes his place on the wrong side of history.

    Dec 11, 2013 | Full Review…

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • A magnificent film, munificently outfitted and splendidly acted by a large cast dominated by Burt Lancaster's standout stint in the title role.

    Feb 23, 2012 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The film is a long, rich sigh at the end of the day, one that only Don Fabrizio can hear.

    Nov 24, 2011 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Two-plus hours of engrossing machinations and opulent scenery point the way to the pièce de résistance: a 45-minute gala scene that the Almighty himself would approve as a luxuriant prelude to the Rapture.

    Dec 22, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Keith Uhlich

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Is this the most beautiful film ever made?

    Feb 9, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Stately, elegiac, ruminative, the film truly does now feel seamlessly all of a piece -- and looks glorious.

    May 5, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Leopard

Visconti's leisurely paced three-hour epic is a deeply sad and nostalgic meditation on mortality and the passing of an era. A sumptuous drama rich in nuances, with beautiful performances (especially Burt Lancaster) and an unforgettable extended ballroom scene in the end.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Visconti remembers the good ole days (ala Gone With The Wind) of an stately affected upper class ruling the dirty lower classes with humble grace and dignity (only this story's set in Sicily, though at about at nearly the same time), and their fading demise ... whatever (I got no sympathy at all for sad rich folks mooning over the good ol'days, sorry). Sumptuously filmed and orchestrated, with loads of loving details and drenched in melancholy (like GWTW), its about the changing of the guard, and maybe that is sad. The cast is worthy if the subject isn't.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Luchino Visconti's The Leopard is just as fantastic as I've always heard it was. I picked up the Criterion Blu-ray of this a while back and I'm just now getting around to watching it. An absolutely lush film with big open landscapes and vistas as the backdrop to a story about the old generation succumbing to the new. I've only seen the Italian version of this (more or less the director's cut), and the one thing I really missed was Burt Lancaster's voice. It grabs hold of you when he speaks and you want to hear everything that he has to say, so judging his performance via an overdub was a little bit tricky. It's fabulous, of course, as is the rest of the cast's. The film is also a bit of an art film without a clear-cut story. The visuals are vastly more important than the story, I think, but the performances are so good that it doesn't matter. Everything about it is striking. Most will complain about having to read subtitles or sitting through its leisurely three hour running time, but if you can invest yourself in it, you'll find The Leopard to be a very beautifully melancholy work.

Tim Salmons
Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

A great big sigh of a movie. Beautiful and moving.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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