The Leopard (1963 film)

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The Leopard
(Il Gattopardo)
original film poster
Directed by Luchino Visconti
Produced by Goffredo Lombardo
Pietro Notarianni
Written by Pasquale Festa Campanile
Enrico Medioli
Massimo Franciosa
Luchino Visconti
Suso Cecchi d'Amico
Starring Burt Lancaster
Alain Delon
Claudia Cardinale
Serge Reggiani
Mario Girotti
Pierre Clementi
Music by Nino Rota
Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Edited by Mario Serandrei
Distributed by

Titanus (Italy - Theatrical) Medusa Entertainment (Italy - Current)

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (U.S)
Release date(s) 28 March 1963 (Italy)
15 July 1963 (U.S.)
Running time 161 Min (US Theatrical Release)
185 Min (US Uncut Version)
195 Min (French Version)
205 Min (Full Version)
Country Italy
Language Italian
Box office $1,800,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Leopard (Italian: Il Gattopardo, "The Serval"; alternate title: Le Guépard) is a 1963 Italian film by director Luchino Visconti, based on Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel of the same name.[2]



The film features an international cast including the American Burt Lancaster, the Frenchman Alain Delon and the Italians Claudia Cardinale (who is dubbed in the Italian version by Solvejg D'Assunta because her native tongue was French) and Terence Hill (Mario Girotti). In the Italian-language version, Lancaster's lines are dubbed into Italian by Corrado Gaipa; while in the 161-minute U.S English dubbed version, Lancaster's original voice work is heard.

When Visconti was told by producers that they needed to cast a star in order to help to ensure that they'd earn enough money to justify the big budget, the director's first choice was one of the Soviet Union's preeminent actors, Nikolai Cherkasov. Learning that Cherkasov was in no condition, Twentieth Century Fox stipulated that the star should be either Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Spencer Tracy or Burt Lancaster.[3] The producers chose Hollywood star Burt Lancaster without consulting Visconti, which insulted the director and caused tension on the set; but Visconti and Lancaster ended up working well together, and their resulting friendship lasted the rest of their lives.[4]


At the time of its release in the summer of 1963, the majority of critics panned the film. According to Newsweek, Lancaster looked "as if he's playing Clarence Day's Life With Father in summer stock.".[5] Jonathan Miller of The New Yorker derided Lancaster as "muzzled by whiskers and clearly stunned by the importance of his role.".[5] However Time magazine praised the characterisation of the titular Leopard as solid and convincing.[5]

Later opinion was more forgiving, New York Magazine calling the now-famous ballroom scene "almost unbearably moving."[6] Director Martin Scorsese considers the film to be one of the greatest ever made.[7]


The Leopard has circulated in at least four different versions. Visconti's first cut was 205-minutes long, but was felt to be excessive in length by both the director and producer, and was shortened to 195-minutes for its Cannes Film Festival premiere. Visconti then cut the film further to 185-minutes for its official release, and considered this version to be his preferred one. The U.S English-dubbed version, in which the Italian and French actors were dubbed over (except for Burt Lancaster, whose original English voice work is heard), was edited down to 161-minutes by its distributor 20th Century Fox.


"I am utterly without illusions. What would the Senate do with an inexperienced legislator who lacks the faculty of self-deception, essential requisite for those who wish to guide others?" (spoken by the Prince)[8]


The film was parodied by Sergio Corbucci's I figli del leopardo.

Awards and honors[edit]

Home media[edit]

There are several DVD editions available.

  • Region 2 (Italy) The Medusa Home Entertainment release (released in 2001) contains the 185-minute Italian version with several bonus features and interviews. This release is not English friendly.
  • Region 2 (U.K) The BFI Video release offers a restored version of the Italian cut with an audio commentary by David Forgacs and Rossana Capitano.
  • Region 2 (Japan) The Toho release contains an unrestored version of the Italian cut in the original audio (Japanese subs), and a rare alternate English dubbed track (different than the shorter U.S version). Extras are text based bios and facts in Japanese. This release is also not English friendly.
  • Region 1 (U.S) The Criterion Collection release is a 3-disc set containing a restored version of the 185-minute Italian version (with optional English subtitles), several bonus features, interviews, an audio commentary by Peter Cowie, and the 161-minute U.S English dubbed version as an extra.

Blu-ray release.

  • Region A (U.S) The Criterion Collection 2-disc Blu-Ray set boasts a new 4k scan of the 185-min Italian version in 1080P, most of the DVD bonus materials plus newly created ones, and the 161-minute U.S English dubbed version in 1080i.


The original 8-perforation Technirama camera negative for The Leopard survives and was used by The Criterion Collection to create their video master for DVD and Blu-ray, with color timing supervised by the film's cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno. New preservation film elements were created using a 4K digital scan of the film, done with the cooperation of the Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata, The Film Foundation, Gucci, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Twentieth Century Fox, and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale.[10] This restoration premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to great fanfare.[11]



  1. ^ "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 71. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  2. ^ The Leopard at the American Film Institute Catalog
  3. ^ Buford, Kate (2000). Burt Lancaster: An American Life. London: Aurum. p. 222. ISBN 1-85410-740-2. 
  4. ^ Buford, Kate (2000). Burt Lancaster: An American Life. London: Aurum. pp. 222–227. ISBN 1-85410-740-2. 
  5. ^ a b c Buford, Kate (2000). Burt Lancaster: An American Life. London: Aurum. p. 232. ISBN 1-85410-740-2. 
  6. ^ New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. 10 October 1983. p. 101. ISSN 00287369. 
  7. ^ "Scorsese’s 12 favorite films". Retrieved 25 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Criterion Edition English subtitles at 2:05:42
  9. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Leopard". Retrieved 2009-02-27. 
  10. ^ "Gucci Extends Five-Year Partnership with Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  11. ^ "Scorsese Restores The Leopard and Revives Cannes's Golden Age". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 

External links[edit]