Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale in the "Ball Scene" from Visconti's film The Leopard
It’s funny how often when you’ve been looking forward to something it’s arrival is soon followed by disappointment. My mother used to remind me “ anticipation is better than realisation”. Perhaps to protect me from life’s inevitable disappointments.
In March this year, I noticed my local independent cinema, the Tyneside Cinema was showing a restored version of Luchino Visconti’s Il Gattopardo- usually translated as “The Leopard.”
An e-mail from the British Film Institute, informed me that they had indeed restored the film and were in the process of transferring the original 70 mm negative material to DVD. The film’s director of photography Giuseppe Rotundo oversaw the transfer from the original “negative elements”.
Although I had an old VHS copy of the film, continual use had damaged the sound track and picture quality. Additionally, the version copied from the TV had been edited-butchered, some may say- to convert it into no more than a costume drama with a love story and couple of battle scenes bolted on. Its evisceration had been completed with a dubbed English sound track .
I have just collected a copy of the DVD. Realisation, in this case, far outstripped anticipation. For the first time I saw an almost uncut version in the original widescreen format. Thrown away was the costume drama to be replaced with most, though not all, of the political and social elements in the Lampedusa novel. In addition there’s a commentary by David Forgacs, Head of the Italian Department at UCL, who puts the film in its Risorgimento context, and Rossana Capitano, from the Visual Arts Department, Goldsmiths University who comments on the film’s production.
A time line of the Risorgimento
An interesting piece “Visconti's Cinema of Twilight” by Maximilian Le Cain at
And the Guardian’s Derek Malcolm’s review of the restored film’s original cinema release at
And for those who enjoy Roger Ebert view