The Leopard | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Novelist Giuseppe di Lampedusa was a conservative, and filmmaker Luchino Visconti was a communist. But both men were aristocrats, and when Visconti adapted the posthumously published Il gattopardo to the screen in 1963, he created one of the movies' richest portrayals of fading aristocracy since Orson Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons. The 205-minute version that won the Palme d'Or at Cannes probably no longer exists, but this dazzling new 183-minute restoration of Visconti's greatest feature is so superior to the dubbed and faded 161-minute version released in the U.S. that it feels complete. Burt Lancaster stars as Don Fabrizio, a gentlemanly landowner in mid-19th-century Palermo who realizes that the old world is dying. The painterly peripheral detail of Visconti's epic exteriors is surpassed only by the extended ball sequence in the last third, in which realistic details double as Fabrizio's stream of consciousness. With Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. In Italian with subtitles. Music Box.

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