The Leopard (PG)

Luchino Visconti's 1963 epic considers the coming of revolution in 1860s Sicily, not from the point of view of Garibaldi and the forces of democracy but of a Prince (Burt Lancaster), "Il Gattopardo", a proud man struggling to maintain the authority of his class.

The ambivalence was all Visconti's, a Marxist and an aristocrat himself. It is one of the most beautiful-looking movies ever made, stately in rhythm, sensuous in mood, and dominated by Lancaster's towering performance as the big cat himself, his every gesture invested with patrician grandeur and, towards the end, a deep-set melancholy. Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale as the marriageable pair amp up the sense of evanescent glamour. Among several masterly setpieces, the long ballroom scene, with its sinuous movement and hundreds of extras, is an imperishable glory.

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