187 minutes| Italy-France| 1963| Subtitled (Italian dialogue)| Colour| D-Cinema

‘One of the films I live by,’ said Martin Scorsese about The Leopard. It is fitting, therefore, that he should be the prime instigator behind this definitive restoration of Visconti’s masterpiece. Winner of the Golden Palm at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, the film premiered disastrously in America after Twentieth Century Fox had insisted on cuts and reprocessed the film in a colour system that catastrophically diminished its grandeur. Now one can appreciate the full majesty of Visconti’s vision (from Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s novel) of an aristocratic family in 1860s Sicily yielding to social change. Burt Lancaster is a towering presence as the patriarch; Nino Rota never composed a more ravishing score; and the epic ball sequence, bringing together the themes of adaptation and adjustment in a swirl of changing partners, is amongst the cinema’s most resplendent set-pieces. This digital restoration is an outstanding monument to a director whom Dirk Bogarde called ‘the Emperor of my profession.’ (Notes by Neil Sinyard).

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