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A Short Take on a Long Movie

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 9, 2008 9:05PM

2008_7leopard.jpg Call us contrarians. One of summer's most delicious pleasures is to be esconced in a cool, darkened theater as we lose ourselves in a movie for a few hours. Or for more than a few hours. The Leopard, screening twice as part of the Siskel's Visconti retrospective, is 185 minutes long, and it's worth every single minute. The experience is especially overwhelming when seen on a big screen.

This Italian film from 1963 adapts a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa set in the 1860's. Burt Lancaster stars as an aging Sicilian prince, uneasy about the rumblings of revolution rolling through the land but also smart enough to know that the jig is up. The younger generation is represented by his nephew (Alain Delon, rarely more droolworthy) and his fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Shot in a format known as Super Technirama, the widescreen vistas are stunning, which includes Cardinale's wardrobe. The clothes in this movie make Sex in the City look like the Village Thrift. The climax is a 45-minute long ballroom sequence, so amazingly choreographed and sumptuously decorated your head will shake from side to side.

Yes, Criterion has released an excellent DVD, but this is not really something you'll want to see at home. And it's not something you'll want to hesitate about either. When it played at the Siskel a few years ago it sold out in advance, and we wouldn't be suprised if history repeats itself.

The Leopard screens on Saturday, July 12, 3:30 pm and Thursday, July 17, 6:30 pm. Ticket info here. Movie poster for sale on ebay Spain.