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The Leopard (1963) In English please....


GMJLeo2036
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I admire and appreciate TCM's efforts at showing subtitled films. For example, after the U.S. release of 'Das Boot' (1981) I went out of my way to obtain a subtitled version. Even though I do not speak a word of German I just HAD to hear the lines delivered in their original language.

 

But in this case, part of the beauty and majesty of Director Luchino Visconti's efforts in The Leopard is hearing Burt Lancaster's voice. Yes, I know there are many advantages to the original version and not just to the purist....but Lancaster's performance without Lancaster's voice is just missing something of the beauty of the artistic integrity.

 

It's great to see this film again and THANX!! TCM for showing it. But is there any chance of you showing the scruffy, edited English language version? Maybe even a special mini-marathon of showing both versions to show the contrast ?

 

THANX! again TCM, keep up the good work...

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I admire and appreciate TCM's efforts at showing subtitled films. For example, after the U.S. release of 'Das Boot' (1981) I went out of my way to obtain a subtitled version. Even though I do not speak a word of German I just HAD to hear the lines delivered in their original language.

 

But in this case, part of the beauty and majesty of Director Luchino Visconti's efforts in The Leopard is hearing Burt Lancaster's voice. Yes, I know there are many advantages to the original version and not just to the purist....but Lancaster's performance without Lancaster's voice is just missing something of the beauty of the artistic integrity.

 

It's great to see this film again and THANX!! TCM for showing it. But is there any chance of you showing the scruffy, edited English language version? Maybe even a special mini-marathon of showing both versions to show the contrast ?

 

THANX! again TCM, keep up the good work...

 

I agree with you.  The lack of his voice detracts significantly detracts from his presence.  There is also the qu-eer (can't believe the nannies blank that word!) inconsistency of hearing someone else's voice come out of his mouth.  I doubt if Burt Lancaster's voice exists anywhere to be added, however.  Most Italian films (even now, I think) were shot without sound, the dialogue dubbed in later.  As I understand it, this was a convention that grew out of economic necessity.  If you want to hear Mr. Lancaster's real voice in an Italian film, try Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900, where you will also get Sterling Hayden's, Robert De Niro's, Alida Vali's, Dominique Sanda's, Donald Sutherland's, and Gerard Depardieu's real voices.

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I would like to back up what slaytonf said. Unfortunately, you're not missing anything. You still won't get what you want even if you see the dubbed version. TCM showed the dubbed version of THE LEOPARD during a recent 31 Days of Oscar, either this year or last year ... and it ain't Burt Lancaster's voice. In fact, whoever is doing the voice is so Not Burt Lancaster-y, I found the whole thing very off-putting. I never really could get into the movie. I just winced every time Burt moved his lips, and that not-Burt voice would be heard.

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I've never seen the movie in question.  But what I'm getting from the OP is that Lancaster's dialogue was "dubbed" into the subtitled version probably because Burt didn't speak the langauge it was supposed to be in?

 

Either way, "original" or "English speaking" version, somebody's  gonna be "dubbed".

 

 

Sepiatone

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I would like to back up what slaytonf said. Unfortunately, you're not missing anything. You still won't get what you want even if you see the dubbed version. TCM showed the dubbed version of THE LEOPARD during a recent 31 Days of Oscar, either this year or last year ... and it ain't Burt Lancaster's voice. In fact, whoever is doing the voice is so Not Burt Lancaster-y, I found the whole thing very off-putting. I never really could get into the movie. I just winced every time Burt moved his lips, and that not-Burt voice would be heard.

I felt the same way, when I saw it,  There's just something disturbing about it.

 

It's true that often European films are shot with  actors speaking their lines in different languages or with  heavy accents and then  the whole movie gets dubbed, but you'd think that for a well known star like Burt Lancaster they would have had him dub himself or, at the very least, found an actor that sounded like him.

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Just wanted to mention the 1997 LM Video Guide I keep handy says Lancaster's voice was dubbed in the English-spoken dub of the film and the original foreign version so Burt's voice just ain't there in any version of "THE LEOPARD" you see. 

 

    

 

    

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The Criterion Collection offers DVD and Blu-ray multi-disc sets of THE LEOPARD that do include Burt Lancaster's voice. 

 

According to the Criterion web page on the movie (http://www.criterion.com/films/790-the-leopard), one of the versions in the set is "The 161-minute American release, with English-language dialogue, including Burt Lancaster’s own voice."

 

 

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I just went to a screening of Visconti's Sandra (1965) this evening.  Beautiful restoration despite the fact that the original negative could not be found.

Anyway, American actor Michael Craig stars alongside Claudia Cardinale.  I doubt very much Craig did his own dubbing.  His character spoke too much like a native Italian.

Curiously, he didn't look much like Capt. Harding from Mysterious Island (1961) either.

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I realize I am in the minority here, but I found the film to be very enjoyable--primarily because of what I had read about its making in a Lancaster biography beforehand.  Based on my reading, I was looking forward to seeing it when it was broadcast on TCM the last time around.  The English subtitles at that time were small and difficult for me to read on the TCM broadcast, so I streamed the Italian version with English subtitles elsewhere and watched it up close and personal on my PC.  I found the story and location shooting beautiful, and Lancaster's performance quite touching once I got past his jarringly unfamiliar dubbed voice.  

 

Based on his biography, Lancaster was in love with the story and worked beyond everyone's expectations to achieve the vision of its director, whom he revered.  The same Lancaster biography suggested that the English dubbed version was more problematic for audiences--I no longer remember the reasons--than the Italian version with English subtitles.  Whether it was actual or threatened editing to cut down on the run time for the English dubbed version, making a mishmash of the story with additional edits, or distribution issues that led to poor audience attendance, I can't say specifically now.  I believe the English dubbed version was released at some point, but I was left with the impression that it was a messy project.  With that in mind, I resigned myself to watching the original Italian version with English subs.

 

For me, there is no question that the dubbing of Lancaster's voice presents a hurdle.  But once I managed to jump that difficult hurdle, I appreciated the film and its grandeur.  On the other hand, maybe it's just that I could read the subs without a magnifying glass!

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If you can read lips a little, you can see in the Italian dubbed version Burt seems to be speaking his dialogue in English (even at times matching the English subtitles), while others are speaking in Italian.  Must have been very strange to listen to the mixture of languages while shooting.  I agree with classicsuz that it's probably best to just try to go with the subtitles and sit back and enjoy the amazing story and cinematography.  The showing last night for the tribute to Technicolor although not quite Blu-Ray quality looked very good on a big TV.  This is definitely one of the films that the TCM HD channel and a good HD TV were meant for.

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I also agree with classicsuz.  Lancaster's performance is so remarkable that one forgets that it isn't actually his voice.  Aside from being on the Criterion disc, the dubbed version appeared several years ago on AMC, and the little I saw of it was not at all inspiring.

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