Scorsese Restores “The Leopard” and Revives Cannes’s Golden Age

Julian Sancton

5/15/2010 12:00:00 AM

Burt Lancaster in Luchino Visconti's Il Gattopardo, before and after restoration.

A common refrain at Cannes is that the films, the stars, and the glamour ain't what they used to be. This is disheartening to a relative newcomer to the festival.

How far back in time does one have to travel to get a taste of Cannes in its prime? Is it 2001, when George Clooney and Brad Pitt walked up the steps of the Palais together for Ocean's Eleven? Or 1976, at the height of the auteur period, when Martin Scorsese won the Palme d'Or for Taxi Driver? Or 1960, when the prize went to La Dolce Vita? Certainly there were fewer film bloggers then.

The answer is: last night. Scorsese brought the past to us in full Technirama glory with a pristine restoration of Luchino Visconti's masterpiece, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), 1963's Palme d'Or winner. Le tout Cannes assembled at the Debussy theater for the screening. Here were jury members Benicio Del Toro and Kate Beckinsale. There was festival darling Juliette Binoche. Salma Hayek accompanied her billionaire husband, Francois-Henri Pinault, who runs Gucci, a partner in the restoration effort by Scorsese's Film Foundation. Also in attendance were the film's two stars, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale, both fixtures of Cannes's golden age. The congregation waited for more than a half hour as Scorsese made his way, accompanied by Gucci designer Frida Giannini, through blocked Croisette traffic, and up the red-carpeted steps past paparazzi and the black-tie beau monde streaming into the Wall Street premiere. When he did arrive, his messianic aura rippled through the room, necks swiveled, and awestruck French film geeks shouted, "Fuck, it's Scorsese!"

"I live with this movie every day of my life," the director said when presenting Il Gattopardo, an epic adaptation of Giuseppe de Lampedusa's novel about an aristocratic Sicilian family's adjustment to a changing way of life during the Risorgimento. (It's Italy's Gone With the Wind.) Scorsese rhapsodized about the film's "deeply measured tone ... its use of vast spaces and also the richness of every detail."

As with every image printed onto celluloid, that richness and that detail—like the old aristocratic way of life, and like the glamour of Cannes' heyday—has faded over time. In the film, Prince Don Fabrizio Salina (a dubbed Burt Lancaster) says, "In order for everything to stay the same, everything must change." The line aptly describes the process of film restoration, which in this case involved 12,000 hours of work to transfer the 35 mm prints to a digital format, painstakingly remove 47 years' worth of dirt and scratches, and give the color a blood transfusion. The result is sublime, as close as possible to watching the film's first projection.

The colors are never more resplendent than in the sumptuous ballroom scene that makes up the last third the three-hour movie, from the deep red of the lobsters to the shimmering gold leaf, to the pastel hues of the gowns, and the, well, ochre of the chamber pots. Watching themselves waltzing onscreen, as one of the most beautiful couples in film history, Delon and Cardinale—now 75 and 72, respectively—grabbed each other's hands. After the screening, Delon, still dashing with a full head of white, longish hair (and from what I hear from a female audience member last night, still helplessly flirtatious), and Cardinale, elastic as a 20-year-old starlet, soaked in the audience's adulation as if they had just performed the film on stage. Visibly enamored, Scorsese, shorter than Cardinale by a few inches, stretched to kiss her on both cheeks.

Scorsese later stopped by at the after-party at the enchanting Eden Roc hotel, where Vanity Fair will host its party tonight.



Gucci Helps Scorsese Restore ‘The Leopard’

Steve Pond

5/14/2010 12:00:00 AM

$900,000 grant to Film Foundation helps with 4K digital restoration of Visconti’s 1963 Palme d’Or winner

When the newly-restored version of Luchino Visconti’s “Il Gattopardo” (“The Leopard”) premieres at Cannes on Friday, viewers will have Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation to thank for the restoration done to the 1963 Palme d’Or winner.

But they’ll also have to thank the Italian fashion house Gucci, which donated $900,000 to Scorsese’s foundation to help restore that film, as well as to do upcoming work on Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic “La Dolce Vita.”

Over the years, Gucci has donated $1.5 million to the Film Foundation for the restoration of six classic films, including John Cassavetes’ “A Woman Under the Influence,” Michaelangelo Antonioni’s “Le Amiche,” Barbara Loden’s “Wanda” and Visconti’s “Senso.”

The 4K digital restoration of “Il Gattopardo” was done at Sony’s Colorworks Digital Facility through a partnership of several firms: Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata, The Film Foundation, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Twentieth Century Fox, and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale.

The night after the restored film’s unveiling, Gucci’s creative director, Frida Giannini, and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter will host a dinner and party in honor of Scorsese and the Film Foundation’s 20th anniversary.



6/23/2009 12:00:00 AM

NEW YORK, NY - Following an extensive 2-year restoration, “The Red Shoes,” the 1948 masterpiece written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, will open Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy at the Piazza Maggiore on Saturday, June 27th at 10pm. 

“There's no question that ‘The Red Shoes’ is one of the most beautiful color films ever made,” said Martin Scorsese, Founder and Chair of The Film Foundation, his non-profit organization responsible for the restoration. “Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger created an incredible vision in ‘The Red Shoes,’ one that has never really been matched. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, ‘The Red Shoes’ has finally been fully restored." 

Award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell, who was married to Michael Powell, has consulted, along with Scorsese, on the restoration of this influential and beloved film and will present the film to the festival audience. 

The film was restored by Robert Gitt and the team at UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation in association with the BFI, ITV Global Entertainment Ltd., and Janus Films. Restoration funding was provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation. 

Working in partnership with the rightsholder, ITV Global Entertainment, UCLA and The Film Foundation began the restoration of “The Red Shoes” in the fall of 2006. In the 1980s, the film had been optically copied from flammable nitrate and acetate materials, and this new restoration built upon that effort using current state-of-the-art technology. Many additional elements were utilized, including vintage Technicolor dye transfer prints, nitrate and acetate protection master positive copies, original soundtrack elements, and - most important of all - the still extant three-strip Technicolor camera negatives. 

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging and Prasad Corporation performed the picture restoration, including 4K scanning of the original nitrate negatives, 4K image processing, 4K digital color correct (by Ray Grabowski) and 4K output to 35mm Eastmancolor negative. Soundtrack restoration work was handled by John Polito at Audio Mechanics and included a cleanup of the film’s original variable density soundtrack. 

Joining Ms. Schoonmaker-Powell for the presentation of “The Red Shoes” restoration at Il Cinema Ritrovato will be Margaret Bodde, Executive Director The Film Foundation and Fiona Maxwell, Director of Operations ITV Global Entertainment.

The Festival will also present three additional films whose restoration was funded by The Film Foundation: 

PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1951, d. Albert Lewin) on Sunday, June 28th at 11:00 am and Thursday, July 2nd at 6:00 pm at Cinema Arlecchino. This film was restored by George Eastman House, in association with The Film Foundation and The Douris Corporation. Restoration funded by the Rome Film Festival, and the Franco-American Cultural Fund, apartnership of the Directors Guild of America, Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Writers Guild of America, West. 

DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939, d. John Ford) on Tuesday, June 30th at 6:15 pm and Thursday, July 2nd at 11:00 am at Cinema Arlecchino. This film was restored by the Academy Film Archive. Restoration funded by The Film Foundation, with special thanks to Twentieth Century Fox. 

SENSO (1954, d. Luchino Visconti)on Friday, July 3rd at 10:00 pm at the Piazza Maggiore. This film was restored byStudiocanal, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia/Cineteca Nazionale, Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata. Restoration funded by GUCCI, The Film Foundation and Comitato Italia 150.
The Film Foundation ( is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 by Martin Scorsese. The foundation is dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history, and provides annual support for preservation and restoration projects at major film archives. Since its inception, the foundation has been instrumental in raising awareness of the urgent need to preserve films and has helped the archives save more than 525 motion pictures. The foundation has also created The Story of Movies (, an integrated curriculum that teaches middle and high school students how to “read” a film. The innovative program has reached an estimated 16 million students since its launch in 2005. Joining Scorsese on the board are: Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, George Lucas, Alexander Payne, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. The Film Foundation is aligned with the Directors Guild of America whose President and Secretary-Treasurer serve on the board.

Image courtesy of Cineteca di Bologna.



6/7/2009 12:00:00 AM

Francis Ford Coppola presented the New York premiere of his new feature film, TETRO, at the Directors Guild Theater on Sunday, June 7th. The event was co-hosted by The Film Foundation and Gucci.

As a Film Foundation board member, Coppola chose the foundation to serve as beneficiary for the event. The Film Foundation’s Executive Director Margaret Bodde introduced the evening. Coppola then welcomed the audience and spoke about the continuing work of the foundation and future challenges to preservation.

The evening concluded with a cocktail reception at Nobu 57. Guests for the evening included the film’s star Alden Ehrenreich, Xan Cassavetes, Jonas Mekas, Kevin Corrigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Gay & Nan Talese, and Ralph Macchio



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