You definitely have to be in the right mood to always watch these sort of movies. You really have to set your mind to it, since it isn't really an easy movie to watch, also because of its pace and length. But as far as these sort of long, epic, drama's go, this really isn't the longest though. And even though I don't too often watch these sort of movies, it are still being ones that I can't help enjoy watching and appreciate them for what they are.
It's one of those movies that you, by just watching it, can tell that it got based off a novel. It has all of the typical characters and side-plots for that. You can also tell that the novel it got based on must be a really thick and long one, since it handles a lot of different themes, lots of different characters, with each their own little story and some epic settings. The Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa novel is indeed a couple of hundred pages long and it's a story in the typical style of a family drama, that got spread out over the length of a couple of years. Interstingly enough it was the only novel Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa had ever written and he didn't even lived long enough to see it get released and gain lots of acclaim and recognition, in especially Italy itself. He was a born aristocrat himself, so he probably based some of the events, themes and characters on his real life experiences. It's definitely interesting to see how this story and its entire set-up continued to inspire writers and film-makers. This movie for instance shows definitely some similarities in style and tone (the rise and fall of a big and powerful family) to the first two "The Godfather" movies, perhaps also due to the fact that this movie also features a Nino Rota musical score.
So it's the story that makes this a mostly compelling one to watch. Lots is happening, with all of the many different characters, which perhaps makes the movie at times a bit too hard to follow. It does has a main storyline in it and you feel that the movie could had used some more focus at times, purely on its main story-line, involving the Burt Lancaster.
There is of course absolutely no reason for Burt Lancaster to be in an Italian production, playing an Italian- and also Italian speaking character. It's a bit ridicules and pointless if you ask me, also since he for obvious reasons got dubbed in the original Italian movie version. Seems to me they simply wanted to have a big international name attached to their project, for financial and marketing reasons. I'm not saying that Burt Lancaster doesn't do a decent job with his role but him playing the characters still felt forced, which did worked out as distracting at times. I was seeing Burt Lancaster playing an Italian but I was never really seeing the character. Of course the rest of the cast does mostly consists out of native Italians, such as the lovely Claudia Cardinale, who truly was one of the most beautiful actresses at the time and also had a streak of great movie roles in the '60's, with also roles in movies such as "8½", "C'era una volta il West" and "The Pink Panther".
It's not just the story that is being epic about this movie but luckily the movie also does has the right required looks for it. It got obviously shot in Italy itself, at some great places. It got some nice landscapes and some big looking interiors and exteriors for its old, grand expensive looking palaces. The cinematography all really captures it well and the movie also has some convincing costumes, make-up and such, that all help to capture the right mood and atmosphere of the time period the story is being set at.
Yes, the movie does feel as a long sit, mostly because the entire story is being told slowly and doesn't just focus on one character or main plot-line but it ultimately by the end is a very rewarding watch.