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10/10
An unforgettable masterpiece. Finally available on DVD!!!!!!
EThompsonUMD25 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
American film audiences have rarely had the opportunity to view Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist in its original widescreen, non-dubbed theatrical release version. Although a restored print of the film has recently been shown at American film festivals, The Conformist remains unavailable on DVD. Its faded, butchered, and dubbed VHS/laserdisc release is long out-of-print, just about impossible to find, and a desecration not worth viewing in any case. Fortunately, I happened to view (and videotape) a widescreen, non-dubbed print of the film shown some years ago on a cable premium movie channel. No film lover should pass up an opportunity to see this film in any form approaching the director's intentions.

A comparison of Bertolucci's The Conformist with the novel by Alberto Moravia from which it was adapted illuminates much about the ambitious style and structure of the film. For instance, Bertolucci chose not to follow the novel's omniscient point of view. Instead, he uses the intensely subjective and heavily unreliable point of view of the story's main character, Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a child of decadent aristocracy who embraces fascism, not from ideological commitment but from a desire to blend in with his social surroundings. Bertolucci also structures the film's plot in a non-linear manner rather than emulating Moravia's chronological narration. This strategy yields a film equivalent of the modern novel's characteristic "stream-of-consciousness" technique, whereby the inner workings of Marcello's mind, his desire for "normality" at all costs, are plumbed in a fragmented series of recollections held together by psychological association rather than direct cause and effect.

Bertolucci's approach transforms Moravia's rather conventional, socio-political novel into a much more intimate and complex psychological study of the protagonist. The film's subjective point of view emotionally intensifies the formative and revealing experiences of Marcello's life such as his encounter as a young man with a male seducer, his shamed alienation from his parents, his deliberate courtship of and marriage to a shallow bourgeois young lady, and his ambivalent relationship with his anti-fascist former professor and the professor's liberated, bisexual wife. Two plot alterations from the novel are also worth noting. One is in the manner and location of the assassination of the professor and his wife, which occurs much more matter-of-factly in the novel. Bertolucci changes the setting to an isolated, snow-covered stretch of countryside where Marcello witnesses the execution and, by doing nothing to prevent or protest it, becomes morally complicit in the act. A second change involves the plot outcome for Marcello himself. Whereas in the novel Marcello and his family are killed by Allied bombing while attempting to flee Rome, the film's ending is much more open and ambiguous.

Technically, The Conformist's indisputably brilliant cinematography, directed by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now), combines with some of the finest low budget set decoration in film history to poetically evoke a 1930s European setting that seems simultaneously real and surreal. Such scenes as the blind persons' ball, Marcello's meeting with his father in a stadium-like insane asylum, his walk through the Italian fascist government building, and the justly famous low-angle shot of blowing leaves are either hauntingly lyrical or startlingly nightmarish or, often, lyrical and nightmarish simultaneously. Many shots in the first two thirds of the film are skewed by slightly oblique camera angles to suggest that we are seeing a reality shaped by Marcello Clerici 's selective, distorting memory. This visual style radically shifts once the climactic assassination takes place and Marcello's consciousness is absorbed entirely into the film's present time. George Delerue's musical score and other elements of the soundtrack also greatly enhance the wonderfully nuanced mood shifts within and between the complex narrative strains of the plot. Quite simply, The Conformist is an unforgettable masterpiece of the highest order.
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10/10
The Dark Poetry Of Politics
littlemartinarocena30 July 2011
To be everything is nothing. To go against what you cherish the most is the symbolic gesture of weakness. The brilliant story telling of the young and passionate Bernardo Bertolucci remains as vivid and powerful as the first time I saw it - 15 years ago, when I was 21 - The film is 41 years old now and I can only imagine the effect it had in its day. For me, it became a point of reference and to see it again is a shattering scramble of emotions. Jean Louis Trintignat is extraordinary and Stefania Sandrelli is superb as the mediocre, petite bourgeois wife. The art direction by Ferdinando Scarfiotti and the photography by Vittorio Storaro are, quite simply, without equal. I was very moved by the appearance of Pierre Clemeti as the ambiguous Lino. A film to visit and re-visit.
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8/10
Unique, visually stunning and surreal mix of history and suspense
dcavallo2 June 2001
Bertolucci's "Conformist" must not be missed if it shows up at your local art/independent movie theater.

Indispensable for its photography and visual style alone -- credit legendary DP Vittorio Storaro, best known for his work on The Godfather films and Apocalypse Now -- the film delivers with a ferocious punch on a remarkable number of levels.

Dense and often difficult, yet leavened with unexpectedly beautiful and humorous touches, "The Conformist" functions primarily as an indictment of Fascism and its adherents. But deeper threads run deeply through the picture; it is an examination of one man's attitudes towards the value of patriotism, love, family, marriage, sex and death, and, as has perhaps been overstated (by both the critics and perhaps the film-maker) it also explores the ramifications of homosexual repression.

Bertolucci expertly manages to weave these themes into a hypnotic, occasionally surreal experience that has served as an inspiration for countless directors.

Performances are brilliant throughout. Dominique Sanda is one of the most engaging and sensual women to ever grace the screen.

See this film, and you will simply wish to see it again.
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The best cooperation of artists of cinema
rogierr17 June 2001
This is one of few films in which every artist's performance peaks and falls into place: Trintignant (Z (1969), le Secret (1974)) at his best, Bertolucci's best picture so far, and Vittorio Storaro's best cinematography (besides Apocalypse Now). Their cooperation seems to pay off very well (Novecento (1976), Last Emperor (1987)) as they apparently enhance each other's work. With their brilliance they almost turn Marcello into a hero, while he is actually an anti-hero in this non-linear story. It's not only an entertaining personal tragedy, it's also a political thriller with very distinctive music. I couldn't imagine life without Il Conformista anymore (like Amarcord and some other masterpieces).

Always beautiful, never sentimental: poetic from minute to minute. The compositions, lighting and camera-movements made me breathless: I've never seen so much poetic power in one film. Watch for instance the camera's movement to behind the tree when Manganiello searches for Marcello in the small park @ 68 min. And for instance the hand-held scene near the end. Or the camera placements when Marcello comes approaches his mother's house. Actually the entire film is a big poem. See for yourself :-)

I was lucky enough to see this one in a theater just two months after seeing it first (dec 2000). If you have the chance, go see it on a big screen. If you like the looks of this you will probably like 'Una giornata particolare' (1977) and 'Amarcord' (1974) too.

Why o why can't we vote 11 :(
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10/10
Architecture meets celluloid.
victor775430 July 2001
What is most amazing about The Conformist is it's cinematography and angles.

Director Bertolucci and Cinematographer Storraro have created a masterpiece of form by using light, camera angles, and character positioning.

The architecture dwarfs the characters as they try to make sense of their existence during Italy's fascist period (1930's). They are placed theatrically at times creating a balance of space.

The Conformist is the most stunning film visually I have ever seen. Every scene is immaculate, kind of surreal, almost to rich for the senses to take in one viewing.

The story is somewhat difficult on the first viewing but one can figure the basic plot line. It is a story about repression and oppression, about nationality, political beliefs during a paradigm shift. It is about acceptance and avoidance. It is about playing it safe in a time of tension.

The final scene suggests what the main character might have become had he chose the truth. It is left up to us to judge him and realize that it is sort of a catch 22; either way, he would have ended up in that dark place where a fascist country would mentally place same sex love.

See this film to see the potential of the beauty of film.

Conform or not to Conform? That is the Question.
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plato's cave revisited.
cici clementine6 February 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I recently watched this film in my Italian cinema class and I believe it is one of the greatest films ever. Not only does Bertolucci mix elements of film noir and haunting surrealism, he is able to express his obsession with the illusion of reality. The film is based on the eponymous novel by Alberto Moravia, and although I have not had the pleasure to read it, I hear the film does not stray from the plot of the novel. Of course Bertolucci puts a spin on the chronology of the plot; allowing us to first see the film 2/3 into the plot, we weave back and forth between the protagonist's childhood, his admittance into the Fascist party and then finally the present.

The film follows Clerici's quest for normalcy and acceptance, since he views himself as abnormal and an outcast from society. If it means he must marry the airhead giulia (his ticket to bourgeois life) he will. He tries to conform to society, and in doing so joins the Fascist party: the epitome of ideological conformity.

The film is essentially about shadows in the cave, and the scene in which he meets up with his former professor is a direct allusion to Plato's myth. We see Clerici's shadow on the wall as professor Quadri recounts the myth. Clerici has been living his life, unable to exit this cave. He sees only shadows on caves, and instead of realizing they are merely shadows, lies, illusions, he remains imprisoned, like the prisoners in plato's cave. When the professor opens the window and light streams into the room, we believe this illumination will open Clerici's eyes. But he has failed to accept things that have happened in the past, and therefore is unable to grow up. He does not overcome his violent tendencies (he will take part in a conspiracy to kill Quadri since Quadri is an anti-Fascist in order to gain acceptance into the Fascist party) and lives forever boxed in that cave. The professor fails to illuminate Clerici because he is not the ideal Platonic hero: has abandoned Rome when the Fascist regime begins to rise and leaves his Italian followers to their own devices. He has not been a hero of the resistance, preventing others from joining the ranks of such a disillusioned ideology because as Clerici states: "You left and I became a Fascist".

Some have questioned the scene between a 13 year old Clerici and the homosexual chauffeur named Lino. Some one said why does he have sex and then shoot him? First of all, Lino propositioned him, an act of sodomy never occurred. Second, at 13, Clerici (like most budding pre-pubescents) was probably intrigued and curious and then immediately ashamed by the so-called "deviance" of homosexuality. He shoots him because he becomes enraged in his attraction to Lino and seeks to punish he who almost set off his unknown erotic impulses. This crime will never leave him as he then sees he must atone for this sin by committing another: hence the murders of the Quadri and his wife (although she is not originally part of the conspiracy).

Italo, his blind friend, is an ideologue, the embodiment of Facist theory. It is appropriate that he is blind, because those who followed the regime were blind and disillusioned. When they walk together down in the ranks of the coliseum, Clerici will once again place the blame on someone else for his crimes by accusing Italo of Fascist allegiance.
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9/10
Striving For Normality
seymourblack-15 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Why did a seemingly ordinary man in fascist Italy, in the late 1930s,volunteer to become a political assassin? This movie reflects on some of the key factors involved and also shows the reasons why he found his mission far more difficult than he originally expected. The assassin's story involves sex, politics, treachery and murder but also focuses on the psychological impact of his experiences in a series of flashbacks that brilliantly illustrate the types of incidents that contributed to the inner turmoil that made him the repressed and deeply dissatisfied man that he'd gradually become.

With the help of his blind friend Italo (Jose Quaglio), Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) becomes a secret police agent and volunteers to assassinate the leader of an anti-fascist group. The man in question is Marcello's former university professor Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio) who, because of his political views and activism, had exiled himself in Paris.

Marcello had always felt an outsider because of his privileged upbringing and visits he makes to his father (who's in an insane asylum) and his morphine-addicted mother (who's having an affair with her chauffeur), leave him feeling even more troubled. An incident that happened in his early teens when a chauffeur tried to molest him, left Marcello haunted both by his initial response to the situation and also the fact that he'd shot his assailant. His desperation over these issues intensified the need in him to conform to society's norms so that he could become more fully accepted by others and thereby feel more normal.

In an attempt to achieve the type of normality he craved, Marcello had become engaged to Guilia (Stefania Sandrelli), an immature middle-class young woman whose preoccupations clearly irritated him. His impending marriage gave him the opportunity to arrange a honeymoon in Paris and this in turn provided him with the pretext he needed to go to the French capital. When he makes contact with Quadri and his much younger wife Anna (Dominique Sanda), he quickly becomes filled with doubts about what he's doing because he can't help but respect his old philosophy mentor and also becomes obsessed by the bi-sexual Anna who he finds infinitely more fascinating than his own wife.

Marcello's dilemma deepens as he recognises that if he doesn't go through with the assassination he'll have lost his best opportunity to fit in with the majority of other people and it's only through the influence of a fellow agent called Manganiello (Gastone Moschin) that the mission goes ahead.

"The Conformist" is a great movie in which the troubled intensity of its main protagonist is only equalled by its incredible visual impact. The beauty of its opulent, stylish interiors, its ornate furniture and the sheer scale of the marble interiors of the fascist headquarters make an indelible impression as does Vittorio Storaro's stunning cinematography. His inspired use of colour, some amazing visual compositions and tilted and overhead camera angles also add immeasurably to the experience of watching this film.

There are a number of strong performances with Jean-Louis Trintignant predictably standing out. Ultimately, however, it's the story's subject matter that makes it so absorbing and the visual strength of the piece that makes it look so amazing.
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10/10
One of the Most Visually Hypnotic Films I've Ever Seen
evanston_dad16 June 2008
Bernardo Bertolucci's stunning early-1970s classic looks absolutely beautiful nearly forty years later. It tells the story of a fascist in 1930s Italy who is assigned to root out and assassinate anti-fascists. As the story develops, we learn that a childhood event played a large role in shaping this man's perception of himself, and that the life he is leading is largely a lie.

The story Bertolucci tells is odd and compelling, but what kept me glued to the television screen was the film's mesmerizing visual style. Bertolucci collaborated with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, and it's not an exaggeration to say that they create some of the most beautiful images I've ever seen in a film. One might expect Bertolucci to adopt a sombre color palette for telling such a gloomy story, but that's not the case. On the contrary, he opts for lush colors, striking contrasts, and stylized lighting to create a slightly surrealistic environment that's one small step removed from reality as we know it.

A truly remarkable movie.

Grade: A+
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One of the greatest films ever made.
Benedict_Cumberbatch10 August 2008
I have been a fan of Bertolucci for quite a while now - his recent films like "Stealing Beauty" and "The Dreamers" make my all-time favourites' list, while his acclaimed "The Last Emperor", which I saw years ago, didn't make me a great impression: it was definitely a well-made epic, just didn't fascinate me like some of his other films. Same thing with his controversial "Last Tango in Paris": other than Marlon Brando's devastating performance, which will always be a must-see for those who admire raw acting, the film's daring (for its time) approach to sexuality is now outdated, and the film is rather dull in its apparently liberal speech (the fact that I'm not exactly a Maria Schneider fan doesn't help). And last night, I finally watched the extraordinary "The Conformist", arguably his masterpiece and undoubtedly one of the greatest films ever made.

Based on a novel by Italian author Albert Moravia (who also wrote the novel that inspired Godard's "Contempt"), "The Conformist" is the story of a closeted homosexual, Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who becomes a fascist yes-man, marrying a clueless girl, Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli) and going to Paris for their honeymoon. Marcello's bosses ask him to kill his old college mentor, Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), an anti-fascist who fled Italy to live in Paris with his young, beautiful and idealistic wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda). Anna and Marcello are former lovers, but that's not the only pitfall in Marcello's plan, nor is it stronger than his tragic conformism to an exacerbated political regime and the fear of living as a "pederast"/having his homosexuality made public.

The political factor is an open part of the plot, while Marcello's sexuality is very ambiguous (he seems to have real feelings for Anna, yet a childhood trauma and a homophobic attitude show his tragic character formation). "The Conformist" works as a riveting political thriller and a haunting character study, and it's impossible to praise this film without mentioning Vittorio Storaro's breath-taking cinematography, possibly his greatest (and that's saying a lot) and certainly one of the very best in film history. The whole film is so beautifully shot that every scene seems to be taken out of a painting; it could perfectly be photographed now rather than 38 years ago and it wouldn't look any better. The performances are all magnificent, particularly Trintignant, Sandrelli and Sanda, each perfectly portraying blind rage, ignorance and idealism, respectively. All in all, as close to perfection as film-making gets, and as timeless as its main themes (politics, conformism and sexuality) - if you think this couldn't happen today, take a look around and tell me how many gay Republicans you know?

10/10.
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10/10
One of the best films of 1970
MisterWhiplash2 August 2005
It's a fascinating blend of tense character study, torn love story, and a background loaded with subtext and history that writer/director Bernardo Bertolucci brings with The Conformist. But through the entire length of the film, even if you're not totally vested in interest in the main character (who, indeed, is meant by design not to be a 'likeable' protagonist), the look of the film, its sweep and style and what most great movies do- sucking you in on the side of composition, mood, and music- is worth recommending.

The film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, an actor with a cool exterior but something very uneasy underneath the surface in almost all of his scenes (which perfectly suits the character he plays). Based on Alberto Moravia's novel of the same name, Marcello Clerici is a fascist, or at least part of the fascist 'clique' of sorts in late 1930's Italy. He's a secret officer who gets assignments to track people down and either kill, or collaborate as it were. He has some skeletons in his closet, to be sure, and in one of the most striking and powerful scenes of the film, he recalls a particular incident in his youth that stayed with him, if only in the back of his mind (I won't reveal it, but it comes as something of a shock, not so much in its outcome, but how Bertolucci approaches directing the scene with the Chauffeur and the kid).

Going along with this sort of 'clique' that Marcello sticks in, he has a young wife, who loves him but is not really his equal on any sort of intellectual or even emotional basis. The actress playing her, Stefania Sandrelli, conveys this mostly 'ignorance is bliss' attitude that helps the film allow some lighter-than-air moments (i.e. the 'Dance of the Blind' sequence, a masterstroke to be sure). For some reason or another, which does become more obvious as the story goes along (and ties into this non-linear structure Bertolucci works with intelligently), Marcello seeks out and visits his old Professor, an anti-fascist, and his beauty of a wife, whom he becomes somehow smitten with (the two character actors in the parts, Enzo Tarascio and Dominique Sanda respectively, hit all the right notes, even with the subtext of scenes).

After the sort of climax to all this, we move ahead several years later, when Mussollini is gone from power, and there is one last scene with Marcello that really made me sit up and take notice. I'm sure Bertolucci was fairly faithful to the original text (having not read it I can't say for certain), but he keeps a challenging ending for the audience- a lessor filmmaker might have Marcello come to some kind of clean-cut catharsis in the wake of the end of fascism. Bertolucci doesn't have that, and he and Trintignant keep it true to the character and his personality, which sort of brings to a head not so much a story resolution, but just one of something simpler about society- what does this sort of upper-class conditioning do to a person after a while, especially if there is this certain level of detachment that Marcello has. In the end, he's truer to the film's title than anything of his own real 'beliefs'.

But going aside from the solid philosophical &/or political debate that could go on from the themes raised in the film, going back to the pure film-making aspect of The Conformist, one can sort of sense this as being like a 'test-run' of sorts for Bertolucci to work solely with the masterful Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (of Apocalypse Now fame) for their following masterpiece, Last Tango in Paris. In some small ways, at least for Storaro, The Conformist paints even richer details and strokes of light and dark and shadow than in Last Tango. And the two have a sense of not sticking directly to one set way of filming either, which is very good. There will be a scene like when Marcello and the Professor are talking in the Professor's office, and Marcello pulls the shades down completely on one window and leaving the other open. This creates a stark, almost baroque contrast between the two of them that works well just for mood if nothing else.

Then there is also the factor of how Bertolucci gets his camera moving, often in urges that would seem unnecessary or too 'artsy' for other filmmakers- the dance scene, for example, brings a viewer to move with the dancers, but ever so slightly, and then the frame is filled with these moving bodies and it's a truly virtuoso sequence. Even a scene that might be fairly standard for say an action film director, when the chase through the snow covered forest happens, the use of the hand-held camera isn't going too cheesy- if anything it really heightens all the tension that has been building since the start of the film (most of the time the camera's on dolly tracks or some other form, then it switches and it adds a different sort of intensity to the proceedings). Although Bertolucci and Storaro won awards from the National Society of Film Critics, I see it as a fairly big snub on the Academy's part to not have given Storaro a nomination.

On top of that, there's other factors that add to the collaborative effort of Bertolucci's success: there's the emotionally excellent Georges Delerue score, and Ferdinando Scarfiotti's cool production design (later also a production designer on Last Tango). In the end, along with the technical side, it's also the story, and the character(s), that add to the appeal of the Conformist. It's a lot to take in on a first viewing, but it doesn't disappoint for the fan expecting good things from the young Bertolucci.
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10/10
A Beautifully Made Cinema.
SameirAli27 February 2017
This is an amazing, beautifully made cinema.

The movie begins when the protagonist is in a hurry and he is traveling somewhere. As he is in the car, his memories comes. This gives the story of the film. This non-linear pattern of story telling makes the movie more interesting.

Rather than political tension prevailing, I was more attracted and haunted by the personal attachments and drama. That was an amazing plot.

This movie, according to me gives a lot of lessons on cinema, cinematography and direction. The framing, camera movements, shapes, colors, actors placement, blocking, mise en scène etc are all superb. I enjoyed the movie very well.

A must watch. highly recommended. #KiduMovie
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9/10
The dangers of conforming, according to Bertolucci
lucasversantvoort6 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Director Bernardo Bertolucci was on to something when he directed and wrote Il Conformista/The Conformist in 1970. It's a political thriller of sorts, dealing with the fascist politics of Italy around 1938. More than that, however, it's a psychological examination of one man's mind, Marcello's. The film traces the important events of his life, how sexuality and violence traumatized him, and how it all led to him being desperate to conform to whatever seems popular at any given time. The desire to be normal is something we're all familiar with, but Il Conformista pushes this phenomenon to its most psychologically extreme form.

The story begins in 1938 in Paris when Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant), sitting on his hotel bed, is called by his employer, a member of the Fascist secret police, telling him the plan's about to go enter the final stage: the murder of a college professor who's fled Italy when the fascists took over. To make matters more interesting, the professor is an old acquaintance of Marcello's. He gets in the car with a colleague and together they chase down the professor. The film then flashes back to other crucial parts of Marcello's life to show how he became the man he is today. Every once in a while, the film goes back to the present, with Marcello sitting in the backseat while his colleague chases after the professor. Though to say too much would be spoilerish, flashbacks include an early one when where Marcello is bullied as a child and saved by chauffeur Lino. He takes him to a mansion where he shows him a gun and then tries to seduce him. Marcello seems to give in to his advances, but then takes the gun and kills Lino in a hail of bullets. Other flashbacks show his attempts to join the fascist secret police and his attempts to be normal. The only reason he wants to marry Giulia is because he thinks she's as plain as can be, a typical normal wife that all of society can accept. The entire film thus leads up to the point where Marcello and his colleague give chase to the professor.

I've always considered Il Conformista to be more of an incredibly subtle horror film than a drama or a thriller. Obviously, the film isn't a typical horror film, but it is horrifying in terms of its psychological portrayal of Marcello. This is particularly apparent in the film's climax in regard to the professor which even now is hard to stomach. The number of ways in which that scene is horrifying is something no typical horror film comes close to achieving, because it's not about physical violence so much as it is about the emotional violence inflicted on a fellow human being. It's hard to explain. You have to see it to believe it. There's something quite threatening ingrained in every single scene which is ironic, because the film looks absolutely stunning. Here's where Bertolucci and legendary cinematographer Vittorio Storaro's achievements come into sharp focus. First of all, they emphasize the Fascist art style during the scenes where Marcello's in the vicinity of Fascist government buildings. The architecture is easily recognizable with its emphasis on the color white and sharp angles. It's very suggestive of old German propaganda films. On the other hand, the film's color scheme is very lush which contrasts with the physical and emotional violence taking place.

The way the story is set up is absolutely wonderful and there are little things that tie several events together quite nicely. Consider for instance the notion of the driver, or the chauffeur. Every time we see Marcello inside a vehicle, he's never driving himself, he's always being driven by someone else. In the same sense, he's also driven by others to do their dirty work for them. During the entire chase scene, Marcello occupies the backseat; when he's a little boy, he's chauffeured by Lino to a mansion; he and his fiancée Giulia occupy a train cabin, etc. It's a neat and subtle way of symbolizing how Marcello is not in control of his own life and tends to follow those that lead. Half the story is basically told through the cinematography. Also important is the way in which Bertolucci links the themes of sex with fascism and violence and the desire to be 'normal' and how this is all intertwined in Marcello's mind. Marcello doesn't care about joining the fascists beyond that it will help him appear normal in the eyes of others. The themes of sex, violence and fascism are those that director Bob Fosse would utilize in Cabaret two years later. While both are successful in doing this in their own ways, there's a risk in that by equating the politics of their times with sex, you simultaneously ignore the other historical factors at play. Obviously, Bertolucci and Fosse are aware of this and that one film can't encompass the entire rise of Fascism, but it's important to note nonetheless. And it's peculiar indeed that these two films which so closely followed one another look at the subject of fascism through similar lenses. Either way, Il Conformista is classic cinema in the finest sense. The editing keeps the audience on its feet with the constant crosscutting between past and present, constantly promising death is on its way, the cinematography is lush and suggestive, Delerue's score is melancholy and tense, Trintignant is incredibly understated and Bertolucci's direction is wonderful. A political and psychological thriller for the ages.
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10/10
Just simply a masterpiece
preppy-33 February 2006
Story of a weak-willed Italian man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is ordered, in 1938, to assassinate his one-time professor. He is ordered by a Fascist organization he joined to become normal, to conform (he's gay and ashamed of it). He takes his annoying wife (Stefania Sandrelli) with him...only to find his professor has married a former love of his (Dominique Sanda). Can he kill them both? This film is just riveting. The story is never boring and full of some very intriguing people. The acting is superb--especially by Trintignant who you see holding his fear and indecision inside and Sanda who is unbelievably sexy...and dangerous. I don't know much about politics so I'm not going to discuss that.

But this film is a must-see for the incredible cinematography by Vittorio Storano and masterful direction by Bernardo Bertolucci. The sets are exquisite--every single one looks incredible and is beautifully lit and shot for maximum impact. Sometimes I was just so caught up in the visuals I lost track of the story! Every shot is filled with rich symbolism. My favorite sequence was at a dance hall when Trintignant is "caught" in the dance. Also some prints are missing a 10 minute "Dance of the Blind" that was cut from original prints. It's no loss--it adds nothing to the story.

Quite simply one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen with a strong, intriguing plot. A powerful must-see film. A 10 all the way.
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Shadows are not Visions but Realities
patita-123 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I realized that three of my favorite films got something in common. Their protagonists dressed impeccable suits and wear hats too:J.J. Gittes in Chinatown(1974);Marcello in 8 ½(1962);and Marcello Clerici in Il Conformista(1971) also this actors seem to be in a kind of crossroad or in an emotional conflict , in appearance they look impassible.

Our man,Clerici( played masterly by J.L. Trintignant) is an elegant,attractive man.He is serious and reflexive.He wants to know the significance of normal/normality.He asked to his best friend,Italo(who is also gay and blind) Who is a normal man? "a normal man is one who turns his head to see a beautiful woman's bottom. The point is not just to turn your head. There are five or six reasons. And he is glad to find people who are like him, his equals. That's why he likes crowded beaches, football, the bar downtown-" Maybe we can find `normality' in disappointment or boredom.

Our man,the conflicted Marcello carries inside him a terrible guilt.Something he experienced during his childhood,a trauma always present in his mind(the audience are aware of this through flashbacks) Being an adult and Fascist in the tumultuous Europe of the 30s,Marcello has A STRANGE MISSION:To visit (in Paris) his former university professor, Quadry(who is an anti- fascist) and to be part of his murder/complot, but, is he capable to do that?.Besides this,Marcello has a relationship with two opposite woman;his child/woman wife,Giulia(Stefania Sandrelli)and Quadry's wife,Anna(Dominique Sanda,what a presence!)He feel in love with this sophisticated intimidating blond,"I'm hostile because I'm sincere"! Anna says to Marcello and she's right. I was impressed during the scene in that French forest covered with snow.Especially when the woman (she is outside) shout at Marcello(He is inside the car) through the car's window. He staring at her in shock. Then the persecution into the forest.Chilling!.

Vittorio Storaro Cinematography is superb.An example? Notice when Marcello enters the palace to see the Ministry.He walks up the stairs and his shadow's projection on the floor diminish.Or when Marcello is at Quadry office he argues Plato's Myth of the Cave,he closed one of the two windows,the room is half dark shadows on the wall appear but Quadry re-open the window and Marcello's shadow disappears almost as a ghost or illusion.

Note:Being an Actress should be as difficult as being an Astronaut.In this time anybody is a movie star.This film presents a example of how a true Actress should act or move:Dominique Sanda was not like today Movie Actresses(She had personality and sexuality at the same time) and we'll never see someone like her for a long time.
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4/10
A Contrarian's Opinion
halflight224 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As many have noted, the technical aspects of this film --the cinematography in particular-- are quite striking and sometimes beautiful. Unfortunately, the work as a whole isn't as equally developed, especially the script; as a result the viewer is overly-conscious of Bertolucci's Important Message, to the detriment of the whole film. There are many scenes that are visually wonderful; for example, when the antihero Marcello, the Conformist of the title, visits his syphilitic father in a sanitarium. Bertolucci set the scene in the midst of fascist-era monumental architecture for a very surreal effect. However, Marcello's father isn't real at all--he's a mannequin propped up by Bertolucci to represent the Corrupt Old Political Order. The viewer isn't allowed to make his or her judgment about the character--apparently Bertolucci doesn't trust his audience enough-- so the demented father blurts out a confession about torturing people. Bertolucci has a POINT and in case you're too stupid to get it, he'll make it crystal clear. I found that annoying, and a constant problem in the film. Yes, the art direction in the scene is wonderful; but the dialog is so bad the viewer becomes conscious of Bertolucci's manipulations. It's off-putting.

Bertolucci is equally ham-handed when he deals with one of the central metaphors of the film, Plato's analogy of the cave from the Republic. This, supposedly, was the subject matter of Marcello's thesis as a young philosophy student under his once-admired Professor Quadri, whom the older, Fascist Marcello has been assigned to assassinate. It's laughable to suggest that any philosophy student would write a thesis on the cave analogy and have it taken seriously by a professor; yet Professor Quadri spouts nonsense about Marcello's promise as a young student. The cave analogy is the biggest cliché in Western philosophy. For film students, imagine proposing to your doctoral supervisor a thesis on the significance of Rosebud in Citizen Kane, and you get the idea. Bertolucci trots out this tired old nag to beat it to death once again with absolute seriousness. I couldn't help but roll my eyes. If Bertolucci had philosophical pretensions for this film, he should have enough sense to make it believable. This isn't. Bertolucci compounds his mistake by accenting the significance of the cave analogy with visual cues: the opening and closing of shudders. Overall, it signifies a sophomoric philosopher become too-clever film director.

Bertolucci isn't satisfied with just philosophical ambitions for his story--it has to be Freudian, too. Early in the film, the audience sees in flashback a young Marcello, dressed as a dandified schoolboy, pursued by a harrying pack of boys. They trap Marcello and proceed to remove his knickers until they are interrupted by a passing chauffeur, whom we later learn to be Lino. Lino befriends Marcello, they play together in scenic parts of Florence, and then --sigh-- Lino invites Marcello into his apartment to see his gun, in both the literal and, I'm afraid, the metaphoric sense. In case you didn't miss it, this is a PHALLIC SYMBOL. Lino caresses Marcello until Marcello panics and begins firing the gun wildly, hitting Lino in the head and apparently killing him. This is Marcello's CHILDHOOD SEXUAL TRAUMA, which is clearly offered by Bertolucci as an explanation for his compulsive need as an adult to conform. Throughout the rest of the film, Bertolucci drops hints that Marcello is a closeted homosexual. He's sexually awkward with his attractive wife, but he compensates by engaging in casual sexual bragging with other men. He's attracted to Professor Quadri's wife, but the attraction is more fascination with her sexual liberation (she's bisexual) than with her. In several scenes there is noticeable sexual tension between Marcello and Manganiello, his Fascist spy partner, including an extended embrace. Manganiello isn't very bright, so he doesn't get it, but it's hard for the audience to miss. The payoff for all this Freudian subtext comes at the end of the film. Marcello meets his friend Italo in the streets of Rome while both of the them are trying to avoid capture by vigilante anti-Fascist mobs. The two of them pass by an older man and a younger man engaged in a conversation. Marcello overhears the older man obviously trying to seduce the receptive younger man with promises of food. Marcello suddenly recognizes the older man as --surprise!-- the chauffeur/pederast Lino, who didn't die after all. Marcello realizes that he isn't a murderer, and thus all of his attempts to conform to society were unnecessary. In a rage, he loudly denounces Lino as a Fascist, a homosexual and (naturally, according to the blunt psychology of Bertolucci) the murderer of Professor Quadri. Lino flees; Marcello turns his rage toward a panicky Italo, and denounces him as a Fascist, too. Italo is swept away in a celebrating crowd of anti-Fascists, leaving Marcello alone with the younger man.

The final shot of the film pans over the naked backside of the younger man/male prostitute as he reaches from a bed to hand-crank a Victrola playing romantic music. Marcello sits against a nearby fence with his back to the younger man and the camera, then slowly turns head to gaze back at the male prostitute. Fade to black. This plot device is amateurish at best. Hitchcock handled Freudian themes (think Psycho) with a bit of irony and made them more believable and thus enjoyably creepy. In contrast, Bertolucci explores the Freudian theme of Marcello's repressed homosexuality with all the subtlety and seriousness of a first-year university student. As a character, Marcello is forced to conform to a psychological type, and that makes him less believable. Again, despite the visual dexterity of the film, I became very aware of Bertolucci's manipulation of the audience. Sexual repression is BAD and leads to Fascism. Oh, please.

This is a film worth watching because of the beautiful images. Do yourself a favor: ignore the plot and Bertolucci's annoying intellectual pretentiousness. Turn off the subtitles and the dubbing, and you'll spare yourself some disappointment.
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10/10
The Conformist
quinimdb12 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"The Conformist" is about a man desperately trying to conform and be "normal" in fascist Italy under Mussolini, although he is anything but fascist. When he plans to marry a "normal" fascist, ditsy Italian girl and takes a job to arrange an assassination of a previous teacher of his that is now a political dissident, his struggle becomes real. The professor's wife is a representation of him on the other side. He wants to conform, to fit in and be a fascist like everyone else, but can't force himself to do so, so he takes a fascist job in the secret police to suppress anti-fascism. But he begins to have second thoughts, and wants to get out, but can't find a way. The professor's wife on the other hand, is an anti-fascist, but she still feels fear that she may be killed by fascists, and the relationship between her and Marcello's wife, Giulia, is a metaphor for his internal struggle, as well as tensions and thoughts from both fascists and anti- fascists in Italy during the period of Mussolini. The scene at the dance is the penultimate moment of his decision in this, even at one part showing Giulia and the professor's wife, Anna, dancing around him as he frantically looks back and forth at them, as his fascist helper and the non fascist professor sit at opposite sides of the room. Then it seems he will pick the non fascist route when he dances with Anna, but as the next scene shows, it seems he had no choice in the first place. The dreamlike blue hue of the world turns into bleak whites and browns of the snow, as he watches Anna and the professor be murdered in front of him, by his own doing. And speaking of the cinematography, oh my God! This movie is absolutely beautiful and has some of the best use of lighting, color, and space that I have ever seen. Anyway, then it cuts to Marcello's years later, when Mussolini has just been taken down from the throne (by someone more powerful than him), with Giulia and kids, praying with them, showing he has fully conformed to "normal" life like he wanted to. But as he is reminded of the murders of the professor and his wife, he promptly states that that operation was "good for his job", with barely any emotion. He walks outside to see a man that he remembers from his childhood, shown earlier in the movie while he is confessing to a priest. In that scene, he is lead into a room by a young man that "saved" him from bullies, with the promise that he will show him a gun. He does show him a gun, and also begins to molest the child, but suddenly, Marcello stands up and shots wildly around the room before shooting the man, believing he is dead. Back to the present, he sees this man on the steps and immediately begins to call him a fascist and point the finger at him. This is representative of the way that Marcello suddenly begins to deflect the blame of his murders to Mussolini, now that it is normal for everyone to hate Mussolini, and to not hate him would mean to not fit in. However, I believe the final shot reveals that he is not the same person that he was back then, showing Marcello looking from behind bars looking through them at the boy that the man on the stairs was going to molest. This is also symbolic for the fact that he acknowledges he is not the victim anymore, but has become the perpetrator just to fit in, and now he needs to go back to the way he was before, but has already settled into his new, normal life that he has made for himself, showing that he will forever have to live with the guilt of what he has done.

More rambling, but it's hard to form a coherent review of this film and get all of my thoughts on it out there after just one viewing. And that's another thing, this film most definitely warrants subsequent viewings.
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10/10
Brilliant film making
italtrav23 June 2004
Brilliant adaptation (and improvement) of the Moravia work, with the entire structure revolving around Plato's Republic added by Bertolucci. As a meditation on both tyranny and the tyrannized, it is unsurpassed in cinema.

The center of the film explicitly discusses the cave image in the Republic (the topic of Marcello's abortive thesis when he was Quadri's student). But that is not all: a reading of the immediately relevant sections of the Plato will make it obvious that it provided Bertolucci with a stream of imagery for the film. A reading of the entire work will reveal an even greater stream, largely taken from the discussions of tyranny and the tyrannic man (who, like the philosopher, is the same both dreaming and awake). In turn, this all ties in nicely with both Spider's Stratagem and Before the Revolution, among others of his films.
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6/10
The imagery is so powerful, sometimes you forget the story
Polaris_DiB3 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Conformist is probably one of the most famous foreign films of all time; it's pretty much impossible to read anything about Italian, art, or world cinema without Bertolucci and especially this feature being mentioned. It's a masterpiece of stunning photography, deep acting, powerful direction, and has a respectable theme about the analysis of what leads people to become people like fascists.

Made in the late 60s and released in 1970, The Conformist fit in well with the inquisitiveness and anti-authoritarian ideas of the time. Bertolucci adds to the drama by bringing in different levels of analysis, most notably psychoanalytic and homophobic readings of the nature of fascism. In those regard, including the cinematography, this movie is wonderful.

I don't entirely agree that this movie is that well written, however. Many people have stated that sometimes the imagery in this movie is so powerful that the plot and details start to take second place, and it's true... this movie, despite it's strong thematic elements, is mostly visual splendor. Sometimes the magnificent photography doesn't really have much to do with what is going on in the story, and not all that happens in the story is that well done.

Bertolucci is known to add passion and romance to his movies, but his ideas of love, passion, and even obsession never ring true to me. In this case, Marcello falls in love with a one Anna Quadri, and his relationship with her is supposed to represent his chance to break out of his conformist tendencies and for once in his life follow his real desires. Unfortunately, Anna is not only an unlikeable character, but it never even really feels like Marcello really likes (loves) her. The romance between these two people is illustrated by highly unbelievable "sensual" moments that try to be profound, but hardly are even accurate. The scene of Anna's death is a gripping, powerful moment, but still I can't help but feel like it doesn't matter anyway. An unlikeable character is betrayed by a man who is unable to stand up for his desires for someone he doesn't actually like.

Taking on Bertolucci's sensual style is probably like trying to nail a door into its frame with a banana, but having seen quite a few Bertolucci films so far, I've got to say that he's much better with mise-en-scene and cinematography than writing. By the end of The Conformist, when Marcello is even unable to stand up for his previous conformist principles, the imagery still dazzles but the characterization is dead. This highly famous film has the ability to cement itself in one's memory due to the photography, but the characters and story are ultimately forgettable. "The imagery is so powerful, sometimes you forget the story." --PolarisDiB
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6/10
Stunning cinematography, but writing quite disappointing
earinthepocket12 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I heard much about this film, and was looking forward to finally watching it on DVD. First, to give it all justice it deserves, the cinematography is brilliant - the film is full of mesmerising shots, and even though I often feel uneasy when I am made too conscious of cinematography, in this film it worked perfectly, and added much to the story. I also found the acting to be of a very high standard - especially the two female leads, and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

However, like some other reviewers, I was not impressed by the writing and the way the narrative was presented. It felt very disconnected, and sometimes confusing, with rough jumps between scenes, often making characterisation deficient. Perhaps it was a conscious decision aimed to convey Marcello's neurotic state and his need to belong, yet I felt that the camera-work alone did the job pretty well, especially the lighting (e.g. in the scene when we first see Guilia, in a striped dress, with moving light source patterned by the blinds, it reflects Marcello's mixed feelings about her), and the unorthodox angles. Also, I still wander if the narrative is objective, or maybe some of the scenes are Marcello's wishful thinking - while watching, I had a theory that the blue light indicated these, but it didn't quite hold up till the end.

And, next to the ambiguous episodes, there are some annoyingly blatant parts. The metaphor of blind fascists was just too in-your-face; Marcello's constant speeches about his desire to be normal sounded fake, and generally his character development as defined by the script wasn't handled well; the shadows on the wall during the Plato talk - once again, too predictable (still beautiful, though!); and finally, the murder of Prof. Quadri alluded to Caesar's in such an obvious way that I honestly thought he'd say 'You too, Marcello!'. In itself, it is not a bad thing, but I think it ruined the flow and the tension of the scene, creating a very abstracted picture of treason and cowardice - a much simpler idea could have been more effective. However, I have to say that this scene was then redeemed by Dominique Sanda screaming in front of the car window, and the following chase shot with a hand-held camera.

The bit I liked about the plot was the suppressed homosexuality theme, under-stressed but sustained throughout the film with several moments of restrained homoeroticism, and the ending. I also liked the general air of the 30s, and the music - the credits song is currently stuck in my head.

Overall, while definitely a landmark of cinematography, The Conformist suffers from the need of a better script - 6/10.
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3/10
Pretentious... vacant
onepotato216 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Forget Last Year at Marienbad, which is wonderful (and deliberately empty), this is the epitome of the pompous art-film. If you can get past the masterful photography (most don't) you'll find a chilly, inert, over-dramatic, hopelessly literal movie that defies any attempts to think about it. Every scene just underscores the obvious moral pronouncement about conformity that you got in the previous scene. There isn't a single pretty composition that delivers a point; it's the epitome of bowling over viewers with production design. If you want me to believe your movie has ideas, don't make it so superficial.

If you're a viewer who craves ideas, you're going to starve watching this. It's absolutely facile despite continued accusations of depth. The visuals have stuck in my head for two decades, not so for the clumsy, unartful script, or any of its vapid content. Structurally, it's absolute mush; Trintiganant takes so long to execute his orders that any of his conspirators could (and do) eventually just do it themselves. The surface activity is prolonged just long enough to be called a film. This movie adds up to zip - It is nothing to me. I'm with Jonathan Rosenbaum who wrote: "In retrospect, Bernardo Bertolucci's highly influential fifth feature (1969)--ravishing to the eye but less than fully satisfying to the mind--can be regarded as the lamentable turning point in an extremely promising career that ultimately chose stylishness over style and both over content."

I would guide your attention instead to Amarcord which directors have been ripping off for thirty years.
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8/10
beautiful and a great ending
SnoopyStyle27 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Marcello Clerici is in Paris to assassinate his former college professor Luca Quadri on the fascist Italian government's orders. Manganiello is driving him tracking Luca and his wife Anna. The movie has various flashbacks of his life. He is disliked as a child by the other kids. Chauffeur Lino befriends the kid but then makes a sexual advance on him. He take Lino's gun and shoots wildly presumably killing Lino. In another series of flashbacks, he is getting married to Giulia and keeps a lot of his life secret from her. They go to Paris on their honeymoon and befriend the Quadris. After the war, Marcello meets up with Lino once again.

The conformist is a nice way to describe the lead character. He is a man with no convictions. He is damaged and weak. It's hard man to care about but still fascinating. The start of the movie does lack clarity. I would like the flashbacks to not switch back and forth so much in the beginning. Director Bernardo Bertolucci has a great eye and this is filmed beautifully. The ending is so powerful. Marcello had been holding back until he finally explodes. In that one instant, the audience glimpses his true self.
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Visually amazing, great sets and sites and blocking, great light, and a very good story, too!
secondtake12 September 2011
The Conformist (1970)

Well, the reputation this movie has for visual brilliance is well earned. There are whole scenes, lasting just seconds, that are breathtaking not only for the setting (or the sets) but for the way it's composed, a pair of figures in one place, a different scenario (and light) in the background. It's endlessly fascinating and evolving, this play of space and light and figures (actors, yes) moving through it all.

It's also so stylized it becomes a force of its own, above the plot, which has its own kind of surreal fragmentation. So the end result is simply being there, somewhere, and having events twirl around you. This is almost enough. It's magical and moving and simply beautiful. The cinematographer was Vittorio Stararo, in one of his first films. He has worked with the director, Bernardo Bertolucci, on a whole bunch of films ("Last Tango in Paris" might be the most famous for American viewers), and also with other directors for some of their masterpieces: "Apocalypse Now" and "Reds" are just two.

This large, controlling, sometimes self-serving style might not suit everyone, but it does me. And in this case ("The Conformist") it's actually the strongest element. The rest of the movie is really a little bit of a mixed bag. That the end result is pretty fabulous is a testament to making some odd pieces fit, or not fit, perfectly.

What doesn't become clear for some time is the point of the title, which is the moving, significant point of the movie: the main character survives Fascist Italy and then post-War, anti-Fascist Italy, but "conforming," which is to say, he doesn't have particular beliefs, but he knows what will get him to survive. And for him, survival is all that matters, even if it means a watered down life. His professor of many years earlier is just the opposite, and is a kind of hero and de-facto enemy to him. This professor has left Italy in order to fight Mussolini, and he has to face death threats as a consequence.

It's always interesting when the main character, this blow-with-the-wind Marcello, is not especially admirable or even interesting. He is surrounded by some quirky and inevitably interesting people, for sure, but even the two most important of these, his wife and his lover, are kind of symbolic and slightly unaffected types. I mean unaffected by all this terrible stuff going on in the lead up to the War.

And so the end result is we are less affected than you would expect. Or like. Yes, I know this movie gets hugely appreciative reviews, and I think it's for the ambiance, and for the big anti-Fascist message (which is smart and powerful and I agree with). But as a drama between people trying to find themselves, to love the right people, to accomplish a violent political crime, it remains distant, at least most of the time.

Another thing to note: even though the titles are in English, this was and is an Italian movie, with dialog in Italian and a little French. You'll find the sound is awkwardly dubbed--and I mean dubbed in the original language, a looseness of lip-synching that just wouldn't make it in Hollywood (and which you see in other earlier Italian films). Because in fact the dialog is often re-recorded later in movies like this (for superior sound, or because there was too much ambient interference), the synching becomes an issue. Ignore it if you can. It bugged me sometimes.

Overall, yes, this is a kind of masterpiece--flawed, a little bit at arm's length, but stunning, too, and with an important theme.
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5/10
Interesting, Beautiful, But Highly Overrated
Tulsa9014 September 2004
I watched 'Il Conformista' for the first time in many many years last night.

I was too young to know what I was viewing the first time around. I must say that on several levels, this is a good movie. The scenery is great, the subject matter is fascinating, and the characters are mostly interesting. However, I feel this movie suffers from a lack of believability. It is one of those movies that takes a serious dramatic subject matter and reduces it to some kind of bizarre artistic drivel. The whole time you are watching it, you seem to be realize it is just actors acting. You never really connect with the characters or the plot. The whole thing just comes across like a bizarre joke. If you take the same subject matter and plot and make it more dramatic and realistic, you would have really had something. IMHO, way way way overrated and not really worth the money spent making it. Rated 5 or 6 out of 10 at best.
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5/10
Visually stunning, otherwise clumsy with some nasty politics.
I literally signed up because, on first watching this film, I was shocked by the apparent reverence in which it is held. Yes, it is certainly a visually stunning film -one of the most beautiful films I have seen in some time in fact. However there seems little else to recommend it. The main character is a "conformist". How do we know this? Well, because he literally TELLS US in the first couple of minutes. He certainly does not act like it ...and this is pretty much what you can expect for all of the themes explored in the film -every unconvincing and unsubtle point will be rammed home ham-handedly. Certainly there is no convincing portrayal of the anxiety which drives the desire to conform, and the relationship between this anxiety and fascism -something which would have been a very worthy subject matter. On the contrary the protagonists behavior is on the contrary quite odd rather than conformist. A real missed opportunity here. Characterization, in so far as it exists, is crude and didactic (this goes for all characters, not just the protagonist). There are a number of weird themes, visual sequences and actions by characters throughout, which I can only assume is a crude attempt to qualify the film as "arty", as well as some utterly comical pseudo-intellectualism (bringing to mind something like "first year philosophy students at lunch in the quad"). I could go on in some detail, but hey, in the present case what's the point???

The film concludes with a rather nasty apologist message, the apparent "moral" of the film, equating fascism and anti-fascism as two sides of the same coin. This message is hammered home repeatedly and crudely in the final minutes so as to make sure we don't miss the point. Firstly, I got it the first time -the final scene (where the protagonist denounces two guys as fascists) was both unnecessary and awkwardly unsubtle. Secondly, I just don't buy it -fascism and anti-fascism are just not the same thing. All in all "Il Conformista" left a very bad taste in my mouth.

I'm not a liberal-arts type guy, and I know very little about Italian history, so maybe it's me that's just to dumb to "get it"? I don't think so, but I figure even if this was the case that would clearly make the film unsuccessful as a piece of communication. I reckon turn the subtitles off (or mute it if you speak Italian) and you could maybe just enjoy the visual spectacle .

5/10 with the subtitles off.
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10/10
a survivor
RanchoTuVu3 October 2017
In 1938 fascist Italy a newly married man takes his bride on a honeymoon to Paris. He's the son of intellectuals, his father is in an insane asylum, while his bride is middle class bourgeois. The situation sums up his predicament, that he's a bit of a sensitive intellectual who is caught up in Mussolini's violent political culture with a pretty new bride who seems oblivious to it all. It appears he joins the Fascists to get ahead in society but his allegiance is put to the test after he's given the assignment to assassinate on of his ex- professors, a disaffected intellectual who moved to Paris to escape the fascists. Thus the honeymoon takes a turn to the ominous side. The story in Paris unfolds, leading to the event taking place on a snowy winter afternoon in a forest. His target and the target's wife suspected him all along but befriended him, with the ex-prof's wife even seducing him. Thus the title refers to those who lived under fascism without necessarily embracing it, merely going along with the current in order to try to succeed within a brutal system and not be arrested, with the system testing this individual's commitment to the cause. Mussolini is overthrown towards the end of the film, and the protagonist leaves his apartment to watch the regime's fall and try to switch over to the non-fascists who comb the streets looking for collaborators to execute. Bertolucci explores Italy's fascist past by portraying how it played out with a classic cowardly non- protagonist who fails to rise to the occasion.
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