Return of “The Conformer” by Bernardo Bertolucci

Yvonne Sanson, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Stefania Sandrelli in The Conformist.

Yvonne Sanson, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Stefania Sandrelli compliant.
Photo: Keanu Lorber

All great movies, at some point, ask the question: who am I? The greatest films go beyond asking this question on a narrative level. Through their form, they embody the question of identity. And what makes Bernardo Bertolucci compliant (1970) The greatest of films is not only its stunning and mythical beauty, but its maze-like journey into the mind of its protagonist—and by extension, the mind of its creator.

compliant Just re-released in a gorgeous new 4K restoration, it’s definitely cause for celebration since it’s one of the most magical pictures ever. (She’s currently playing New York Film Forum, and will soon travel across the country). There is no real debate about Bertolucci’s achievement; This is one of those familiar titles whose place in history is given at this point. You can see its effect in The Godfather series, in taxi driverin various films such as Mishima: A Life in Four SeasonsAnd Dick TracyAnd Call me by your nameAnd ignorant —and yet it’s still as stunning and revolutionary as it was upon original release, in part because few filmmakers nowadays are willing to embrace the sensual and the wild at the same time. You never quite know what you’re supposed to feel at any given moment compliantBecause he asks you to feel it all.

It’s also one of those pieces that always seem to speak to an ever-changing present. Based on Alberto Moravia’s 1947 novel, the film follows Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who joins Mussolini’s Fascists not out of loyalty or ambition, but simply because he wants to fit in. Marcelo seeks to keep his feelings and desires at bay. . At one point, on the eve of his very middle-class wedding (to the lively and naïve Giulia, played in quasar-like lighting by Stefania Sandrelli), a priest confesses to a lesbian encounter he had in his youth with a driver — a dreamlike memory that alternates surreal and disturbing between harassment and seduction, and ending with young Marcelo shooting the driver dead. Even now, years later, Marcelo doesn’t seem to know how he feels about this event. When he tells it, we see horror, sadness, confusion, and an angry dance on his face.

This is in many ways the main problem of the character. Time and time again, Bertolucci offers this guy running from anything that isn’t absolute, binary, or straight (in every sense of the word). He seeks comfort in all things unified. The various fascist functionaries he meets along the way – along with the stately, colorless architecture in which Bertolucci depicts them – are all affected and cartoonish, each playing on a different kind of movie cliché. Trintignant, one of the most masterful actors of his generation, plays Marcello as if he were an extraordinarily solid puppet, badly wounded, but occasionally exploding in small bursts of movement—a sarcastic nod, perhaps, or a jerky trot-break. When he moves, walks or runs in sharp, straight lines, a man fears he may stray too far in any undesirable direction.

The narrative idea inspired by Bertolucci here—and which he always attributed to his editor, Franco Arcali—is to tell the Moravian’s fairly straightforward but psychologically sharp story through a series of jump flashbacks both distant and recent. Technically, the movie essentially takes place over the course of a single car trip in France, where Marcelo and his fascist bodyguard/chauffeur/handler (Gaston Mochin) go out early one morning to try to catch a car carrying Luca Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), a professor. Marcello’s collectors, an old Marxist who arrives in Paris to assassinate him, and Quadri’s attractive young wife, Anna (Dominique Sanda), with whom Marcello falls in love (and who in turn falls in love with Julia). While driving, one flashback opens to a different one, and then they both feed off of each other to create twisted connections in the hero’s mind. (The director had been in psychoanalysis for years when he did it compliant(Some have pointed out that the film has the loose structure of a therapy session).

Bertolucci gets rid of most of the stylistic devices one would normally use to denote leaps in time—dissolving, voiceover, voice fading, title cards, etc.—so that sometimes we wind up inside a memory without immediately realizing it. He slides into Marcelo’s childhood memories, cuts back and forth between past and present, and then suddenly switches to completely different memories, another time. This has a curious and subliminal effect: we experience a linearly non-linear story, as Marcelo projects his desires, fears, and guilt onto the others in his life. It’s a bold choice, and it confused and amazed me when I first saw it compliant in adolescence. (I wrote a bit about that experience here.)

The film seems to require a number of scenes, but it is absolutely gorgeous, making for a cinema experience so magical that you desperately need it. You want to see her again. You can lose yourself in entire sequences, with their vibrant colors, deep shadows, and intoxicating rhythms. (Paul Schrader, whose images bear distinct echoes of compliantDraw once A straight line from Bertolucci to MTV’s Miami Vice Aesthetic. It was 1993, and he didn’t mean it as praise – but his fundamental analysis wasn’t wrong.)

compliant It works continuously on both the narrative and symbolic levels. It’s legendary dance sequence, where Julia and Anna tango together in a Parisian Chinese restaurant before leading the crowd in a line gathering strength and eventually encircling Clerici, sexy, funny, moving, liberating, claustrophobic, sinister. It means six different things at six different points, slipping between meanings and moods. and the The height of brutal violence (also famous) It looks more like an external attack than an internal one. Marcello kills others in an effort to kill aspects of himself – until the very end in which he exposes his crimes to an old friend who has been literally swept away by the forces of history – as stark a representation as you can imagine of the way the Italian bourgeoisie extricated itself from the sins of fascism in the aftermath of World War II.

No different Citizen KaneAnd compliant It served as a compendium of the cinematic techniques that came before it, and also indicated the way forward. Bertolucci was a cinephile, as knowledgeable about American genre films as he was with silent and post-war films, not to mention his Italian predecessors and contemporaries like Luchino Visconti and Michelangelo Antonioni. In collaboration with his cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (who would eventually be claimed by the likes of Warren Beatty and Francis Ford Coppola, two directors who have noted compliant over and over in their work), he has combined all of these elements into a film that moves from dreamlike logic to lush melodrama to eerie foreboding and back again.

Like many in his generation, Bertolucci loved the French New Wave, and idolized Jean-Luc Godard. compliant It bears many echoes of Godard’s stab at political sensationalism, little soldier (itself a misunderstood masterpiece), including a line attributed to Professor Quadri: “The time for thinking is over. Now the time for action begins.” Bertolucci had no Godard’s penchant for parody or his uncanny self-awareness. Although he was at least as politically committed as Godard (and perhaps more so, since he was a de facto card-carrying member of the Italian Communist Party, and within a few years would unabashedly craft a Marxist epic). 1900), still believes in what we might call “movie magic”. At a time when Godard was moving toward more stridently anti-narrative didactic cinema, Bertolucci embraced suspense, emotion, and spectacle—a style of filmmaking that Godard himself would dismiss as fascist at the time. This was a betrayal of some kind. But in doing so, Bertolucci connected the art cinema of the 1960s with what would become the well-made popular drama of the 1970s. That’s why the Americans called the sausage movie loved it so much.

To achieve all this, he had to “kill” Godard. Thus, after giving Quadri one of Godard’s lines, he also gave him Godard’s phone number (Is that true) – suggesting a symbolic assassination. Bertolucci always rebelled against the father figures in his work, though he never completely expelled any of their influences; There are still plenty of Goddardian touches in his work throughout his career. This conflict in many ways forces compliantUniquely anxious mood. It is a picture that reaches simultaneously into the past and the future, and is very eclectic and completely original. It’s one of the most pivotal and influential films of all time, and yet it’s still like nothing you’ve seen before.

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