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THE CONFORMIST

Director: BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI

ITALY • 1970 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 111 MIN


Based on Alberto Moravia’s novel and set in the late 1930s, this incredibly stylish 1970 film by Bernardo Bertolucci works as both a gripping psychological thriller and a tantalising exploration of Italy’s Fascist past. The central character, Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant), is so eager to be ‘normal’ that he marries the empty-headed Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli) and volunteers to spy on his former philosophy professor, Quadri (Enzo Tarascio), an anti-fascist now exiled in Paris. Combining his honeymoon trip with the spying mission, the already confused Clerici proves incapable of taking decisive action and finds himself in a quandary when ordered to murder the professor.

The hero’s search for ‘normality’ is seen from the start as a comically pointless quest, but what makes The Conformist a masterpiece is the artistry with which Bertolucci expresses his ideas in visual terms: his use of camera movement, lighting, colour, design and composition is breathtakingly beautiful and a marvel to behold. No surprise, then, that Scorsese and Coppola borrowed so much from The Conformist in their best work of the ’70s. — Peter Walsh.

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