The Conformist

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Italy-France-W. Germany| 1969. English subtitles. Colour. 108 min.

Bernardo Bertolucci was one of the key young directors to emerge in the 1960s. Influenced by Pasolini and Godard, he soon discovered his own voice and 1970 saw the release of two striking features in The Spider’s Stratagem and The Conformist. Both are highly cinematic literary adaptations, with The Conformist providing a spectacular display of Bertolucci’s command of every aspect of the medium. A subtle anatomy of Italy’s fascist past, the film’s chief protagonist (brilliantly played by the French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant) is a man so desperate to prove his normality that he becomes a state assassin, travelling to Paris on his honeymoon to murder his old professor. Juggling past and present with the same bravura flourish as Welles in Citizen Kane, Bertolucci conjures a dazzling historical and personal perspective to show how the search for normality ends in the inevitable discovery that there is no such thing.

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