Friday, December 3, 2010

Il Conformista (1970)

Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 movie, The Conformist, is like going to a museum and watching the paintings of stylish imaginations, delightful representations. The movie itself has a large palette of themes from love to murder; sexuality to morality; melancholy to psychological disorder; loyalty to violence; lesbianism to homosexuality...
The shots of Il Conformista is a collective-artistic work of the director Bertolucci and the cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The camera angles, storytelling through diaphragm changes during the shot, all the colors, décor, costumes...everything is a deliberately designed piece of art in Il Conformista.
We watch a young Italian man, right before the fall of fascist Mussolini regime, devoted to the fascist party. He is charged with an assassination of a professor and he is ambitious to fulfill this mission. Through the flashbacks in the movie, we learn the dark stories of his past. We watch his trials to seem as a normal citizen and as a healthy young man, as if he loves, as if he feels a commitment to his beliefs, to the party, to his mission... However, the images of his past hunts him down through his story and as it is in the name of the movie, he conforms to the situation and to his past...
The effects of the end of a political regime (the fascist government) can be seen at the confusions in human lives and at the psychology of people.
Jean-Louis Trintignant performs the main character. I've seen him in a 1966 movie, Un Homme et Une Femme, directed by Claude Lelouch (you can find the movie review of Un Homme et Une Femme in my previous posts). When you see the difference between the character in that movie and in Il Conformista, you become certain that Trintignant is a brilliant actor!
After watching the movie, while I was reading, I learned that both Bertolucci and Storaro (cinematographer) were 29 years old at the shooting time of the movie. However, the movie seems much of an experienced artist work to tell the truth. The use of colors and camera angles are PERFECT.
The movie doesn't disobey the popular story concept of its era (1960s-70s), as it can be seen in all European filmography of that time. This period movies were generally one main man centered gangster-political movies and the main guys were usually in trouble, guilty and center of attraction of women... Jean-Claude Brialy's, Jean-Paul Belmondo's became famous during these years.
You can also notice Godard New Wave effects in the movie. There are no jump cuts maybe, but there are horizontally divided shots where there is movement and storytelling in both halves of the screen.
However, Il Conformista goes one step further than his period of movies by its stunning visual beauty; light and shadow harmony, colors, angles, focus adjustments; and at the end, you want to put these illusions into frames and hang on your wall :)

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