fri 21/06/2024

DVD: The Conformist | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: The Conformist

DVD: The Conformist

Bertolucci's masterly evocation of the inner world of fascism

Jean-Louis Trintignant at Marcello Clerici in "The Conformist"

Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist, originally released in 1970, is without doubt his masterpiece and marks the Italian director’s move from experimental art-house movies to larger scale-studio production. The film is stunningly beautiful, each frame carefully composed in terms of colour and form, and every camera movement contributing to mood and story rather than being used for effect.

Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography broke new ground and inspired many other great film makers, not least Coppola who hired him for Apocalypse Now.

In a series of seamlessly handled flashbacks, the film tells the story of Marcello Clerici, a bourgeois everyman, who becomes a fascist assassin out of a need to conform rather than political passion. In one of his most commanding roles, Jean-Louis Trintignant expresses perfectly the man’s paradoxical mix of weakness and brutality. He is unable to properly engage with his attractive but slightly vacuous wife played with great vitality by Stefania Sandrelli while being drawn to Anna (a haunting performance from Dominique Sanda), the sexually and emotionally ambiguous wife of Professor Quadri, the anti-fascist whom Clerici has been sent to kill.  

The film uses space and the effect of light upon it with a fluency that echoes classics such as Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, demonstrating that the cool and elegant lines of art deco were a reflection of the cultural era that produced fascism: a coldness which reduces the individual to an almost inhuman alienation that makes evil banal and in some perverse way desirable.

This new dual format DVD and Blu-ray edition, in an HD restoration supervised by Vittorio Storaro, comes an excellent audio commentary from the Italian cultural studies expert David Forgacs and the Blu-ray version includes a feature length documentary “Bernardo Bertolucci: Reflections on Cinema” with on-set archive material and interviews.

The film is stunningly beautiful, each frame carefully composed in terms of colour and form


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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