English Title: The Conformist
Original Title: Il conformista
Country: Italy, France, West Germany
Language: Italian, French
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Writers: Alberto Moravia, Bernardo Bertolucci
Music: Georges Delerue
Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro
Bertolucci is another wunderkind in the industry, at the age of 30, his fourth feature film, THE CONFORMIST has been proved to be a timeless classic, which I feel privileged to watch it now for the very first time.
Tilting camera angle, impeccable shots paralleling the moving train and zooming in from the external side of the window, sensual hues, cubist buildings, punctilious light and shade deployment (Professor Quadri, the hunchbacked man being introduced by his silhouette), fluid ballroom dancing sequences, the bleak and cold-hearted manslaughter in a wintry woodland, all emerge as consecutive surprises and gusto along its non-linear narrative.
Marcello (Trintignant), a newly-recruited fascist member in Rome, is assigned for an assassination of his old professor Quadri (Tarascio), who dwells in Paris now with her young wife Anna (Sanda), the film hops back and forth episodically in recounting the newly-wed Marcello’s matrimony life with Giulia (Sandrelli), a petit bourgeois trophy wife; their honeymoon to Paris with a clandestine aim to carry out the task until Marcello compellingly falls for Anna; meanwhile Bertolucci allocates episodes to sort out Marcello’s personal lives, his attachment with his amicable blind friend Italo (Quaglio), his drug-addicted mother (Milly) and lunatic father (Addobbati); but underneath his placid and gentile veneer, lies an unfading quandary, stems from his encounter with a pedophile (Clémenti) in his childhood and his latent homosexuality which pulses him to a perpetual and professed seeking of normalcy.
Trintignant is exceedingly under-appreciated in his sophisticated and self-constrained portrayal of a man put in contradiction with almost anything around him, perfectly tallies with the political message of the film, a stooge, put-upon in order to rectify his own weakness, indiscriminately clutches any straw to obey conformity, while in the end, a sense of loss and disparagement is his own bitter fruit. Sanda and Sandrelli are stunning in their own distinctive beauties, the former is resolute, swinging both ways and emanating the like-a-moth-to-a-flame fatalism; the latter imbues a more traditional feminine allure with little clue about what’s in her husband’s mind.
Also it is noteworthy to give credit to Georges Delerue, who produced a spellbound score underlining the varying tenors of Marcello’s state of mind. THE CONFORMIST is a pièce de résistance with its idiosyncratic aesthetic charisma to crown Bertolucci as the most important auteur in Italian cinema after his illustrious progenitors!