I just watched Bertolucci's The Conformist at the Civic theatre.
This was a special screening of a beautifully restored print of the 1970 film.
I saw this in Wellington in the early 1970's and was gobsmacked by it then. After 40 plus years it's still powerful and frankly leaves for dead the expensive dross that purports to be good cinema nowadays.
On every level this film is superior to modern day offerings:
- Cinematography is stunning with artistically crafted shots that have been copied by film makers, TV commercial makers, music video makers and artists over the last 40 years.
- Surreal chase and kill sequences that have been copied in TV programmes and films from the 007 franchise through The Sopranos and The Bourne films.
- A complex and bewildering psychological investigation of the principal character that by far usurps anything that David Lynch has done and has triggered a whole lot of TV dramas.
The film investigates the need of the principal character Clarici, a weak and sexually ambiguous character to go with the flow amidst a time of extremism in Italian politics (1930's and 1940's).
Basically he conforms to whatever the prevailing social and political climate demands of him.
To this end Moravia's novel and Bertolucci's adaptation is just as relevant today. We all go with the flow by and large.
It reminded me of the frightening truth in Jonathon Littels book The Kindly Ones when the principal character Max Aue , a murderer and senior member of the Einzgruppen, the Nazi death squad said "I am a man like other men, I am a man like you".
LIKE PICKING SCABS
At the closing of the film Clarici silently looks back at the audience as if to say "what would you have done?"
We just don't get stuff like this nowadays.