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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Normal
Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant) wants to be "normal," lead a normal life with a petite bourgeoisie wife: "She's all bed and kitchen" (Stephania Sandrelli) and all the accoutrements that that life brings with it: home, children, and a good job. But this is 1938 Italy and the ultimate in normalcy is being a fascist and so Marcello gets a job in a Fascist investigation...
Published on 29 May 2007 by MICHAEL ACUNA

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful film, woeful blu-ray
The film is beyond superb. Personally I place on a short list of the very best films ever made. Cited by the great Andrei Tarkovsky as a masterpiece of political cinema (though he was considerably less complimentary about Bertolucci's next film, Last Tango in Paris), this is an invaluable piece of art which deserves to be seen by anyone and everyone with the capacity to...
Published on 10 Jan 2008 by James the King


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Normal, 29 May 2007
By 
MICHAEL ACUNA (Southern California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant) wants to be "normal," lead a normal life with a petite bourgeoisie wife: "She's all bed and kitchen" (Stephania Sandrelli) and all the accoutrements that that life brings with it: home, children, and a good job. But this is 1938 Italy and the ultimate in normalcy is being a fascist and so Marcello gets a job in a Fascist investigation bureau. His job is to find and assassinate any and all anti-fascists. At the age of 34, Marcello can see the light at the end of the tunnel that will take his life to what he considers normal: a mantra that he repeats over and over throughout director Bernardo Bertolucci's very fine film.

Marcello has spent his life in hiding from both his past as well as his present. He is wound up tightly, quiet, solemn, serious and seemingly not aware of the life that swirls around him. But whereas some people consciously hide yet are always aware of what surrounds them, Marcello walks around with blinkers on: blinkers that obfuscate almost every thing except his fantasy yellow brick road to Normal. What's particularly tragic about Marcello is that he doesn't understand that the concept of normalcy is a slippery slope, veritably indefinable and wholly unreachable.

There are only a handful of movies which feature a scene so unusual, so beautiful or perverse that it lingers in the mind of anyone who witnesses it. "The Conformist" contains such a scene: the iconic tango, dripping with over-the-top, blatant homosexual heat as performed by Stephania Sandrelli and Dominique Sanda in a Paris nightclub while the other dancers clear the floor, drop their jaws and marvel at the sensuality of it all. More importantly, Marcello stares at his wife, eyes filled with jealousy. But this is not a jealousy born from desire of her but jealousy born from Sandrelli's utter flamboyance and rigorous throwing off of any taboos about dancing with a woman (Sanda) who obviously wants her.

Though directed with precision and gorgeously photographed by the master Vittorio Storaro, the psychology of Marcello's desperate need to subjugate himself emotionally and physically to the iron hand of fascism is facile and naive at best and murky at its worst: but also remember that the source material by Alberto Moravia is over 40 years old and this film dates from 1970: different times, different thinking. This only slightly mars Bertolucci's achievement here. As it is, "The Conformist" is a serious, thought-provoking, emotionally open and available film filled with amazing images and bursting with Life.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bertolucci's vision of fascist peer pressure, 26 Mar 2007
By 
olofpalme63 (auf der flucht!) - See all my reviews
So desperate is Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant who also starred as a hit-man in "The Outside Man") to lead a normal life after he suffers through the psychological trauma of a sexual confrontation with the family chauffeur (played by the bizarre Pierre Clementi) when he was a child. As an adult he eventually succumbs to the political upheavals of Hitler's Nazi machine during the 1930's and conforms to Prime Minister Mussolini's fascist regime of Italy. Working as an agent for the government he's assigned a mission to assassinate a college professor in Paris France whom Mussolini believes to be a threat to the fascist party. The murder is to take place while he's honeymooning with his newly wedded wife played to perfection by the lovely and charming Stefania Sandrelli (who starred in the contoversial film "Desideria" and Bertolucci's "Partner"), who also manages to steal every scene she's in.

While ploting the assassination in Paris he encounters a problem by falling in love with the professor's wife (Dominque Sanda, who also starred in Bertolucci's "1900"). Matters are further complicated not only by his attraction to the professor's wife, but his marriage as well as his (manufactured) loyalty to the fascist regime. The eventual ending indicates what the title is and what he's always been throughout his life. Lavishly shot by the brilliant Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now & Last Tango In Paris), this is considered Bernardo (The Spider's Stratagem & The Last Emporer) Bertolucci's "breakthrough" film and perhaps his greatest acheivement in cinema as he was also nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay. This mesmerizing look at the social values of World War II Italy is not to be missed and remains one of the all-time great films of the 70's.

olofpalme63
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best., 8 Dec 2008
By 
Mr. L. Price "szamanka" (London.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Bertolucci's 'The Conformist' is a masterpiece. It occupies my top 2 movies (alongside 'Andrei Rublev' by Tarkovsky), and I'm sure will remain there forever. It's hard to explain in words what makes this film so great; the cinematography is unbelievable, the way the film simultaneously thrills you, and gets across so many ideas in it's modest running time. The characters, from Trintignant's seductive, yet hateful lead, to the two gorgeous leading ladies, down to 'Milano Calibro 9's Gastone Moschin as the lizard-like assassin, even Pierre Clementi as the child molesting Chauffeur, makes more of an impact in one scene, than most of today's lead actors do in their entire careers. It's a real shame that paramount can't bring themselves to release this film in the UK on DVD, because this film should be shown to everybody on earth, repeatedly...
Another fascinating thing (not mentioned in other reviews here), is the presence of many actors and crew who can be found on many Italian exploitation efforts of the early 70s, most notably Aldo Lado, who is the first AD on this, but also is one of the best directors of the Giallo genre ('Short Night Of The Glass Dolls', 'Who Saw her Die?' etc etc), a front runner with Argento and Martino.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly Depiction of Fascism, 30 Nov 2011
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Bernardo Bertolucci's 1970 depiction of Italian fascism in The Conformist is both beautiful to look at and, at the same time, a brutally cold portrayal of the evil at the heart of such a regime. Bertolucci's direction, coupled with Vittorio Storaro's masterly photography, makes this film, for me, one of the most visually stylish ever made.

Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the central character Marcello Clerici, who, following childhood experiences involving sexual molestation and murder, finds himself drawn into the relative security and conformity of the fascist party. Bertolucci explores themes of sexual and religious repression as Marcello marries the beautiful Giulia (played by the stunning Stefania Sandrelli), and is forced to attend confession in order to secure the permission of Giulia's parents for the marriage. Marcello's lack of parental harmony is illustrated via his visits to his drug-addled mother at her villa and his father who has been committed to an insane asylum. The main narrative of the film involves Marcello being tasked by the party to murder his old friend and teacher, Professor Quadri, who is an outspoken anti-fascist. In his dealings with Quadri, Marcello falls in love with his wife Anna (played by Dominique Sanda), a pursuit which ends in tragedy as Quadri is assassinated by Marcello's fascist cohorts.

There are many visually stunning set pieces throughout the film, notably those of Marcello's initial seduction of Giulia (amidst the remarkable chiaroscuro produced by sunlit blinds) and Marcello's visits to the bleak and austere buildings of the fascist party and his father's asylum.

The film also concludes with two magnificent sequences. The first involves Professor Quadri's assassination via multiple stabbings by a gang of fascist thugs, as his wife Anna looks on. Anna runs to the car in which Marcello is watching the massacre, only to be ignored by him, as she, in turn, runs to her grisly death. The second, and most telling comment on the film's principal theme, is the final sequence where, some years later as Mussolini's regime is crumbling, Marcello happens upon a long-time friend (and fascist sympathiser) and subsequently comes across his childhood abuser (Lino). Marcello has no compunction in publically denouncing both as fascist sympathisers.

A superb film which benefits from repeat viewings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing film by Bertolucci, 8 July 2012
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Conformist (1970) (DVD)
For my money Bertolucci's very best film. It combines many his
recurring themes; politics (especially fascism in Italy and it's
effects), sexuality and identity, the need to belong, the struggle to
be an individual.

The film perfectly walks a knife's edge between realism and surrealism,
supported by Vitorio Storraro's breathtaking and unique cinematography.

The film works brilliantly on a simple realist level. A sort of
political thriller and character study (much like Coppola's 'The
Conversation') we follow an agent of Mussolini's secret police (a great
performance by Jean-Louis Trintignant, even dubbed into Italian) as
he's sent to assassinate one of his old professors, now teaching in
exile in Paris. On that level the film is filled with odd twists and
turns as Marcello tries to carry out his mission.

But there's also something larger and more mysterious being explored
here, from the constant not-quite-realistic images, to Marcello's
occasionally very odd (and sometimes funny) behavior, to the flashbacks
to an early homosexual encounter, we are trapped, with the character,
in a sort of Kafkaesque dream world. It's as if somehow Bertolluci has
pulled off the very neat trick of making a film that' simultaneously
objective and subjective, a dream and a reality, surreal and
hyper-real. And he makes the two dance together to create a bigger
whole.

My only tiny quibble;, a few moments seem a little too on the nose in
their symbolism for a film of such subtlety, but that's a tiny
complaint about a great film.

This DVD is not quite up to the visual level of the newer blu-ray, but is
certainly quite acceptable if you don't have a blu-ray player.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without action there is no identity, 17 Oct 2010
By 
technoguy "jack" (Rugby) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Fascism,existentialist-style,with monologues,introspection and inactive brooding.Marcello's wife is the conformist,obedient to dictates of church and state,which is why Marcello marries her,and she offsets his shame at his mad father,addicted mother.Marcello struggles with abnormal tendencies,having shot Lino,a homosexual chauffeur when he was a teenager.He is uneasy with abnormality.The need for normality drives him to conform to society's mores,embrace fascism,marry a mediocre conventional,sensual woman.Safety in the herd,fear of being different,makes Marcello join a movement given to abnormality,and that asks him to repeat the action he ran away from:murder.The violent and selfish tendencies Marcel sees in himself are absorbed by a philosophy that condones them.We identify with him because Moravia depicts a complex person,with all his strengths and weaknesses,how easy it was to follow the political fashion.

However, Marcello doesn't do what he thinks is right but what other people think is right due to his ambivalent sexuality(also most of the characters fall in love with people who do not return their love).He fears his natural impulses,nearly giving in only to realize how dangerous it is.The normality that he had sought was entirely made up of abnormalities,he comes to realize.The hidden becomes revealed.He is shadowed everywhere by Manganiello,an agent with experience of spying and killing.He brings him his orders,checks on his progress,tells him to stop procrastinating and act."Action must be swift and decisive",he says,yet is resigned to Marcello's inability to act,pondering each situation excessively.This is conveyed in his confession to a priest,his conversation with a blind fascist mentor,showing the real tension beneath the external subject matter.

The noir elements are conveyed by the flash-back,chronology-chopping structure,the out-of-kilter camera angles framing the anti-hero,the cinematography of blue,red and yellow,showing the entirely cinematic perplexity and wonder.The rich colours,chiaroscuros,the rigid lines of fascist architecture set the tone of authoritarian hierarchy.Bertolucci,weaned from Godard's political and aesthetic radicalism,finds here his own style in which complex political and psychological exploration is presented through elegant camerawork. In The Conformist, the Parisian phone number of the betrayed professor is that of Jean-Luc Godard,a father figure he symbolically kills off. The past plays out while Clerici rides in his car, chatting with his fascist bodyguard(even the flashbacks themselves have flashbacks and keep us unsettled) the film is able to concentrate our attention on the present of decision-making whose results Bertolucci identifies with Fascism itself. The journey is really one agonizing process of choice - will Marcello intervene to save the life of his beloved, or will he watch her murder in complicitous passivity?The heroic ethos turns cowardly for Marcello on the road to Savoy.

The film has an excellent musical score,great acting from Trintignant as Marcello, Stefania Sandrelli as Giulia, Dominique Sanda(Lina) as the bisexual Professor's wife, and Gastone Moschin's Blackshirt;uses the brilliant cinematographer,Vittorio Storaro and the design of the film moves from highly ordered, spatial architecture, precise tracking shots,highly controlled movements by the actors,with the latter part of the film draped in shadows or brightly lit by harsh lights,to create a sense of violent social turmoil,chaos,disintegration with Il Duce's fall,odd lighting effects,collapsing symbols of fascism's fall,disorderly protest,the return of the suppressed into full view for the protagonist in this existential nightmare of image and dialogue.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE MASTERPIECE, 27 Feb 2012
By 
MAY BE THE BEST BERTOLUCCI'S MOVIE FINALLY ON BLU-RAY. THE RESTORED EDITION IS REALLY BEAUTIFUL. THE CINEMATOGRAPHY BY STORARO IS ASTONISHING. J.L.TRINTIGNANT, STEFANIA SANDRELLI AND IN PARTICULAR DOMINIQUE SANDA ARE VERY VERY GOOD. ONE OF THE BEST ITALIAN MOVIE OF '70.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mundanity of Fascism Exposed, 21 Jan 2013
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Conformist [DVD] (DVD)
Intriguing, similar to Night Porter in feel, the 70's sigh as Fascism is explored within a sexual thrill, the master slave dialectic or the Stockholm Syndrome. However this takes the PTSD of killing and brings it to the boiling over point.

Fascism as a mundane act, why do people denounce each other? Not because they believe in the creed but because they want the money. The creed failed to impose itself on the thoughts, only operating as a lip service, similar to East Germany. When the people were liberated, they stood back and then actively forgot the years of madness.

Here the Director has delivered a glance backwards into the 40 years previously, or is it 30 years? We see an Italian secret service man tasked with killing a dissident. In between we watch him and his comrades motivation hover and fluctuate as he seduces his victims wife, makes friends with the man he is due to kill. Within the weave are moments of erotic seduction without ever becoming full frontal assaults. The passion forms the basis of the film, the sexual magnetism of all the characters.

Flawless in its description and attention to period detail, the acting is tort and tense throughout. This secret service film is no James Bond, it is full of botches, recriminations, feelings of disgust along with the sex. Much more truthful to the death of thousands of people killed in this era.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing film by Bertolucci, 8 July 2012
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
For my money Bertolucci's very best film. It combines many his
recurring themes; politics (especially fascism in Italy and it's
effects), sexuality and identity, the need to belong, the struggle to
be an individual.

The film perfectly walks a knife's edge between realism and surrealism,
supported by Vitorio Storraro's breathtaking and unique cinematography.

The film works brilliantly on a simple realist level. A sort of
political thriller and character study (much like Coppola's 'The
Conversation') we follow an agent of Mussolini's secret police (a great
performance by Jean-Louis Trintignant, even dubbed into Italian) as
he's sent to assassinate one of his old professors, now teaching in
exile in Paris. On that level the film is filled with odd twists and
turns as Marcello tries to carry out his mission.

But there's also something larger and more mysterious being explored
here, from the constant not-quite-realistic images, to Marcello's
occasionally very odd (and sometimes funny) behavior, to the flashbacks
to an early homosexual encounter, we are trapped, with the character,
in a sort of Kafkaesque dream world. It's as if somehow Bertolluci has
pulled off the very neat trick of making a film that' simultaneously
objective and subjective, a dream and a reality, surreal and
hyper-real. And he makes the two dance together to create a bigger
whole.

My only tiny quibble;, a few moments seem a little too on the nose in
their symbolism for a film of such subtlety, but that's a tiny
complaint about a great film.

The DVD is a quite decent transfer, if not quite up to the level of the new
Arrow blu-ray.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He likes people similar to himself and does not trust those who are different., 17 April 2010
By 
A. Willard (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Set in the 1930's this tells the story of an ambitious Italian who, in order to gain acceptance and advancement in the Fascist party, agrees to go to Paris in order to help entrap his former University professor, now a prominent anti-Fascist.

I've got a couple of problems with this film. Marcello's `motivation' for one seems a little simplistic; shame over his sexuality and over what he might have done means that he feels he mustn't stand out, he must conform, and that means marrying a woman he doesn't love and espousing a political philosophy he doesn't believe in. Hmm. Also the politics and symbolism are rather clunky and heavy-handed (not for the first or last time in Bertolucci's films). Of course you must make allowances; this film was made in 1970 when the events portrayed were closer in time than the film is to us now. Politics has always, (well over the last 100 years anyway), been a lot more serious (and dangerous) in mainland Europe than for us in the dear old UK, where it doesn't really matter who you vote for as you always get the same thing.

Problems aside this is a great film. Vittorio Storaro's photography is utterly beautiful and there are numerous `great' scenes. Marcello's visit to his father in the sanitorium, the blind-people's party, Anna and Guilia's dance and, of course, the assassination in the woods. The performances are superb; J-L Trintignant is wonderful in the main role, you get the feeling he came out of the womb with a look of weary existential dread on his face. He gets fine support from Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin and Enzo Tarascio.; and then there's Dominique Sanda who, just to be base for a moment, is a right sort. Only a Frenchwoman could make leaning up against a doorway, smoking a fag, dressed in a man's shirt and trousers, just about the sexiest thing you've ever seen.

Along with `The Spider's Strategem' this promised much for Bertolucci's career; promise which, in my opinion, he never fulfilled. Watching Marlon Brando butter Maria Schneider's bottom, while looking utterly miserable about it, is not my idea of a great night out. After the first couple of hours of `1900' I wanted to bash my head against a wall and both `The Last Emperor' and `The Dreamers' are no more than decent.

But this is a definite must-see.
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The Conformist (1970)
The Conformist (1970) by Bernardo Bertolucci (DVD)
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