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The Conformist DVD+Blu-ray

Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970

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Film Details

Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci

Produced in 1970

Main Language - Italian with English subtitles

Countries & Regions - European Film, Italian Film

MovieMail's Review

Jean-Louis Trintignant stars as the weak-willed man forced to become a Fascist assassin in this 1970s cinematic masterclass from Bertolucci. This is essential cinema, says James Oliver.

Although his previous work had earned him a certain reputation, it was with The Conformist that Bernardo Bertolucci became a truly great director. Early promise had matured into genuine mastery. For the first time, he fully assimilated his impulses and influences, creating a work that can truthfully be described as a masterpiece.

Itís a film charged with Bertolucciís concerns: sex, psychology, politics and cinema. Young Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) was molested by the family chauffeur; he grows up desperate to erase the shame and does so by rigid conformity. Further embarrassed by his fatherís reputation (the old man is incarcerated in an asylum), Clerici falls in behind Mussolini as he goose-steps into power.

With his marriage to a good bourgeois woman his conformity seems absolute, but the mask doesnít fit as well as he hoped. The government orders him to spend his honeymoon in Paris, and to mix his pleasure with business by murdering one of his former professors, an outspoken critic of the Italian state. It is a task complicated by the feelings he develops for the professorís wife and, perhaps, a twinge of revulsion. So, Italyís moral collapse is embodied by a weak man who wants to appear strong. It might be instructive to compare The Conformist with Pasoliniís SalÚ, which also depicts the barbarity of the fascist state in terms of sexual aberration, albeit by observing animalistic indulgence rather than repression.

The Conformist is one of the most sumptuous films ever made, with the whole film consciously parallelling Hollywood glamour and the fascist aesthetic. Bertolucci and production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti contrast the monochrome Clerici with striking art deco settings, while cinematographer Vittorio Storaro marries freewheeling new wave camera choreography to the kaleidoscopic lighting of an MGM musical.

The film was made at the very height of Bertolucciís powers, in a dazzling year in which he also produced The Spiderís Stratagem. He would produce other remarkable films: all are worth owning. The Conformist, however, is essential.

James Oliver on 8th January 2008
Author of 183 reviews

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Film Description

The style manual for 1970s cinema (every frame is a masterclass in lighting, colour and composition), The Conformist is also a gripping political thriller in its own right, as nondescript functionary Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is forced to become a Fascist assassin. Astoundingly, Bernardo Bertolucci wasn't yet thirty when he made it.

Trintignant stars as Marcello Clerici, a weak-willed young Italian who, owing in part to the torment of his repressed homosexuality, is desperate to appear normal to the outside world. To this end, he joins Mussolini's fascist party as an undercover agent and undertakes to assassinate his former university professor, a left-wing political dissident who has fled fascist Italy for Paris. Arriving in Paris to carry out his deadly assignment while on honeymoon with his bride, Marcello discovers that the professor is now married to the dangerously seductive Anna (Dominique Sanda), whose unfettered bohemianism and bisexuality hypnotise him even as they throw his own pallid conformism into stark relief.

DVD+Blu-ray Details

Certificate: 18

Publisher: Arrow Films

Length: 113 mins

Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Format: DVD+Blu-ray Colour

Region: 2

Released: 27th February 2012

Cat No: FCD500

DVD+Blu-ray Extras

  • 2 discs
  • Audio commentary by Italian cinema expert David Forgacs
  • feature length documentary ďBernardo Bertolucci: Reflections on CinemaĒ on Bertolucciís career with on-set archive material and interviews directed by Sandro Lai (Blu-ray only)
  • a comprehensive booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by critic Michael Atkinson, a re-printed interview with Bernardo Bertolucci from 1971 and Bertolucciís thoughts on filmmaking, illustrated with original stills
  • High Definition Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the film
  • HD restoration supervised by Director of Photography Vittorio Storaro in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio
  • original Mono 2.0 audio

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Community Reviews

“Second-rate aestheticising tosh”
by Leslie Hill on 30th November 2012

I've always been perplexed by the high regard in which this film is held. Yes, it's pretty, in a period-reconstruction sort of way (think BBC Jane Austen a century on)... Read on

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