Il Conformista – Bernardo Bertolucci



There is a certain circle of, well, not friends, where I hear this repeatedly “one has to know how to place one’s self in convenient circumstances” socially and politically. Easier said than done, I always reply, because that implies some sort of self annihilation and that’s hard to do. Or is it not?

What makes it easy to blend in and what makes it impossible? Sometimes I think it depends on how familiar one is with one’s self. If you have no idea who you are it’s a walk in the park to annihilate your ego, identity, principles etc and to adopt anything else that keeps you away from social and political bruises. But knowing yourself in and out can serve the same purpose give or take some sleepless nights. For the first ignorance is required for the latter courage to face the mirror.

In both cases cowardice is the main ingredient or shall I call it self-preservation?

When history gives you a hard time, when all is black or white, no neutral gray, for some is safer to cowardly blend in than heroically stand out or even passively stand aside. The consequences? It depends on how the blending in game is played.

Il Conformisto is the story of anti-hero Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) playing the game with absolute conviction.

Bertolucci tells the tragic story spreading pinches of humor along the way. The characters are placed with mannerist rigor in perfectly framed extravagant locations and interiors. Some use of strong color filters and camera tilting complete a delicate and elegantly decadent atmosphere.

It’s a delight, all is thoroughly prepared to light-heartedly enjoy such an atmosphere while contemplating conformity, cowardice, self-preservation, a perfect Jean-Louis Trintignant and an unforgettable Stefania Sandrelli “tutta letto e cucina”.

“Animula vagula blandula
Hospes comesque corporis”

“Little soul, you charming little wanderer,
my body’s guest and partner”
Hadrian

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