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The Conformist

The Conformist (1970)
The Conformist poster Rating: 8.1/10 (16,770 votes)
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Writer: Alberto Moravia (novel), Bernardo Bertolucci (screenplay)
Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio
Runtime: 111 min
Rated: R
Genre: Drama
Released: 22 Oct 1970
Plot: A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

When one talks about films of great influence to future generations of filmmakers—in terms of camera angles and story arrangement—one generally talks about Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. And they are correct. But if we’re talking films that greatly influenced our current crop of auteurs from the 70s onward, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s The Conformist is an absolute must. The story of a government flunky (Trintignant) who is sent to assassinate his former professor for political dissidence, The Conformist is a supreme film of showing not telling. There are unspoken flashbacks, there are characters whose glances reveal which side their heart is on on and there is unspoken sexual repression; they all serve the film brilliantly because The Conformist is about suppression of feelings and people by the government for control. Shot by Vittorio Storraro in sepia-toned paradoxes of hazy film noir, you can see obvious influences in film stock and shot selection for Francis Ford CoppolaMartin Scorsese and even Paul Thomas Anderson. Storraro even went on to shoot Coppola’s epic masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, of which you can see fingerprints here. The Conformist is a gem of early 70s cinema, of a narrative less-is-more approach, and—perhaps due to being in the Italian language from a filmmaker who quickly went to English thereafter (Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor)—not referenced enough as one of the great formative auteur works in modern cinema. –Brian Formo

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