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In Mussolini's Italy, repressed Jean-Louis Trintignant, trying to purge memories of a youthful, homosexual episode--and murder--joins the Fascists in a desperate attempt to fit in. As the reluctant Judas motors to his personal Gethsemane (the assassination of his leftist mentor), he flashes back to a dance party for the blind; an insane asylum in a stadium; and wife Stefania Sandrelli and lover Dominique Sanda dancing the tango in a working class hall. But those are only a few of this political thriller's anthology pieces, others including Trintignant's honeymoon coupling with Sandrelli in a train compartment as the sun sets outside their window; a bimbo lolling on the desk of a fascist functionary, glimpsed in the recesses of his cavernous office; a murder victim's hands leaving bloody streaks on a limousine parked in a wintry forest. Bernardo Bertolucci's masterpiece, adapted from the Alberto Moravia novel, boasts an authentic Art Deco look created by production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, a score by the great Georges Delerue (Contempt, Jules and Jim, and That Man From Rio) and breathtaking color cinematography by Vittorio Storaro.
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Excellent quality, comparable to CC releases. My only issue was that the font size of the subtitles was very small and the white letters were on occasion impossible to read.
There are two marvelous scenes in this.fine film that deserve special attention; the murder scene in the forest and the tango In the café in Paris.
Also. Trintignant gives his usual subtle performance. He will give just a glimpse of a smile sometimes which conveys his understanding of a situation similar to what he did in "Z". Also, Bertolucci in the interview section of the BR gives him credit for supplying "color" to a gray role by his unexpected body language and hints of humor.
This film has always been one of my favorites and it was a pleasure to add it to my BR library.
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's 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 Raro blu-ray is the very best transfer, at least to my eye. Sharpest, deepest. The UK Arrow blu-ray is fine, but lags a couple of steps behind. The DVD is watchable, but I've upgraded twice since then, and this film deserves it.
Some films just leave images stuck in your mind this is one of them, a great film please watch!
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.
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Political intrigue, etc....good storytelling, though.