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The Conformist (Extended Edition)

4.4 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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(Dec 05, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This story opens in 1938 in Rome, where Marcello has just taken a job working for Mussollini and is courting a beautiful young woman who will make him even more of a conformist. Marcello is going to Paris on his honeymoon and his bosses have an assignment for him there. Look up an old professor who fled Italy when the fascists came into power. At the border of Italy and France, where Marcello and his bride have to change trains, his bosses give him a gun with a silencer. In a flashback to 1917, we learn why sex and violence are linked in Marcello's mind.

With The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci delivered one of his signature masterworks and joined the ranks of world-class directors. Based on the acclaimed novel by Alberto Moravia (who greatly admired Bertolucci's adaptation), this milestone of cinematic style concerns one of Bertolucci's dominant themes--the duality of sexual and political conflict--in telling the story of Marcello (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a 30-year-old Italian haunted by the memory of a sexually traumatic childhood experience. As an adult with repressed homosexual desires, Marcello wants nothing more than to conform to the upper-crust expectations of Italian society, so he marries the dim-witted, petit-bourgeois Giulia (Stefania Sandrelli), and willfully joins the Italian Fascist movement, traveling from Rome to Paris with an assignment to assassinate his former academic mentor, Prof. Quadri (Enzo Tarascio). As he grows attracted to Quadri's bisexual wife Anna (Dominique Sanda), who is in turn attracted to Giulia, Marcello's path of duplicity parallels that of Mussolini's inevitable downfall. He's on an irreversible course of self-destruction, on which his troubled past and morally corrupted present will collide in a soul-crushing heap of personal contradictions.

While the psychosexual aspects of Bertolucci's Oscar®-nominated screenplay remain dramatically compelling, The Conformist is now better known as a dazzling stylistic breakthrough, with sweeping camera moves, oblique angles, and innovative editing brilliantly applied to Bertolucci's rich themes of internalized conflict. In close collaboration with master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, Bertolucci crafted one of the greatest films of the 1970s, offered here with its richly relevant "Dance of the Blind" scene fully intact. This five-minute scene was cut from the original American release, then restored for the film's 1994 re-release. It's a welcome enhancement of the film's suspenseful historical context, which is fully explored in three bonus featurettes in which Bertolucci and Storaro discuss the story, production, and innovative style of The Conformist in fascinating detail. For serious collectors of important films, The Conformist is absolutely essential. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Original theatrical version
  • The Rise of The Conformist: The Story, The Cast featurette
  • Shadow and Light: Filming The Conformist featurette
  • The Conformist: Breaking New Ground featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio, Fosco Giachetti
  • Directors: Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Writers: Bernardo Bertolucci, Alberto Moravia
  • Producers: Giovanni Bertolucci, Maurizio Lodi-Fè
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 5, 2006
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000IHYXH6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,742 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Conformist (Extended Edition)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on June 29, 2006
Format: VHS Tape
What kind of man gets himself in such a pickle that --- on his honeymoon --- he's given a gun and asked to kill a professor he's always admired?

That is the question presented to us at the beginning of "The Conformist," as Marcello Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) sits in a Paris hotel room, waiting for the call that will tell him it's time to kill the professor. If you love movies, the answer --- told in a series of flashbacks, and, on occasion, flashbacks within flashbacks --- will make for one of the most rewarding cinematic experiences of your life.

Let's get the praise out of the way right off. Bernardo Bertolucci --- known to most moviegoers for his Oscar-winning "The Last Emperor" and his down-and-dirty "Last Tango in Paris" --- made "The Conformist" at 29. It is a young man's film, drenched in ambition. It is also Bertolucci's greatest film. Indeed, it is one of the ten greatest films I've ever seen.

My reasons?

First, "The Conformist" is beautiful in the extreme. The cinematographer was the great Vittorio Storaro, and his color palette is so exquisite that Francis Ford Coppola watched this film over and over before making "The Godfather" --- and then hired Storaro to shoot "Apocalypse Now." The production designer was Ferdinando Scarfiotti, whose credits include "Death in Venice" and "Scarface." And Georges Delerue, who did the scores for "Jules and Jim" and "Platoon", composed the music.

Then there is the acting. Trintignant is one of the most familiar faces in French cinema; this is the performance of his life. But mostly, I want to praise Dominique Sanda, then just 22 years old and making only her third movie.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
[This review pertains to the 2014 US Blu Ray edition only.]

I love this film. I have previously owned it on VHS and DVD and I've watched it at least 50 times. I couldn't wait for Blu Ray and it does not disappoint. To be sure, the original material is subject to the limits of production that existed at the time it was made. Much of the movie is shot in softer focus than we are accustomed to these days. The titles still suffer from some color bleed and the soundtrack is still a bit tinny. But this is an art house movie. No one is ever going to underwrite a complete Blu Ray remaster and overhaul.

Instead, you can expect a HD transfer of a pristine print, giving you access to more of the cinematography, as it was intended for the big screen. This turns out to be very important, since this is universally acknowledged to be a masterpiece of cinematography. The images acquire a remarkable depth of field, and I found myself noticing details I'd never seen before. I found the extent to which this change alone amplified the film's drama and pathos quite remarkable.

The translation is also very, very good. Previous subs and dubs have failed to capture the literary nuance of the script, adapted from Alberto Moravia's masterpiece of the same name. Somehow the English dub here has been improved dramatically over it's incarnation in DVD, and a LOT more of the book comes through. It's not clear to me exactly what they did to fix it. The voices sound identical, and the memorable lines have been translated in the same way, but the speech fits the action much, MUCH better than the DVD sub did. Watching the English dub with Italian subtitles (and vice versa) gives access to much more of the Italian script than was possible with previous editions.
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Format: DVD
Break out the brass section, the DVD has arrived. This landmark film like fine wine, now that it has been remastered by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, and presented with color intact in widescreen in Italian and French, emerges as a true classic. The dispicable VHS dubbed panned & scanned version that we have been watching for over 20 years can be "retired". Bernardo Bertolucci's truth is once again on display. This release sparkles with clarity, and we can thrill to the carefully presented imagery and the powerful symbolism.

Bertolucci, under 30 when he directed CONFORMIST, has become a wonderfully gifted and powerful force in cinema; and never more so than in this fledging effort. He must have storyboarded every moment. The film is tighter than a Rolex; no wasted seconds or icons. In this film he began to explore the vistas of sensuality and sexuality that only two short years later would blossom into THE LAST TANGO IN PARIS (1972); and then would spill out all over the lens and screen in his latest effort, THE DREAMERS (2003).

Alberto Moravia wrote the original novel at over 300 pages. Bertolucci did a marvelous job of extracting the essence of the protagonist, Marcello Clerici, and constructing a fabulous film, complex, lyrical yet brutal, beautiful yet shocking, shallow one moment and lethal the next, full of madness, repressed homosexuality, religious hypocracy, petty politicos, blind people, assassins, victims, and a never ending line of characters being cajoled or abused or eliminated or shamed or extolled. This is the Italy of the late 30's and early 40's, when the bald bulldog, Mussolini, strutted in the shadow of Hitler, dreaming of a new Roman Empire --about ordinary citizens who either resisted the Fascists or joined them.
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