Urgent Notice: Film Society activities have been suspended for the time being and the March to June 2020 films held over to the 1921/22 Season. please check this website for future updates.

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22 MARCH 2020

 The Conformist


Director: Bernardo Bertolucci                                        111 Minutes

 italy: 1970                                                                    Cert. 15                 

In terms of sheer visual mastery, few director-cinematographer teams have outdone the work of Bernardo Bertolucci and Vittorio Storaro. And among their many collaborations, their finest may be The Conformist, the 1970 movie about aristocrat Jean-Louis Trintignant's obsessive desire to follow the prevailing political winds.

In this free adaptation of Alberto Moravia's novel, set in the 1930s, Trintignant plays a spineless member of the upper class who is psychologically burdened by a sexually traumatic incident in his childhood. Determined to prove his allegiance to the fascist cause, Trintignant's desire is answered when rightist operatives order him to establish contact with a former professor -- now an anti-fascist -- living in Paris. After locating the professor, Trintignant is to report on his movements. Engaged to the devoted, but vacuously bourgeois Stefania Sandrelli, Trintignant decides to combine his mission with a honeymoon.

But on the journey to France, Trintignant is suddenly informed he must kill the professor (Enzo Tarascio). When he locates his man, Trintignant's now-lukewarm resolve is further complicated by slinky Dominique Sanda, the professor's wife, who offers herself sexually to Trintignant, then makes advances toward his new bride. Trintignant, under the watchful eye of fascist agent Gastone Moschin, has an increasingly difficult dilemma. His sense of allegiance utterly confused, he takes the path of least resistance.

In a story full of treachery, cowardice and sexual decadence, with an outcome that doesn't end happily for anyone, the movie remains uplifting for its breathtaking style. Masterfully arranged for colour, texture, decor and camera fluidity, The Conformist is more like a symphonic poem than a movie. Your breath is taken away by its baroque compositions, like the shot in which Storaro's camera -- powered by Georges Delerue's rhapsodic score -- glides ghostlike toward its characters at ground level, stirring up a flurry of autumn leaves. Images like that -- projected on a big screen -- show you what the medium is capable of. They also demonstrate why going out to the cinema remains the best way to see a movie. And frankly, it's the best way to appreciate Dominique Sanda's mouth, perhaps the greatest set of lips in movie history.

Desson Howe  Washington Post



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Showing this Season::

26 January 2020